On Monday the 6th of February, the Helsinki Policy Forum hosted an online meeting: ‘Tackling desertification and sand and dust storms (SDS) in the MENA Region – exploring opportunities to develop inter-state cooperation.’

The increased prevalence of desertification and worsening SDS is one of the most pressing environmental challenges in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) that has devastating effects for health, agriculture, and economies. The World Meteorological Organisation has noted a substantial increase in the frequency and intensity of SDS in the MENA over the past 20 years. At a meeting of the Helsinki Policy Forum’s Women Parliamentarian Network in November 2022, participants expressed a desire for further meetings to discuss SDS.

Participants from Europe and the Gulf-MENA region underlined the need for cross-border cooperation to prevent and mitigate SDS and called for the development of regional early-warning systems.