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Interview with Dr. Somayeh Rafiei, Chair of the Environmental Committee of the Parliament of Iran

Dr. Somayeh Rafiei

Dr. Somayeh Rafiei © Parliament of Iran

  • How is climate change affecting your country?

Currently, one of the most significant impacts of climate change in the Persian Gulf Region is the increase in sand and dust storms. The region is particularly prone to these storms due to its arid and desert-like environment. Droughts, exacerbated by climate change, produce dry and loose soil that can easily be lifted by strong winds, causing soil erosion, affecting water quality and degrading agricultural land.

As the phenomemon affects the whole region and not just Iran, we need to cooperate with neigbouring countries, both in terms of reducing and adapting to the impact of climate change. That’s why I have called for a parliamentary climate change agency for the region to coordinate between the different parliaments. 
•    What action is your Parliament taking to address climate change?

These dust storms can pose significant health risks, especially to those with respiratory conditions. The Parliament is taking action to ensure that people suffer less, for example by introducing monitoring and early warning systems.

•    What role can multilateral cooperation play?

We need to go beyond statements about climate change with colourful and attractive slogans at international conferences to real concrete action. An international approach is essential within the Persian Gulf region and more broadly across the Middle East and North Africa.

One step towards cooperation would be to establish a regional parliamentary agency on climate change to monitor dust storms and work towards common cross-border laws and policies. We propose Kish Island, an island in the Persian Gulf, as the centre for this agency, as this is where most dust storms occur. The island is also known for its rich biodiversity, including a unique coral reviving site.

The views and opinions expressed by the parliamentarians are their own and do not necessarily reflect the IPU’s position.


Find out more about the IPU’s climate campaign Parliaments for the Planet.