lighting, Diplomacy

[Webinar] Yellow Day and Green Diplomacy

11 February 2021


Event description

City, Architecture, Building, Spire, Tower, Urban, Metropolis, Cityscape, Cathedral, Church, Downtown, Castle, Fortress, Dome, Nature, Outdoors, Sky

[Update] The event recording is now available.

Yellow Day and Green Diplomacy

Movements of sand and dust across continents:
Scientific insights and policy implications

A just-in-time discussion

Thursday, 11th February 2021 | 13:00 – 14:00 (12:00 – 13:00 UTC)


WMO ​​ ​     Diplo         GIP​​


If you are curious to learn more about the ‘yellow day’ in Geneva and its relevance for climate and the environment, join us for a just-in-time debate on the movement of sand and dust globally and its implications for global cooperation in science and technology.

Registrations are now closed.

You can follow the event on YouTube and Facebook live streams.

A little bit about the phenomenon…

A few days ago, yellow clouds and rain painted Geneva and the Alps in a warm sepia colour. 

sepia sepia 

There is a scientific explanation for this ‘Instagram filter’ effect!

Sand travelled a thousand kilometres from the Sahara Desert, across the Mediterranean Sea and Southern Europe, to arrive in Switzerland and Central Europe as you can see in the illustration below. 


Source: Barcelona Dust Forecast Center

On Saturday, many of us took photos, enjoyed this unique scenery, and washed our cars …

… but we had many questions about this natural phenomenon, and its impact on the weather, climate, and our society.

On 11 February 2021, we will be talking with leading experts from this field:

  • Prof. Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
  • Dr Slobodan Nickovic, inventor of the computing model for following sand and dust movements, used worldwide and chair of the Regional Steering Group of the Sand and Dust Storm Warning Advisory and Assessment System for Northern Africa, the Middle East and Europe
  • Dr Sara Basart,researcher on atmospheric composition models at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) and scientist in charge of the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) Sand and Dust Storm Warning Advisory and Assessment System (SDS-WAS) Regional Center for Northern Africa, the Middle East and Europe

Moderator: Prof. Jovan Kurbalija, Director of DiploFoundation & Head of Geneva Internet Platform

They will help us to:

  • understand this natural phenomenon
  • navigate the latest scientific research on the impact of sand and dust movements on the environment, the economy, and our health  
  • understand how data collecting and sharing involved in monitoring dust and sand movement works on a global scale
  • illustrate the implications for global cooperation in the field of science and technology 

About the speakers: 


Prof. Petteri Taalas was appointed Secretary-General of WMO in January 2016. Prior to this, Prof. Taalas was Director of Development and Regional Activities Department (2005 – 2007). Between 2002 and 2015, Prof. Taalas served as Director-General of the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), a government atmospheric and marine research and service agency. Prof. Taalas holds a PhD in Meteorology from the University of Helsinki. He is the author of more than 50 peer-reviewed papers on satellite technology, global change, climate and atmospheric chemistry, dozens of other publications and presentations.


Dr Slobodan Nickovic received a PhD in Meteorology from the University of Belgrade in 1981. Through his domestic and international career, he worked on the development of numerical methods in atmospheric, hydrologic, and aerosol models. In the 1990s, he developed the widely used modelling system called the Dust Regional Atmospheric Model (DREAM), which is a major modelling research tool the Belgrade team uses for dust-related studies. Nickovic participated in more than 30 international scientific projects, including projects funded by the EU, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and NASA. 

As a scientific officer at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) from 2005 to 2013, he was one of the architects of the Sand and Dust Warning Advisory and Assessment System (SDS-WAS). After returning to Serbia, he joined the Republic Hydrometeorological Service of Serbia (RHMSS), and additionally collaborated with the Institute of Physics in Belgrade. Nickovic is currently the vice-chair of the European Cooperation in Science and Technology’s (COST) International Network to Encourage the Use of Monitoring and Forecasting Dust Products – inDust project,  and chair of the SDS-WAS’s Regional Centre for Northern Africa, Middle East and Europe (NAMEE)


Dr Sara Basart is a researcher at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC). Her main research background covers mineral- dust modelling, air quality, and aerosols. She is the scientist in charge of the WMO’s SDS-WAS’s NAMEE regional center and the Barcelona Dust Forecast Center (BDFC) hosted at the BSC. Basart also participates in international projects such as the International Cooperative on Aerosol Prediction (ICAP) initiative, the EU Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020 (SOLWARIS, ACTRIS, and ACTRIS-2), and the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS-84, CAMS-61, and CAMS-95). She is the lead project investigator of the European Research Area for Climate Services’s (ERA4CS) project DustClim. Recently, she was elected chair of the COST’s inDust project. Basart has authored or co-authored more than 30 peer-reviewed publications in international journals and book chapters. Furthermore, she has participated in capacity building and transfer-of-knowledge activities associated with private contracts, the European Commission, and UN programmes.


Dr Jovan Kurbalija is the Executive Director of DiploFoundation and Head of the Geneva Internet Platform (GIP). He was a member of the UN Working Group on Internet Governance (2004‒2005), special advisor to the Chairman of the UN Internet Governance Forum (2006‒2010), and a member of the High Level Multistakeholder Committee for NETmundial (2013‒2014). In 2018-2019, he served as co-Executive Director of the Secretariat of the United Nations (UN) High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation. A former diplomat, Jovan has a professional and academic background in international law, diplomacy, and information technology. He has been a pioneer in the field of cyber diplomacy since 1992 when he established the Unit for Information Technology and Diplomacy at the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies in Malta, and later, DiploFoundation. Since 1997, Jovan’s research and articles on cyber diplomacy have shaped research and policy discussion on the impact of the Internet on diplomacy and international relations.


Registrations are now closed.

You can follow the event on YouTube and Facebook live streams.

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