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Summary report, 11–22 November 2002


The first meeting of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC-1) opened Monday, 11 November 2002, at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome, Italy. The CRIC was established by the fifth Conference of the Parties (COP) in October 2001 to review and assess the implementation of the Convention.

After opening statements and the adoption of the agenda and other organizational matters, delegates began their review of the implementation of the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD), pursuant to Article 22 (Conference of the Parties), paragraph 2 (a) and (b), and Article 26 (communication of information). Delegates met during the first week to hear case study presentations from the five CCD regions, addressing seven thematic issues: participatory processes involving civil society, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs); legislative and institutional frameworks or arrangements; linkages and synergies with other environmental conventions and, as appropriate, with national development strategies; measures for the rehabilitation of degraded land, drought and desertification monitoring and assessment; early warning systems for mitigating the effects of drought; access by affected country Parties, particularly affected developing country Parties, to appropriate technology, knowledge and know-how; and resource mobilization and coordination, both domestic and international, including conclusions of partnership agreements.

Editor’s Note: The summary of the first week of CRIC-1 is available online at

During the second week, CRIC-1 delegates met to undertake a "wrap-up" and an interactive dialogue on lessons learned and to make recommendations for the Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean Regions, and the Northern Mediterranean and Central and Eastern European Regions and Other Affected Parties. On Wednesday, 20 November, a Global Interactive Dialogue was held, followed by statements to the plenary. On Thursday, 21 November, delegates met in an open-ended drafting group to negotiate the "conclusions and concrete recommendations on further steps in the implementation of the CCD." A final plenary session was held on Friday, 22 November, to adopt the programme of work for the second session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention and the report of the Committee to the Conference of the Parties, including conclusions and recommendations (ICCD/CRIC(1)/L.1). The CRIC recommendations will be forwarded to the sixth session of the COP, to be held in September 2003.


The Convention to Combat Desertification was adopted on 17 June 1994, and was opened for signature in October 1994 in Paris. It entered into force on 26 December 1996. The Convention recognizes the physical, biological and socioeconomic aspects of desertification, the importance of redirecting technology transfer so that it is demand-driven, and the involvement of local populations. The core of the CCD is the development of national, subregional and regional action programmes (NAPs, SRAPs and RAPs, respectively) by national governments, in cooperation with donors, local populations and NGOs. There are currently 184 Parties to the Convention.

NEGOTIATION OF THE CONVENTION: In 1992, the UN General Assembly, as requested by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), adopted Resolution 47/188 calling for the establishment of an intergovernmental negotiating committee for the elaboration of a convention to combat desertification in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa (INCD). The INCD met five times between May 1993 and June 1994, and drafted the Convention and four regional annexes for Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Northern Mediterranean. A fifth annex for Central and Eastern Europe was elaborated and adopted during COP-4 in December 2000.

THE INTERIM PERIOD: Pending the CCD's entry into force, the INCD met six times between January 1995 and August 1997 to hear progress reports on urgent action for Africa and interim measures in other regions, and to prepare for COP-1. The preparations included discussion of the Secretariat's programme and budget, the functions of and administrative arrangements for the financial mechanism under the Convention, the Global Mechanism (GM), and the establishment of the Committee on Science and Technology (CST). Considerable progress was made, especially on scientific and technological cooperation, but some important issues, such as the size and membership of the COP Bureau, the host institutions and some functions of the GM, remained unresolved.

COP-1: The First Conference of the Parties (COP-1) met in Rome, Italy, from 29 September to 10 October 1997. The CST held its first session concurrently from 2-3 October. The COP-1 and CST-1 agendas consisted primarily of organizational matters. Delegates selected Bonn, Germany, as the location for the Convention’s Permanent Secretariat and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) as the organization to administer the GM. At the CST's recommendation, the COP established an ad hoc panel to oversee the continuation of the process of surveying benchmarks and indicators and decided that CST-2 should consider linkages between traditional and modern knowledge. One plenary meeting was devoted to a dialogue between NGOs and delegates. Delegates subsequently adopted a proposal that plenary meetings at future COPs be devoted to similar NGO dialogues.

