Daily report for 11 September 1996

9th Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the International Convention to Combat Desertification

Delegates to INCD-9 met in Plenary during the morning and afternoon to hearapproximately forty statements from countries and regional organizations regardingurgent action for Africa. A contact group met during the evening to discuss one functionof the Global Mechanism.


INCD Chair Bo Kjelln opened the Plenary and noted that no formal decision wouldresult from the day’s deliberations, but a Chair’s summary could be included as an annexto the report of the session. The US returned to the issue of NGO accreditation and statedthat it fully supported the list of NGOs.

URGENT ACTION FOR AFRICA: MALI reported on forums that: createdawareness of the National Action Programme (NAP); identified specific problems and thestrengths and weaknesses of the present system; and strengthened local capacities. Anational fund to combat desertification has been created. CHINA hosted the Asian-African forum on combatting desertification. In addition to South-South bilateralcooperation, triangular cooperation with a developed country was discussed.

Ireland, on behalf of the EUROPEAN UNION, said that responsibility for commitmentsto combat desertification lie with national governments. SENEGAL has: established anational coordinating body; created a new forest code that involves empowerment anddecentralization; and organized a week of activities and seminars on desertification.NIGER’s ratification of the CCD demonstrates its political will and commitment tocombat desertification. It has established a national council for sustainable development.

GERMANY has a special fund of $1.3 million to support enabling activities in Africa,and will replenish the fund in 1997. She said representatives of donor countries shouldsensitize themselves to the implications and contents of the CCD. GHANA hasdecentralized its decision making process to allow the local level to take decisions andhas established a national level coordinating committee. A national desertification unithas been established and is engaged in awareness creation. MALAWI stated there is alack of awareness at all levels regarding necessary policy and legal instruments, and evenless is known about the CCD. Workshops have been planned and the media and NGOsare involved in awareness raising activities.

SWAZILAND has held a number of workshops on the national and regional levels and isworking to develop a NAP. The GAMBIA has held meetings with an average of 150participants in its 16 agro-ecological zones to address the national action plans related tothe Climate Change, Biodiversity and Desertification Conventions. ERITREA stressedthat, since desertification is its most serious environmental problem, there is need toaddress the question of land tenure and support sustainable land use. He outlined anextensive seedling planting program, and also invited donors to become partners indevelopment.

ETHIOPIA reported on two workshops: one to familiarize relevant government agencieswith the CCD and one to bring together a wide spectrum of stakeholders. Disseminationof information is carried out by the media, including on radio and in newspapers.NAMIBIA discussed activities under the national programme, including mediaworkshops, meetings with development partners, a review of policy issues ondesertification, and updates to the National Assembly on CCD issues. DJIBOUTI notedefforts to finalize the ratification process.

BENIN has sponsored a number of awareness raising activities on the regional, nationaland local levels and worked out a time table for development of the NAP. PORTUGAL isworking on its NAP and held an experts meeting on the rehabilitation of degraded forestecosystems in Lisbon in June 1996. EGYPT is working on its NAP, which will contain:supporting measures; monitoring and assessment measures; and management andphysical implementation of projects. He looked forward to the ratifications of the CCD bythe US, Japan, France and the UK.

ALGERIA has included references to desertification in its legislation on forests andenvironment. He stressed the costs involved in preventing desertification and askeddeveloping countries to consider debt alleviation to improve the situation in countries likehis. Lesotho, on behalf of the SADC countries, noted that the Southern African regionalprogramme seeks to strengthen institutions and regional early warning systems, and topromote cooperation in sustainable management of natural resources and development ofappropriate technology.

TUNISIA announced it has established an international centre for environment andtechnology, to undertake various activities including the promotion of the transfer,acquisition and adaptation of new technologies on environmental issues, including ondesertification, in response to Article 19. MOROCCO described several initiatives it hasbegun in the environmental arena, including the establishment of an environmentalministry in 1995 and the initiation of the process to ratify the CCD. FRANCE noted thatscientific and local knowledge is rarely used in the field. It will create an internationalprogramme to deal with some desertification issues. France is also willing to organize aseminar in Africa to consider how foundations, such as the GEF, can be mobilized toaddress desertification.

JAPAN stated it has found that rural agricultural projects should be suited to localcharacteristics. The Japan Fund for Global Environment has been created to fund NGOactivities. The NETHERLANDS announced it will accept Burkina Faso’s request to serveas Chef-de-file in Burkina Faso. AUSTRALIA is sharing technology and expertisedeveloped to deal with its own drylands with Asian and African countries. Information onthe draft National Strategy for managing Australia’s rangelands is available from: <<rangelands@dest.gov.au>>.

