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Daily report for 15 January 1997

10th Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the International Convention to Combat Desertification

Delegates met in Plenary all day to hear statements on urgent action for Africa andinterim measures in Asia, Latin America and the Northern Mediterranean. Informalconsultations continued on the administrative arrangements for the Permanent Secretariat,the rules of procedure and the Global Mechanism.


ACCREDITATION OF NGOS: INCD Chair Kjelln introduced documentsA/AC.241/9/Add.13 and Corr.1, lists of NGOs recommended for accreditation, whichwere approved. Following adoption, OMAN, on behalf of the Arab countries andsupported by Syria and Iran, expressed their reservation on the decision to accreditEcoPeace because it has activities in Arab countries under occupation.

URGENT ACTION FOR AFRICA: Executive Secretary Diallo called delegates’attention to an overview he had prepared that takes stock of actions taken. Manydelegates called on partners to provide financial assistance and coordination of theirNAPs.

EGYPT said projects related to the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD),including better water harvesting and irrigation techniques, will increase the country’sinhabited area from five to twenty-five percent by 2025. MOROCCO is setting up aNational Action Programme (NAP) and partnerships between the state and groups ofvillages.

ALGERIA has carried out research on desertification trends using satellite imagery, helda national awareness workshop and plans to develop government-NGO partnerships. TheGAMBIA has conducted public awareness campaigns, zonal and divisional levelconsultations for the NAP, and has revised national forest policy to enable communityforest management.

GHANA has established a national committee on desertification and held sensitizationworkshops and awareness seminars. TOGO has launched a national information andsensitization programme, but said the NAP is still stuck in the identification phase.NIGER’s CCD-related activities include holding workshops, the establishment ofregional structures and an environmental fund, and the adoption of a national plan on theenvironment.

MAURITANIA brought together fifteen African focal points in a workshop to exchangelessons learned and is refining its NAP with input from donor round tables. SENEGALhas created a National Environmental Fund, a desertification information system on theInternet, and an “advisory think tank group” to monitor progress. DENMARK andBURKINA FASO presented their joint Burkinabe Sahel project to promote grassrootsdevelopment in support of food security and environmental restoration at the local level.DENMARK said the project gives high priority to the participation of communities anduses an integrated approach.

CILSS noted activities to: devise a sub-regional action programme and NAPs; consider amethodology for organizing transborder village projects; and contribute to work onbenchmarks and indicators. ETHIOPIA’s activities include a national workshop onawareness creation and a review of all policies and strategies by the EnvironmentalProtection Authority. ERITREA’s national activities have included decentralization andfurther democratization of the political system. Participation of all is taken as a cornerstone by the Government. A student campaign included the planting of millions of trees.

UGANDA reported on its awareness raising activities, called for support for thedevelopment of its National Desertification Fund (NDF) and said it would soon ratify theCCD. KENYA spoke about awareness-building activities during World DesertificationDay, the preparation of the NAP, and the establishment of an NDF. BURUNDI sees closeconnections between biodiversity, climate change and desertification and has coordinatedthe implementation of the three conventions into a national strategy.

The Netherlands, on behalf of the EU, encouraged African countries preparing NAPs toexplore the advantages of the “chef-de-file” concept. CANADA noted theexamples of NDFs in Uganda and Mali and said it is a donor country’s responsibility toplay the role of chef-de-file at both technical and political levels. GERMANYnoted the growing willingness of donors to become genuine partners and regretted thatofficial bilateral and multilateral negotiations on development cooperation often do notproperly refer to the Convention.

BOTSWANA said its NAP process will culminate in a national forum process to discussarrangements for its implementation. SOUTH AFRICA is creating capacity to plan andmonitor its NAP and is committed to work closely with development partners onimplementation. ZAMBIA has a public awareness programme and noted the ZambiaForests Action programme. He said efforts have been difficult due to a lack of resources.

CAMEROON’s national activities include the organization of national awareness daysand the drafting of a national environment plan. He paid tribute to Cameroon’s NGOswho are young but full of energy. The OAU noted that participants in sub-regionalmeetings appreciated the value of the exchange of experiences. He said the Pan-AfricanConference on the Environment will allow for proper preparation for COP-1 and theUNGA Special Session. IGAD held a Summit to create a partnership forum, completed amedia study and journalist training, and is planning two subregional workshops onscience and technology and regional prioritization.

NORWAY is funding UNSO, the ILO and LDCs, especially in Africa, on desertificationinitiatives linked to poverty reduction, food security, and the participation of women,indigenous peoples, and grassroots organizations. FRANCE is supporting regionalscientific cooperation in West Africa and NAPs in Burkina Faso, Senegal, Cape Verde,Mauritania and Chad, with co-financing from the French Global Environmental Facility.JAPAN is developing desertification control technologies appropriate for localcommunities, such as underground dams, in Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali.SWITZERLAND highlighted difficulties in operationalizing the progressive approach ofthe Convention and suggested a greater role for universities, scientists and NGOs.

