Policy context In 2007, the 14th World Meteorological Congress highlighted the importance of the SDS problem and endorsed launching of the implementation of a Sand and Dust Storm Warning Advisory and Assessment System (SDS-WAS) (WMO 2015). SDS-WAS was established in response to the intention of 40 WMO member countries to improve capabilities for more reliable sand and dust storm forecasts. Forecasting products from atmospheric dust models may substantially contribute to risk reduction, resulting in societal benefit. To be effective, forecasting needs to rely on real-time delivery of products. More than 15 organizations currently provide daily dust forecasts in different geographic regions. The SDS-WAS, which is a federation of partners organized around regional nodes, integrates research and user communities (e.g., health, aeronautical, and agricultural users). Presently there are three nodes: the Northern Africa-Middle East-Europe Node (hosted by Spain), the Asian Node (hosted by China) and the Pan America node (hosted by Barbados and the USA). The SDS-WAS mission is to achieve comprehensive, coordinated and sustained observations and modelling capabilities in order to improve the monitoring of sand and dust storms, to increase the understanding of dust processes, and to enhance dust prediction capabilities. Further to these efforts, UNEP, WMO and the UNCCD have assisted in the development of regional SDS action plans for both West Asia and Northeast Asia. Members of the 17th World Meteorological Congress (2015) also recognized that sand and dust storms “have considerable impacts on, especially those in, around and downwind from arid and semi-arid regions”. The importance of the SDS problem was recognized by the G77 and China Ministerial Declaration on 26 September 2013 (A/68/595) in which “The Ministers stressed the need to cooperate at the global and regional levels with a view to preventing and managing dust storms and sandstorms, including in the sharing of related information, forecasting and early warning. The Ministers stressed that combating such storms demands financial support and the transfer of technology from developed countries to developing countries”. In addition, at the seventieth session the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), a draft resolution on combating sand and dust storms was introduced by the Second Committee (Res No. A/RES/70/195). The resolution acknowledges that dust and sand storms pose a severe impediment to the sustainable development of affected developing countries and the well-being of their peoples, and recognizes the fact that dust and sand storms in the last few years have inflicted substantial socioeconomic damage on the inhabitants of the world’s arid, semi-arid and dry subhumid areas, especially in Africa and Asia. The UNGA resolution emphasizes the need to strengthen the leadership role of the United Nations system, supported by related regional, subregional and interregional organizations, in promoting international cooperation to mitigate and contain this phenomenon in the affected developing countries, including through (i) capacity-building measures, (ii) the implementation of regional and subregional projects, (iii) the sharing of information, best practices and experiences, (iv) the boosting of technical cooperation, (v) the mobilization of necessary financial resources and the setting up of institutions, such as expert committee working groups, and (vi) preparation of master plans and formulation of action plans and programmes to facilitate and enhance such cooperation. The resolution also requested the Secretary-General to present a report to the General Assembly at its seventy-first session containing information and analysis of trends in the occurrence of dust storms. The UNGA SDS resolution was re-enforced at the second session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2), held in May 2016, with the adoption of a further resolution on sand and dust storms (Res. No. 2/21), which calls on United Nations entities to promote a coordinated approach to combatting sand and dust storms globally; and invites member States, regional development banks and others in a position to do so to contribute financial resources towards regional initiatives and projects to address the challenge of sand and dust storms.