COP-2: COP-2 met in Dakar, Senegal, from 30 November to 11 December 1998. The CST met in parallel to the COP from 1-4 December. Delegates approved arrangements for the institutional linkage between the Convention and the UN Secretariat and the headquarters agreement with the German Government. The Secretariat moved to Bonn in early 1999. The COP approved adjustments to its budget and adopted the outstanding rules of procedure concerning Bureau members, but retained bracketed language regarding majority voting in the absence of consensus. Eastern and Central European countries were invited to submit to COP-3 a draft regional implementation annex. The CST established an ad hoc panel to follow up its discussion on linkages between traditional and modern knowledge. Delegates considered, but deferred to COP-3, decisions on the Secretariat's medium-term strategy, adoption of the Memorandum of Understanding between the COP and IFAD regarding the GM, and the G-77/China proposal to establish a Committee on the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC).

COP-3: Parties met for COP-3 in Recifé, Brazil, from 15-26 November 1999, with the CST meeting in parallel to the COP from 16-19 November. The COP approved the long-negotiated Memorandum of Understanding between the COP and IFAD regarding the Convention's GM. It decided to establish an ad hoc working group (AHWG) to review and analyze in depth the reports on national, subregional and regional action programmes and in order to draw conclusions and propose concrete recommendations on further steps in the implementation of the Convention. Delegates also agreed to continue consultations on the additional draft regional implementation annex for Eastern and Central Europe, with a view to adopting it at COP-4. They noted the need for a declaration on the commitments to enhance implementation of the Convention and decided to invite proposals for the formulation of such a declaration for consideration and adoption at COP-4. The COP also appointed an ad hoc panel on traditional knowledge and an ad hoc panel on early warning systems. It decided to consider the operational strategy of the GM at COP-4.

COP-4: Parties met for COP-4 from 11-22 December 2000, in Bonn, Germany. The CST met in tandem with the COP from12-15 December. The Conference’s notable achievements were the adoption of the fifth regional Annex for Eastern and Central Europe, commencement of work by the ad hoc working group to review CCD implementation, initiation of the consideration of modalities for the establishment of a committee to review implementation of the Convention (CRIC), submission of proposals to improve the work of the CST, and the adoption of a decision on the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council initiative to explore the best options for GEF support for CCD implementation.

COP- 5: COP-5 met from 1-13 October 2001, in Geneva, Switzerland, and the CST met in parallel from 2-5 October. The COP focused on setting the modalities of work for the two-year interval before the next COP, scheduled for 2003. Progress was made in a number of areas, most notably, the establishment of the CRIC, the identification of modalities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the CST, and the enhancement of the CCD’s financial base following strong support for a proposal by the GEF to designate land degradation as another focal area for funding.

Regional preparatory conferences for CRIC-1: Regional preparatory conferences for CRIC-1 took place from 8-12 July in Damascus, Syria, for the Asia region, and from 15-19 July, in Windhoek, Namibia, for the Africa region. The Northern Mediterranean and Central and Eastern European and other affected country Parties meeting was held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 23-26 July, and the Latin America and the Caribbean regional meeting was held from 29 July to 1 August in Bridgetown, Barbados. These meetings reviewed the implementation of the CCD at the Party level, including with regard to the participatory process, and considered experience gained and results achieved in the preparation and implementation of the action programmes. The reports of the meetings provided input to CRIC-1, including conclusions and recommendations from the regional level.



Wrap-up Session on Africa and Interactive Dialogue on Lessons Learned and Recommendations: Opening the "wrap-up" session for the Africa region, CRIC Chair Rogatien Biaou (Benin) noted the commitment of African countries to the CCD process and outlined achievements made at the national, subregional and regional levels in adopting action plans. Highlighting the outcomes of the WSSD and the Second GEF Assembly as evidence of the direction that must be pursued, he stressed that the focus of the CCD’s implementation must be on taking action. Bettina Horstmann (CCD Secretariat) summarized the thematic review case studies, highlighting the outcomes of the previous week’s presentations. Regarding participatory processes, she noted the need to provide incentives to promote continuous participation of local populations, increasing the involvement of scientists and the private sector, and to benefit from decentralization processes. In terms of legislative and institutional frameworks, she highlighted the following recommendations: providing National Coordinating Bodies (NCBs) with the adequate means to fulfill their mandates; strengthening the capacities of CCD focal points; harmonizing existing legal frameworks; and implementing regulations effectively.

In relation to linkages and synergies with environmental conventions and national development strategies, she stressed the need to: build capacities at the local level; enhance synergistic implementation of MEAs at the local level; and mainstream the CCD implementation process into national development strategies. Regarding measures for the rehabilitation of degraded land, she stressed the need to compile success stories and best practices, and to include in NAPs all measures that have been undertaken.