SWEDEN said the commitments made at the World Food Summit relate todesertification problems and how to solve them. He also said the concept ofenvironmental refugees has become more crucial and that the Convention has a role toplay. The EUROPEAN COMMUNITY (EC) said the Commission is undertaking aqualitative and quantitative review of the various Community CCD-related policies.

RUSSIA noted national discussions on ratification of the CCD and efforts of the AridLands Centre. She stated that desertification is taking place in Europe and called for anAnnex on European countries.

NORTHERN MEDITERRANEAN REGION: PORTUGAL, on behalf of Italy,Spain, Greece, Turkey and France, described coordination of activities under Annex IV inthe region. A meeting will be held in 1997 on benchmarks and indicators. SPAIN ispreparing a NAP and is committed to the CCD process.

LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN REGION: HAITI has taken acomprehensive approach to sustainable development, after ratifying the biodiversity,climate change and desertification conventions. It cooperates with Mexico, Cuba,Argentina and neighboring Dominican Republic. BRAZIL highlighted efforts toelaborate a National Plan to Combat Desertification and to establish a National Networkon Desertification. Brazil has been active in fostering technical cooperation with otheraffected countries. ARGENTINA organized the first conference for combattingdesertification in Latin America. National activities have included bringing togetherNGOs involved with desertification and developing an advisory group in the area ofscience and technology. MEXICO’s national efforts include the adoption of a newenvironmental law, the drafting of a forest law and a technical assistance agreement. Acommittee to combat desertification has been established, coordinated by an NGO.BOLIVIA’s national actions include: ratification of the Convention; establishment of aNAP; work to mitigate poverty; and organization of awareness campaigns.

ASIAN REGION: KAZAKSTAN called attention to reports on nationalpreparatory activities to combat desertification and the international conference to combatdesertification in countries with economies in transition. ISRAEL noted national, sub-regional, regional and international activities, including the development of orchards thatwill be irrigated by waste water, the organization of an experts meeting on synergies onimplementing the CCD, CBD, FCCC, and the Rio Forest Principles, and an internationalschool for desert studies. CHINA has reviewed its projects to combat desertification,which resulted in increased funding for those projects that performed well. She said alack of funds is the major difficulty they have experienced. Individuals are permitted togain long-term contracts on sandy areas. SYRIA’s ratification instrument will bedeposited in the near future. National activities include a greenbelt and an afforestationproject.

INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND NGOS: UNDP stressed theimportance of ensuring coordination, capacity building and local participation. With the financial assistance of Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, France, Australia, Sweden, theNetherlands and Switzerland, UNDP is facilitating projects in Africa, Latin America andAsia, including: small grants for local community and public education initiatives; twentyNAPs; and eighteen NDFs, mainly in Africa. UNEP supports the CCD process,particularly in Africa, and will continue to facilitate national and regional initiatives,including the African Deserts and Arid Lands Committee. A revised second edition of theDesertification Assessment will be presented at the COP. The Nigeria EnvironmentalStudy Team, on behalf of RIOD (NGO Action Network on Desertification), called onGovernments of affected developing countries to allow NGO participation in the NAPprocess and of developed country partners to provide a flow of funds.


Delegates continued informal consultations on the implications of a PermanentSecretariat whose programme and management structure is not fully integrated into thehost institution. Some delegates intimated that the compromise text prepared may suggestthat the Secretary-General, after consultation with the COP through its Bureau, willappoint the Executive Secretary. They also anticipate that the proposal would still providefor the Permanent Secretariat to not be fully integrated into the programme andmanagement structure of any particular department or programme of the host institution,in order to ensure that it has the necessary administrative and financial autonomy toenable it to service the CCD efficiently.


At this stage in the second week of INCD-10, there is speculation on whether it will bepossible to resolve outstanding issues by its close on Friday. Some delegates say adocument containing suggestions for the extended Bureau to meet either immediatelybefore COP-1 in Rome in September, or earlier, is under preparation. Some suggestedthat extended Bureau meetings may be held during the Commission on SustainableDevelopment in April in New York, during the General Assembly’s Special Session inNew York in June, and/or during ECOSOC in Geneva this summer. Some argued thatremaining issues would require a larger meeting to be properly addressed.


WORKING GROUPS: Both Working Groups are expected to meet at 10:00 amto adopt their reports and draft decisions.

ACCT MEETING: A meeting for the countries having in common the Frenchlanguage will take place from 1:30 to 3:00 pm at the ACCT Office, Suite 605, 801 2ndAvenue.