Daily report for 1 June 1993

1st Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the International Convention to Combat Desertification


OAU: The representative of the OAU explained how numerousnational and regional plans of action to combat desertificationhave not been effective due to a lack of financial resources. Hesaid this Convention should be an expression of solidarity andpartnership and aimed at the implementation of local and globalstrategies.

DENMARK: On behalf of the EC, Denmark stated sincedesertification is mainly caused by human activity, solutions andprevention strategies must focus on the local level. He stressed:harmonization of efforts; capacity building; cooperation inresearch and technology development; the role of women; and abottom-up approach. The EC doubts that the case studies willprovide a useful basis for programme models. Parties should makecommitments that can be effectively implemented and easilymonitored.

FRANCE: The delegate mentioned that the commitments are notconditions and drew attention to the number of failures in thepast. He said the definition provided for in Agenda 21 shouldsuffice, but that social and economic aspects should takeprecedence over climatic issues.

BRAZIL: The delegate said the definition provided in Agenda21 should not include the humid and sub-humid regions or any forestissues. He said financial mechanisms and transfer of technologyshould be discussed. The Climate Change and BiodiversityConventions should be considered. The content should encompasssocio-economic issues linked to desertification. Policies should beinter-disciplinary and should support local communities.

MALAYSIA: The delegate stressed that all definitions in theConvention should not include forests, unless they are located indrylands. She stated that the process of combatting desertificationwill not gain momentum unless external debt, poverty and economicgrowth are addressed. Malaysia does not want the INCD to initiateparallel negotiations on protocols, as these should be left to theConference of Parties. There should be caution taken whendiscussing linkages with other conventions. Desertification posesa direct challenge to the concept of sustainable development, whichis a luxury that the poor cannot afford.

GERMANY: The delegate stated that this Convention will haveto be judged by how it contributes to solving people's problems. Hestated that there is no need for general principles as theConvention's goals should be as concrete as possible. He added thatthe INCD should not duplicate work of other conventions and UNbodies. Procedures for the elaboration of national and regionalaction programmes should be the centerpiece. He supported the useof existing financial mechanisms.

SUDAN: The delegate said that desertification and drought isnot only a technical problem, but it is caused by social, economicand political factors, including: the state of the world economy,commodity prices, misplaced aid, population growth, refugees, andland mismanagement.

THE NETHERLANDS: The delegate said the overall objective isto combat desertification and three immediate objectives should be:define government commitments; facilitate strategies at all levels;and determine how to monitor the commitments. The Convention shouldidentify the elements that are "conventionable" and place specificareas of work in protocols and regional efforts in annexes. Thecontent should include population growth and migration as itrelates to the role of women, their health needs and maternalbenefits.

CHINA: The delegate said the solution to desertification isa change in human behavior and desertification can be curbed whereall forces of society are mobilized. However, policies shouldensure economic sectors in the regions are developed and thatpeople have access to scientific knowledge. He said technologytransfer should be included, but that success is dependent onfinancial support.

ITALY: The delegate stressed the importance of binding thefuture convention to Agenda 21 and General Assembly resolution47/188. He emphasized the roles of local communities, NGOs,governments, and regional organizations. An essential objectiveshould be to coordinate data collection and related programmes. Hestated the importance of the dispute settlement mechanisms.

KENYA: The delegate stated that local communities mustparticipate in decision making. He said that the Convention shouldaddress issues such as food security, institutional strengthening,financial resources and mechanisms, technology transfer, andstrengthening regional cooperation. All programmes should beself-sustaining in the long term.

UNITED KINGDOM: The delegate listed 11 points, including:focus on the causes of desertification at the local level;emphasize causes rather than effects; emphasize specificcommitments; avoid duplication of provisions of other conventions;distinguish between the commitments needed by affected andunaffected countries; avoid issues, such as international trade anddebt, that are addressed in other fora; and data collection mustnot become an end in itself. He said that the hasty preparation ofthe case studies seems to be inconsistent with the principles ofbottom-up community-led initiatives. The INCD should examine theimpacts of existing funds and not rely solely on the GEF.