On monitoring and assessment, she highlighted measures to: take into account available information in socioeconomic planning processes; consider provisions in other MEAs while setting up environmental information systems; and identify ways and means on how to better follow CST recommendations. In terms of access to technology, knowledge and know-how, she underscored the need for: capitalizing on traditional knowledge; increasing the exchange of experiences; and combining modern and traditional knowledge. Regarding resource mobilization and co-ordination, she stressed: the need for involvement of ministries of finance in the process of concluding partnership agreements; undertaking participatory consultations with national and international partners; and increasing national budgetary allocations.

Shirley Bethune (Namibia) reviewed the conclusions of the African regional meeting held in Windhoek, Namibia, from 15-19 July. She outlined the objectives of the CCD in Africa, summarized the African stakeholder reports, and discussed the general recommendations made at the meeting including the need to: improve the effectiveness of coordinating bodies at the national level; strengthen synergies among MEAs; improve information dissemination on opportunities to mobilize available resources; and improve in-country consultations on partnership agreements. She also highlighted recommendations relating to monitoring and reporting, improving implementation, and identifying global level actions.

Muftah Unis (African Organization for Mapping and Remote Sensing) introduced the activities for launching the fourth African Technical Programme Network (TPN-4) on remote sensing. He explained the objectives of the TPN in facilitating coherent action for monitoring and assessment by building on the capacities of partners. He reviewed the composition and nature of the network, the setting up of centers of excellence, and the creation of a website to assist local peoples to access and understanding these issues.

Gogo Macina (Senegal) outlined the desertification issues under the environmental component of NEPAD. She reviewed NEPAD’s objectives and priorities, highlighting its programme to combat land degradation and desertification and the actions taken pursuant to it.

In his presentation on the way forward for African NGOs, Abou Bamba (Network for Environment and Sustainable Development in Africa) outlined several measures for strengthening the role of NGOs and civil society organizations in CCD implementation. He highlighted their role in project implementation, collaboration with governments, advocacy, and capacity building. In relation to NEPAD, he suggested that the Global Mechanism (GM) assist in the development of an NGO initiative, and called for the development of indicators to measure CCD implementation progress in the region.

Prior to opening the general discussion, CRIC Chair Biaou requested the African regional representatives from the GM to provide an overview of their activities and to address the state of resource mobilization to affected African country parties. Khalida Bourar (GM) identified the GM’s activities in relation to the identification of key aspects in the NAPs and the creation of enabling environments for implementation in North Africa. She noted that the GM’s strategy was based on the principle of subsidiarity and the involvement of and close cooperation with all stakeholders. Highlighting the measures undertaken, she said that activities had focused on: consultation between national and external partners for NAP implementation; integration of the NAPs into strategic development frameworks; strengthening the role of civil society; addressing the sustainability of NAPs; and identifying synergies among environmental conventions. Addressing the lessons learned, she underscored the value of enabling activities, awareness raising, developing a common understanding of the NAP, partnerships, and transparent dialogues for resource mobilization.

Kwame Awere (GM) highlighted the GM’s support for partnership building, mainstreaming the NAP into national development strategies and national budgets, and strengthening the involvement of civil society in East and Southern Africa. He noted a series of consultative workshops with governments, civil society and parliamentarians, and the development of a subregional support facility to support CCD implementation in Southern Africa. He said that the GM was proceeding according to programmes identified by the member States of the regions, but highlighted the need for more appropriate responses countries emerging from civil strive such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia or countries where donor support is currently low such as in Zimbabwe.

Michel Kouda (GM) noted the GM’s direct support for the development of NAPs and outlined cooperation with intergovernmental and subregional institutions for the development of the Subregional Action Programme (SRAP) in West and Central Africa. He highlighted ongoing activities in Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania to mobilize resources for NAP implementation, noting the development of national partnership frameworks and the hosting of donor roundtables.

