Daily report for 10 January 1997
10th Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the International Convention to Combat Desertification
During the morning, Working Group I delegates first met in their regional groups, thenlater in an informal session to consider the Global Mechanism. In the afternoon, WorkingGroup I conducted their first reading of the draft programme and budget. Working GroupII met between 10:30 and 11:30 am and completed its substantive negotiations. Itconsidered a report on the work of other bodies performing work similar to that envisagedfor the Committee on Science and Technology.
WORKING GROUP I
GLOBAL MECHANISM: Working Group I resumed discussion of the functionof mobilizing financial resources in an informal open-ended working group.
Informal discussions held Thursday evening were based on two non-papers circulated bytwo regional groups on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday morning, the G-77 andChina presented a new 11-paragraph draft non-paper for discussion. The non-paperdesignates the function as mobilizing and channelling of resources to all levels. Insummary, the activities are to: promote actions leading to the mobilization andchannelling of financial resources; mobilize, in conjunction with developed countries andrelevant institutions, adequate and substantial financial resources; as a workingpartnership, mobilize adequate, timely and predictable financial resources, including newand additional funding, and channel these resources, including its own...in a predictableand timely fashion; in conjunction with the COP, encourage the provision of support atall levels, through various mechanisms; increase the efficiency and effectiveness ofexisting financial mechanisms and collaborate with them to facilitate and catalyze themobilization and channelling of resources; ensure, as a working partnership machinery,that adequate financial resources...are available; promote the use of existing bilateral andmultilateral financial mechanisms and arrangements that mobilize and channel substantialfinancial resources; and promote and facilitate the transfer, acquisition and adaptation oftechnologies, as well as the use of indigenous and traditional knowledge andtechnologies.
Delegations noted that most of the text is lifted from the Convention. Some groupsexpressed reservation on its use in some contexts.
Regional and interest groups agreed to use the non-paper as a basis for negotiation and tomake preliminary comments pending regional groups consultations. The inputs weretextual modifications to accommodate other groups interests.
Some delegations proposed that all references to mobilization and channellingresources be preceded by promoting and/or facilitating. Some also proposed deletingall references to the Global Mechanism (GM) having its own resources. Where text wasdirectly lifted from the Convention, some delegates suggested adding in accordance withthe provisions of and naming the specific article. Some delegates noted that in themobilization of resources the GM should work in conjunction with all Parties, not justdeveloped countries. One delegation suggested including a catalytic role to thefunctions of the GM.
Delegates appeared to agree on the texts related to the transfer and use of technology andthe need to promote actions leading to the mobilization of resources and increasing theefficiency and effectiveness of existing mechanisms.
The Chair said he would provide delegates with text, as amended and bracketed, onMonday, 13 January. At the end of the session, some regional groups expressedfrustration with the lack of flexibility of some delegations.
PROGRAMME AND BUDGET: Executive Secretary Diallo introduced thedraft programme and budget (A/AC.241/65), in order to seek further guidance from theINCD to help shape the Secretariats final budget proposals. 1999 is expected to be thefirst full year in which the Secretariat would be financed by a core budget. Envisagedstaffing requirements for 1999 are 34 posts. The budget includes two special-purposefunds, the Supplementary Fund, to support the participation of NGO representatives, andthe Special Fund, which would finance travel of affected developing country delegates.
The G-77 and China had not developed a common position yet, but indicated they wouldforward comments by the end of February. Greece said the OECD group of countrieswould forward their written comments to the Interim Secretariat, if necessary.
SECRETARIAT STAFFING: Greece, on behalf of the OECD group ofcountries, expressed concern with the steep increase in the number of posts expected andsaid the transition should not be an occasion to upgrade posts. The US and Australiasupported current staffing levels as the basis for the establishment of the Secretariat.Uganda emphasized the need for a realistic budget that takes into account the expandedactivities that are envisaged. Benin supported strengthening and increasing the size of thestaff. Bolivia and Brazil requested information regarding the criteria for determining howmany staff would focus on each region. The Executive Secretary responded that thecriteria took into account the number of countries covered in each regional annex. Tunisianoted the need for more staffing for the implementation of the regional annexes. Antiguaand Barbuda was puzzled by the Greek interpretation of staffing, since the present level is24, there is a request for 3 more, and the estimated total for 1999 is 34. He noted thestudy in chaos in the Biodiversity Convention (CBD) process, where the COP had toincrease Secretariat staffing significantly after COP-1.
Greece requested information regarding the possibility of seconding staff frominternational organizations. Benin asked if there were provisions for current secondedstaff to be retained or for the level of secondments to increase. The Executive Secretarynoted that international organizations are currently cutting their staff.
COSTING: In response to several inquires regarding costs for the GlobalMechanism, the Executive Secretary noted the need to know who is responsible for thecosts. Greece looked forward to a fully-costed preliminary budget. Australia urged thatfuture budgeting documents use full cost attribution. Morocco and Cuba also expressedan interest in knowing the cost estimates.