FINLAND: The delegate favors a holistic and integratedapproach that includes: local participation; the utilization ofindigenous knowledge; the role of women; institutional capacitybuilding; information collection and networking; access to alllevels of research; and the sustainable use of forests. TheConvention should cover all regions, with special emphasis onAfrica. Annexes should be negotiated at the same time as the mainbody. The INCD should borrow from existing conventions but only toa limited extent.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: The delegate described theproblems his country has with refugees from countries experiencingdesertification and said the Convention should take into accountneeds for both prevention and mitigation.

TANZANIA: The delegate described drought and desertificationin Tanzania and efforts to resolve the crises. He expressed concernabout the overlapping and duplication of plans. Tanzania's nationaldebt of US$5 billion (more than 500% of GNP) does not allow for thenational resources to combat desertification. The Convention shouldfavor local participation, the restructuring of the world economy,debt relief, fair trade, and new and additional resources.

AUSTRIA: The delegate said the Convention should supportwork at the community level and should have a short preamble thatreflects the global view on sustainable development and coverspoverty issues. Principles should come from the Rio Declaration.Other important issues are: demand-led research and datacollection; transfer of technology; capacity building; South-Southcooperation; education; and provisions for dispute resolution.Further work should cover the problem of environmental refugees.

NIGERIA: Chapter 12 of Agenda 21 and the experiences of thePACD form an appropriate framework for the Convention. Combattingdesertification means: preventing desertification in dryland areas;rehabilitating drylands; and ensuring the effective management ofdrylands. Initial Convention funding should be done through the GEFand he cited Agenda 21 that states that the GEF is available as afunding mechanism for conventions.

BELGIUM: The delegate said that they must elaborate aConvention that addresses all forms of desertification on allcontinents, while giving special attention to Africa. He emphasizedthe need to improve natural resource management through restoringthe balance between human and animal populations. The Conventionmust include local participation and a bottom-up approach.Coordination should be at the local and national levels withadequate capacity building. The best use of resources is at theregional and sub-regional levels, and local communities must bestrengthened.

AUSTRALIA: The delegate stated that the INCD should developa framework convention, reflecting relevant sections of Agenda 21and other international agreements. Issues such as trade should notbe debated here, but the links should be recognized. Australiamentioned: the need to look at local knowledge; the role and rightsof indigenous people; the role of women; coordination of existingprogrammes; NGO involvement in the negotiations; the importance ofmonitoring provisions; and any reference to the GEF should takeinto account its restructuring.

UNITED STATES: The delegate stressed the need for improvedcoordination and cooperation. He proposed, as an intermediatemeasure, that the INCD adopt a resolution asking UN agencies tofocus on the problem and requesting them to report on theiractivities at the January session. He mentioned: the need forcapacity building at the local level; better use of existingfinancial mechanisms; and work on the framework convention andannexes should proceed at the same pace and in coordination witheach other.

ARGENTINA: The delegate mentioned: strengthening funding forapplied research, including the socio-economic aspects; supportingstudies of farming practices to control desertification;alternative energy sources to diminish wood use; promotion oflegislation to protect soil; and better coordination betweenagencies.

MEXICO: For Mexico, desertification and land degradation isa political issue as it relates to socio-economic and environmentalfactors. He suggested that there is no time for a gradualregion-by-region approach, and that topics, themes or sectorsshould be in annexes. Mexico supports Agenda 21 and the Chapter 12programme areas that should be developed over time withinternational financing.

SWEDEN: The delegate stressed the need for concrete actionat the local level that incorporates the crucial role of women. Shesaid that she did not see any new window for projects againstdesertification within the GEF. In addition to existing funding,there is a need to find additional sources from IDA, the World Bankand the regional development banks. She stated that globalcommitments should be the same for all participants.