During the subsequent discussion, delegates raised several points, including:

  • improving consultative mechanisms at the national level;
  • learning and applying lessons from other countries’ consultative processes;
  • building capacity to access GEF funding, designing GEF eligible projects, and developing investment projects that are complementary to the incremental funding of the GEF;
  • cooperating in joint evaluation measures and the development of country profiles;
  • supporting NGO involvement, capacity building, the use of traditional knowledge, and addressing the roles of women and youth;
  • developing effective indicators to measure progress in public participation;
  • developing and evaluating pilot activities in relation to incentives and disincentives;
  • addressing the lack of national level coordination mechanisms;
  • focusing on legal frameworks at the national level;
  • strengthening the role of the Committee on Science and Technology (CST) in justifying resource allocations;
  • prioritizing desertification within national ministries of finance;
  • avoiding duplication between resource mobilization activities of the CCD Secretariat and the GM;
  • evaluating the GM’s mandate at COP-6;
  • making more effective use of the CST’s recommendations;
  • defining the review of the work of the CST at COP-6;
  • incorporating technical expert reviews in the CRIC;
  • addressing the role of civil society experts in the CST;
  • advocating the use of diversified sources of renewable energy; and
  • focusing on the development of socioeconomic indicators.

Wrap-up Session on ASIA and Interactive Dialogue on Lessons Learned and Recommendations: After a brief introduction to the Asia "wrap-up" session by Rezaul Karim (CCD Secretariat), Khaled Al Shara’a (Syria) reviewed the conclusions of the Asian regional meeting held in Damascus, Syria, from 9-12 July 2002. Noting considerable successes in the region, and the emergence of useful recommendations during the meeting, he underscored the need to promote an open dialogue with development partners and to develop partnership agreements for the formulation and implementation of NAPs.Elaborating on the needs of the region, he addressed matters related to: increasing financial input from national and international levels; collaborating with the GEF; assessing the effectiveness of the participatory process; developing suitable monitoring and assessment processes and integrating their outcomes into project implementation; and determining capacity-building needs.

Presenting an overview of the first week’s outcomes, Batu K. Uprety (Nepal) elaborated on the various linkages between the thematic topics discussed. He named several key elements, including: enhancing participatory processes; supporting international frameworks and coordination; building capacity; mobilizing resources; ensuring effective implementation and replication of successful measures; addressing rural community empowerment; and enhancing partnerships and networking. He stressed the need for multi-purpose preventive and rehabilitative measures and highlighted examples regarding reforestation management, agro-forestry and water reservoirs. Emphasizing the need for partnerships at all levels, he called upon the CCD Secretariat, the GM and the GEF to continue their supportive efforts, and confirmed the importance of the Asian Technical Programme Networks (TPNs) and private sector involvement. Outlining challenges and future goals, he questioned whether community involvement and rural development are highlighted sufficiently in current programmes.

Guoxiang Wang (Inner Mongolia Combating Desertification Association) outlined the climate and dryland conditions in Dalate County, China, stressing that desertification problems in the area arise from, inter alia, climate factors, poor land management, and the overuse of water resources. She highlighted that women are playing important roles in combating desertification through afforestation and other projects, and stressed that their work has significantly alleviated poverty and helped to improve living standards. She said the Government has played an important role in providing training, technical advice, and incentives to make the initiatives successful.Naser Moghaddasi (Iran) described the Asian TPNs and outlined their overall goals to: serve as original frameworks consistent with the CCD; provide capacity-building forums; strengthen regional and subregional instruments; increase participation of network members; and increase activities which are complementary to NAPs.

Khalida Bourar (GM) presented an overview of the GM’s activities in the region. Addressing the challenges for CCD implementation, she highlighted: the need to mainstream the CCD into national development planning processes to ensure that it is assigned a high priority at the national level; the need to address the comparative advantages of other technical ministries and agencies when implementing the CCD; and the need for donors to ensure that at the programmatic level, dryland development is given adequate priority, and that programmes and projects are oriented to meet CCD objectives.

Following the "wrap-up" presentations, participants raised several issues, including:

  • identifying how land tenure systems can facilitate the inclusion of women in combating desertification;
  • increasing awareness of the CCD in government bodies;
  • streamlining the bilateral system of providing support to affected developing country Parties;
  • recognizing Pacific small island States in the Asian Annex to the CCD;
  • addressing practical field experience, difficulties and opportunities in the implementation of TPNs;
  • evaluating the performance of TPNs;
  • sharing experiences and lessons from domestic resource mobilization initiatives;
  • developing training programmes to provide qualified staff for CCD implementation at the regional and national levels;
  • creating a balance between process, planning and results in relation to economic and environmental and between socioeconomic and biophysical issues;
  • the broadening of TPN-4 to promote water use efficiency for non-agricultural purposes;
  • the formulation of an expert group on ecosystem oriented land-use control;
  • addressing the impacts of NAPs on human health and food security issues; and
  • increasing cooperation with the health sector, by focusing on adaptation and priority prevention measures in high risk countries.