SUDAN outlined activities undertaken to harmonize the national development plan andthe Convention, noting that most CCD-related activities initiated by the government havenot been given support by donors. SWITZERLAND identified areas they will be funding.He appealed to affected country delegates to provide reports on how they are promotingparticipation of those affected by CCD implemention. MADAGASCAR provided detailsof the four stages they are undertaking in the preparation of the NAP and said theirinstrument of ratification will be submitted soon.

FINLAND stressed the importance of linking forestry and desertification issues. Finlandrecently hosted a methodological seminar on indicators and noted that more work needsto be done to develop reliable indicators. The CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC hasorganized days for consciousness raising. A pilot committee has been developed with aSecretariat and a media specialist. MAURITANIA will put in place a national fund fordesertification and a legal framework, and has organized a national awareness creatingday.

CANADA talked about its initiatives in Africa, Latin America and Asia and hassupported international as well as national NGOs. Awareness has also been raised inCanada under the principle “think globally, act locally.” South Africa described the workof the VALDIVIA GROUP, a group of temperate southern hemisphere countries fortechnical and scientific cooperation. At INCD-8 an initiative was launched forcooperation between NGOs and governments for exchange of expertise. SOUTHAFRICA hopes to ratify the CCD as soon as possible. The EUROPEAN COMMISSIONhas started a review of EU countries’ activities on desertification, which will include anassessment of progress made. An informal task force will produce recommendations andguidelines for the implementation of the CCD.

CILSS has supported member states’ efforts to develop their national action programmesand to develop a west African regional action programme. A simplified version of theConvention has been distributed in rural areas, and is being translated into many of theregion’s languages. CILSS has also initiated a study for a regional facilitation fund.Kenya, on behalf of IGAD, said IGAD has been restructured and now includes an officefor humanitarian affairs. The Convention has been translated into Swahili and will betranslated into many other languages of the subregion. The FAO: will cooperate with the Italian government to host COP-1 in Rome; welcomes IFAD’s proposal to host the GM;and noted that the upcoming World Food Summit is the first meeting organized aroundthe theme of world food supply.

In its work on the Convention, UNDP/UNSO has identified three problems in thepreparation of the action programmes: the national coordinating bodies may not alwayshave the authority or credibility to bring together all the actors; not everyone views NAPsas participatory and iterative processes; and many of the initiatives on NAPs still lackfinancial support. The Organization of African Unity (OAU) highlighted regional andsubregional meetings it has been involved in related to the CCD. He added that the OAUis torn between the need for inter-African cooperation to ensure sustainable development and coping with issues of peace and democracy, including conflict resolution and naturaldisaster control.

In his concluding remarks, the Chair said the Executive Secretary would provide a closingstatement on Urgent Action for Africa Thursday afternoon. After presentations from theother regions, delegates may discuss three questions: what the major constraints andactions have been in launching these actions; what the reaction of people has beenregarding the Convention; and delegates' views on cooperation between the governmentsand NGOs.


The informal meeting scheduled for Wednesday evening to address the outstanding issueson the Global Mechanism, financial rules and the administrative arrangements for thePermanent Secretariat took five minutes. The Chair announced that some delegates, whoare key negotiators and who need to be in the informal group, are also participating in anopen-ended contact group that was formed to find a solution to the still unresolved fourthfunction of the Global Mechanism (promoting actions leading to the mobilization offinancial resources). Consequently, he said, the informal working group would not meet.He hoped that all outstanding issues would be resolved in Working Group I Thursdaymorning. The contact group proceeded with its meeting.


Gabon and Botswana became the most recent countries to complete the CCD ratificationprocess, bringing the total number of ratifications to 45.


PLENARY: The Plenary will meet in Conference Room 2 at 3:00 pm to considerthe situation in Asia, Latin America and the Northern Mediterranean.

WORKING GROUP I: The Working Group is expected to meet all morning inConference Room 1 to complete negotiations on the outstanding issues on the GlobalMechanism, administrative arrangements for the Permanent Secretariat and the financialrules, and to adopt the report of the Group. Look for the Chair’s draft decision on theGlobal Mechanism, which was circulated Wednesday morning.

WORKING GROUP II: The Working Group is expected to meet in ConferenceRoom 2 at 10:00 am to consider draft resolutions regarding: work on benchmarks andindicators to measure progress in implementation; organization of scientific andtechnological cooperation; the programme of work for the Committee on Science andTechnology; and procedures for communication of information and review ofimplementation.

FRANCOPHONE CONSULTATION: The Francophone group will meet from1:30 to 2:30 in Conference Room 3.