NGO PARTICIPATION: Greece noted several times that the participation ofNGOs is important, but expressed his unease that a special fund would be formed fortheir participation. Benin, Tunisia, Haiti and Indonesia stressed the importance of supportfor NGOs. Indonesia asked which NGOs would participate. The Executive Secretarynoted that someone must shoulder the responsibility for NGO participation.
WORKING CAPITAL FUND: Greece supported the establishment of a workingcapital fund, the level of which should be reviewed regularly. Benin stated that, inreference to the reserve fund, UN practice is well established and should be retained.Tunisia concurred. Antigua and Barbuda stated that the problem experienced by the CBDwith its working capital fund was due to host institution-Executive Secretariat relations.
OTHER REMARKS: Benin asked what the link between the RegionalCoordination Units and the Secretariat would be. The Executive Secretary asked forsuggestions for arrangements. The US noted the assumption that all of 1998 would be aperiod of transition and expressed hope that it would be quick and smooth.
The Chair concluded that he would prepare a procedural draft decision that takes intoaccount the views expressed and invites the Secretariat to submit a full-fledged budget toCOP-1.
WORKING GROUP II
SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL COOPERATION: South Africasupported the NGO proposal made Thursday, 9 January, that local area developmentshould be part of the work programme of the Committee on Science and Technology(CST). Chair Shibata noted that a formal decision on this would have to be made by theCOP but that the Interim Secretariat had taken note of the NGO and South Africanproposal.
The Secretariat then introduced document A/AC.241/67, Report on the work of otherbodies performing work similar to that envisaged for the CST, as requested in decision9/11 of INCD-9. Many delegations congratulated the Interim Secretariat on the quality ofthe report. It contains: two areas of cooperation (convention provisions and methods ofcooperation); and bodies identified for cooperation purposes (scientific committees andpanels, international organizations and NGOs). The Annex includes profiles of relevantscientific and technical bodies under the Conventions on climate change and biodiversity,the Global Environment Facility, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, theWorld Meteorological Organization and the Ramsar and Bonn Conventions.
Egypt, supported by Tanzania, Kenya and Senegal, suggested that the Interim Secretariatshould appoint a group of experts to take an inventory of how the CST could benefit fromother bodies. Tanzania, supported by Kenya, Senegal and the UK, suggested that thereport should also include regional and subregional bodies and that the Interim Secretariatcould forward an inventory of such bodies to COP-1. The UK added that there were alsointernational organizations missing in the list and noted that the methods of cooperationneed to be examined by the COP before giving them to the CST. India suggested that theinstruction for the CST should also include the facilitation of environmentally soundtechnology.
The Chair said that the INCD could ask the Interim Secretariat to call together an expertgroup to take an inventory and to consider regional and subregional bodies. This groupcould operate similarly to the open-ended consultative process on benchmarks andindicators. He invited delegations to give the Interim Secretariat suggestions on this issueby 15 March. He hoped that draft decisions from Working Group II would be ready byTuesday, 14 January, so that the Group could consider them for adoption on Tuesdayafternoon.
IN THE CORRIDORS
The informal discussion on the Global Mechanism (GM) left some delegates with a senseof frustration they considered the negotiations deadlocked. This prompted many toquestion the value of a CCD without a fund. Some delegates are convinced that withoutan institution such as the GM to mobilize resources, the INCD has jumped only to landon the 1977 PACD (Plan of Action to Combat Desertification). Others argue, however,that even without a fund, the spirit of the negotiations demonstrates a strong political willthat is a leap beyond the 1977 PACD. Another school of thought maintains that evenwithout another dollar, if countries apply the basic principle of the CCD, we would stillgo a long way in changing the situation of people living in drylands. Yet another groupfelt that creating a fund would not guarantee that resources would flow. The PACD andTFAP (Tropical Forest Action Plan) both had funds but nothing became of them. Manyobserved that given the experience with the GEF and the Montreal Protocol, Africa,which is particularly affected, may not be able to access funds from such a multilateralfunding body.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
PLENARY: The Plenary is expected to meet at 10:00 am and at 3:00 pm toconsider the progress of negotiations, the offers relating to the location of the PermanentSecretariat, and the situation as regards extrabudgetary funds.
WORKING GROUP I: If the Plenary ends early, the Group will meet forinformal consultations on the Global Mechanism, based on the amended G-77 and Chinanon-paper discussed on Friday, 10 January.
SYMPOSIUM ON COMBATTING DESERTIFICATION: The SteeringCommittee for the May 1997 international symposium, workshop and training entitledCombatting Desertification: Connecting Science with Community Action will meet inConference Room 6 from 1:15 pm to 2:00 pm. All are welcome.