WRAP-UP SESSION ON LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN AND INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON LESSONS LEARNED AND RECOMMENDATIONS: Reviewing the presentations from the previous week, Sergio Zelaya (CCD Secretariat) stressed that more participation is needed for CCD implementation, particularly among women and youth at the community and national levels, among NGOs, CBOs, and their networks, and among local and indigenous communities. In terms of legislative and institutional frameworks, he highlighted the need for concrete measures in relation to coherent national policies and measures and mainstreaming, synergistic implementation of MEAs, and new institutions for CCD implementation.

With regard to resource mobilization and coordination, he highlighted the need for: sustainable management practices and financing; financing of preventive measures in vulnerable areas; a strategic approach for private sector participation; and horizontal cooperation through NCBs and focal points. In terms of linkages and synergies, he said attention must be given to: the development of synergistic action plans within NAP frameworks; ensuring that international cooperation agencies promote linkages among national initiatives from different subregions; assistance for small island developing States to attain synergies; and ecological links among MEAs.

Regarding measures for the rehabilitation of degraded land, he underscored the need for: dissemination of information on best practice and techniques; linkages to socioeconomic and biophysical information on desertification and drought; replication; and securing financing on south-south technology transfer. Relating to monitoring and assessment, he highlighted the need for: strengthened support to NAP and Regional Action Programmes (RAPs) implementation; use of a wide range of experiences from ongoing projects; technical information sharing and awareness raising; and the production and documentation of monitoring and assessment results.

Regarding access to technology, knowledge and know-how, he underlined the importance of the sustainable use of traditional knowledge and empowerment of indigenous communities, and the need for financing the replication and inclusion of this knowledge as NAP priorities. He noted that in terms of vulnerability issues, there is a need for institutionalization and harmonization of environmental and development policies at the national level, achieving more effective involvement and participation of civil society, and ensuring that substantial and predictable financial flows are allocated throughout the region.

Karen Smith (Barbados) reviewed the highlights of the Latin America and the Caribbean regional meeting held in Bridgetown, Barbados, from 29 July to 1 August 2002. She outlined the results in terms of priorities at the national, subregional, and regional levels, and she reviewed progress in each of the seven thematic topic areas. Regarding global policy matters, she emphasized the need to address: land tenure issues; reduction of the causes of migration, social marginalization, political instability and conflicts; restoring global equity through improving trade conditions between rich and poor States; and better access to markets for dryland products.

Giselle Beja Valent (Uruguay) presented the recommendations and conclusions of the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC) for CRIC-1, addressing several points, including:

  • mobilizing human and financial resources;
  • promoting integrated rural development;
  • increasing human resource capacity building;
  • focusing on land tenure issues;
  • addressing vulnerability issues;
  • addressing both internal and external migration issues;
  • developing benchmarks and indicators for the early warning of droughts;
  • using traditional and appropriate technologies;
  • encouraging civil society participation;
  • promoting strategies for involving the private sector in CCD implementation;
  • increasing horizontal integration and cooperation, particularly on a south-south basis;
  • strengthening the participatory process in the CST to encourage regional experts to become more engaged;
  • strengthening institutional frameworks and policies; and
  • engaging the GEF.

Valdemar Rodrigues (Instituto Desert) presented a statement on behalf of Latin American and Caribbean NGOs, outlining the region’s progress reflected in the national reports, and emphasized the role of civil society. He said that local solutions are contributing to CCD implementation, but noted that synergies with other organizations are lacking. On the rehabilitation of degraded land and early warning, he suggested that NAPs focus on preventive measures, and noted a lack of relevant government action to mitigate the effects of drought and land degradation. He noted that the data and figures presented in the national reports correspond more to general programmes than to specific actions, and that the situations reflected do not always correspond with the realities of local populations.