NIGER: The delegate said that the problem merits globaltreatment and the international community must show solidarity withthe regions affected, within a legal framework. There should bespecial treatment for those areas stricken through protocols ofoperation or annexes. International cooperation cannot be abstractand mechanisms must be created to ensure implementation of theConvention.

GAMBIA: The delegate said that the Committee should adopt anopen-ended attitude regarding new technologies. The definition ofdesertification in Agenda 21 is not sacrosanct and could berevisited. The commitments in the Convention should be in the formof exchanges between countries such as information, financial andhuman resources.

NORWAY: The delegate said the Convention should avoidduplication of other organizations' work. She proposed theestablishment of a scientific panel to provide alternativedefinitions and document lessons learned from past efforts. TheConvention should: pay special attention to countries seriouslyaffected by desertification through annexes; focus on preventivemeasures; include capacity-building for food security; and tap intoappropriate technologies from developing countries. Existingavenues for regular development assistance should be utilized.

MADAGASCAR: The delegate explained the importance ofincluding land degradation issues and the centrality of women inthe Convention.

INDONESIA: The delegate mentioned that while industrializednations have the resources and appropriate technology to combatdesertification, the developing nations do not. He added that thereis a need for more sustainable patterns of production andconsumption.

BURKINA FASO: The delegate stressed that Africa should beemphasized in the Convention. The participation of communities iseffective but difficult and should emphasize: decentralization; therational management of resources; training; and an administrativeunit for environmental programmes. Other issues include trade,alternative energy sources, foreign debt and preventive measures.

GHANA: The delegate said the consensus language provided inAgenda 21 should provide a basis to discuss the Convention butemphasized the need to provide a clear definition so clearobjectives can then be identified. He said the Convention should bebuilt on the strengths of the local people who possess immensewisdom.

TUNISIA: The delegate said this is a crucial question forTunisia and that it is urgent to have an international instrument.There is a need to strengthen the volume of financial resources tofind the sustainable answers for countries without means. Hesuggested debt recycling as a possible solution and endorsedChapter 12 of Agenda 21.

NGOS: KENGO presented a statement prepared by NGOs. Theissues to be covered are: biodiversity and climate change; theinequitable distribution of resources; trade patterns; externaldebt; and colonial, post-independence political economies. Sheemphasized the need for community-led programmes, particularlytargeting women, supported by multi-level programmes, andappropriate technology developed from indigenous knowledge systemsand science. Adjustment to risk and coping mechanisms areessential. She said NGOs should be considered equal partners, dueto their role of mobilizing communities.

TURKMENISTAN: The representative spoke of the regionalefforts needed to rehabilitate the Aral Sea. He said that casestudies were needed for both Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan and thata regional meeting should be convened.

ZAMBIA: The priorities for Zambia in combattingdesertification are: improved land-use management; protection ofwatersheds; control of rapid population growth; drawing up a masterwater plan; community forestry and agroforestry; people'sparticipation; and networking between government and NGOs.

JORDAN: The delegate made a brief presentation on salinityand drought in Jordan and his country's strategies to overcomethese problems. He said emphasis should be placed on localactivities and efforts, since desertification starts with theusers. The preamble should cover immigration as a cause ofdesertification.


PLENARY: Discussion will continue this morning on theelaboration of the Convention. The list of speakers includes:Chile, Iran, Portugal, Peru, Botswana, Spain, Mauritania, Boliviaand IGADD. In the afternoon, the Plenary will address Agenda Item5, a review of the situation as regards extrabudgetary funds(A/AC.241/8). A new document updating the status of contributionsis expected to be available this morning. It is also possible thatthe Plenary will address the mandates of the working groups today.Consultations continued yesterday on the Chair's proposal,A/AC.241/L.6, and a G-77 draft proposal that was circulatedyesterday afternoon. The Chair met with the heads of the regionaland interest groups last night to see if there was consensus on themandate of the working groups. Kjell‚n did not want to have a longdiscussion on this matter and expressed hope that consensus couldbe reached before the item was addressed formally by the Plenary.