During the subsequent discussion, delegates addressed the following topics:

  • ensuring that NAPs are not merely theoretical documents, but actual instruments to combat desertification;
  • making good use of success stories from the region regarding resource mobilization through the GM, and organizing CRIC-2 in order to focus on this;
  • the need for further financial support from donor countries to elaborate and implement NAPs before 2005;
  • the need for the CCD Secretariat to increase the budget for the regional coordination unit;
  • integrating NAPs into existing and well-functioning development projects;
  • developing RAPs and subregional action programmes (SRAPs) with GM support;
  • taking into account the WSSD’s targets for eradicating poverty;
  • stressing the protection of natural resources and biodiversity when addressing desertification;
  • supplementing the GM’s enabling strategies with GEF mechanisms;
  • giving small island developing States special attention because of their small size, vulnerability, fragile ecosystems and limited financial resources;
  • softening procedures to facilitate access to financial resources for small island developing States;
  • assessing the impact of globalization on desertification and land degradation;
  • including in impact assessments the effects of land degradation on the tourism and fisheries sectors;
  • developing inventories of high risk areas;
  • enhancing synergies between policies for promoting food security, combating hunger and combating desertification;
  • ensuring that the CCD Secretariat and Parties contribute to the global campaign against hunger launched at the World Food Summit +5;
  • supporting measures for an international enabling climate for sustainable development;
  • addressing the elimination of subsidies in the agricultural sector;
  • ensuring future debates on the payment for environmental services in the implementation of the CCD;
  • addressing the need for technical and financial support to alleviate and prevent the consequences of natural disasters;
  • promoting multi-stakeholder forums for combating desertification;
  • creating strategic alliances with international organizations;
  • supporting integrated watershed management projects;
  • addressing the issue of the lack of timeframes and targets in the CCD; and
  • increasing south-south cooperation and collaboration.

WRAP-UP SESSION ON THE NORTHERN MEDITERRANEAN, CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPEAN REGIONS AND OTHER AFFECTED COUNTRY PARTIES, AND INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON LESSONS LEARNED AND RECOMMENDATIONS: Elysabeth David (CCD Secretariat) reviewed the main features of land degradation and desertification, outlining the European countries affected by land degradation. She described the stages of NAP development and implementation by affected Parties, and the actions being taken at the subregional and regional levels.

Maurizio Sciortino (Italy) discussed the conclusions of the European regional meeting held in Geneva from 23-26 July 2002. He stressed the need for: the establishment of a uniform methodology for common benchmarks to assess progress at all levels; cooperation with countries from the Northern Mediterranean area; and specific strategies developed for Central and Eastern European countries to mitigate the effects of drought. Ryszard Debicki (Poland) outlined several issues, including the need for: providing training on participatory approaches; strengthening the roles of national focal points; promoting private sector involvement in resource mobilization; including CCD implementation measures in National Strategies on Sustainable Development (NSSDs); developing rehabilitation funds; strengthening preventive measures; and ensuring the environmental safety of new technologies.

Victor Louro (Portugal) outlined the specificities of implementing the CCD in affected developed country Parties and emphasized that the experiences of these countries differ from those of affected developing country Parties. He stressed the need for greater awareness and political will, enhanced networking among both scientific and government institutions, and increased cooperation in affected developed country Parties.

Addressing the topic of coordination with other relevant international conventions and agreements, Igor Ivanenko (Ukraine) outlined the "Environment for Europe" process, explaining that this process operates through various international meetings, under the auspices of the UN Economic Commission for Europe. He said that this process focuses on harmonizing nature conservation in Europe, as well as on securing peace, political stability and sustainable development. He named the following objectives: promotion of region-wide cooperation; strengthening the implementation of regional environmental protocols; providing a broader political platform for regional and environmental activities; and supporting intraregional coordination. He highlighted that the CCD Secretariat has been requested to contribute to the preparation of the Fifth European Ministerial Conference to be held in Kiev, Ukraine, in 2003.

Elena Bivol (NGO BIOS) outlined the activities of a Moldavian NGO to address land degradation. She stressed the need for NGOs to be respectful when interacting with local communities, to understand their perspectives and to take into account the value of local knowledge. She gave some examples of projects involving children and youth, emphasizing that future generations need to be involved in the development of policies, and that they can contribute positively to this process with new ideas and perspectives.

During the subsequent discussion, delegates addressed several topics, including:

  • the need to evaluate the CRIC process, promoting a general discussion in the second week rather than a persistent focus on detailed individual case studies;
  • the low number of NGOs present at CRIC-1, and how to strengthen NGO input;
  • the leading role of small islands States regarding preventive measures;
  • defining "private sector participation";
  • promoting communication between scientists and avoiding a competitive atmosphere;
  • creating new institutions to respond to the emerging institutional demands resulting from NAP development and implementation;
  • increasing cooperation between northern and southern Mediterranean countries;
  • defining the role of the CST in closing gaps between stakeholders;
  • creating linkages and synergies between the CCD and the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters;
  • prioritizing education, training and study programmes; and
  • addressing financial incentives for land degradation on privately owned lands.


GLOBAL INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE: Introducing the Global Interactive Dialogue (GID), CRIC Chair Biaou said that the aim was to give participants an opportunity to stimulate debate and address the main desertification issues in relation to the theme "CCD as a key instrument for sustainable land use and poverty eradication." He noted that the GID would consist of three segments: an introduction by the Chair of the CRIC; a panel discussion; and an open dialogue among Parties and observers. He said that the development of the CCD regime has been a long journey which began in 1992 with Agenda 21 and is still evolving. Noting that the WSSD has given new impetus and hope to the CCD, he called on all stakeholders to take advantage of these new opportunities.

He then introduced the GID moderator, Marc Bied-Charreton (France), who invited the panel to begin their presentations by identifying the way forward for CCD implementation.

Panel Presentations: Valerio Caliziolaio (CCD Panel of Eminent Persons) stressed the linkages between desertification and poverty, and emphasized the benefits to be derived from the decisions of the Second GEF Assembly to designate land degradation as a focal area and to act as the CCD’s financial mechanism. Sina Maiga (Association de formation et d’appui développement) said most country reports only state that civil society had participated, but do not quantify the levels and effectiveness of their involvement. Juan Merega (Fundación del Sur) stressed that the quality of participation and the degree of involvement are insufficient. He emphasized the need to promote local government involvement in CCD implementation processes.

Describing the role of local government in natural resource decision making in Burkina Faso, Mihyemba Ouali (Mayor of Gaoua, Burkina Faso) emphasized the significant roles given to consultation and coordination, and noted the local awareness-raising benefits that have been derived. Boureima Wankaye (Société Achat Services International) described the initiatives that his company has taken in combating desertification and eradicating poverty through the development, production and marketing of gum acacia. He said the success of his company has had a multiplier affect across the subregion, leading to the development of similar initiatives in Mali, Senegal, and Chad.

Manfred Kern (Bayer CropScience) said that multinational companies can play important roles in assisting in combating desertification and that countries must make efforts to engage and provide incentives to these companies so that private sector tools can be used more extensively to assist in CCD implementation. Willem van Cotthem, representing the scientific community, advocated complementarity between traditional knowledge and modern technologies, and recommended selecting successful case studies to create a widely applicable model to combat desertification. Fawzi Rihane (International Fund for Agricultural Development) stressed the importance of partnerships and close cooperation between donors, beneficiaries, local communities and NGOs. El Hadji Sène (FAO) highlighted the FAO Technical Operation Programme for assisting countries in CCD implementation, noting the facilitation of financial resource mobilization, the establishment of partnerships with academic institutions, and the development of training facilities that focus on solutions at the field level.

Philip Dobie (UNDP) highlighted the role that UNDP can play with regard to institutional capacity building and resource mobilization, and stressed the need to enhance the integration of NAP-related issues into UNDP programmes. Remy Paris (OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC)) said that national focal points and responsible agencies must be proactive in requesting international assistance and called for a multi-disciplinary, cross-sectoral approach to adequately address the links between desertification, food security and poverty.

Dialogue: Following the panelists’ presentations and a brief summary from the GID moderator, CRIC Chair Biaou opened the floor for the dialogue segment. Noting that external financing should not be subject to conditions imposed by donors, but adjusted to individual countries, Cuba stressed the need to build up scientific and technical infrastructure to help countries elaborate and implement their own know-how and capacities. Highlighting that the CCD seems to be of limited importance as compared to the CBD and the UNFCCC, Switzerland said that this is due to political and economic reasons, and noted that desertification is often seen as being a distant factor for many developed countries.

Syria highlighted the importance of linking desertification with food security and poverty, and stressed that impoverished affected countries require concrete support in taking this into account when formulating and implementing their NAPs. In order to address the individual needs of affected countries, Benin called for the development of databases with information linking biophysical data to preferable types of agriculture. Burundi called for civil society participation in the CCD process, and highlighted the importance of GEF projects. Noting that the private sector is frequently overlooked when discussing the role of civil society in CCD implementation, Burkina Faso, with Eritrea, South Africa and Norway, called for a greater emphasis on their role in NAPs. He suggested focusing on the development of partnerships with other stakeholder groups including research institutions, technicians in the forestry and agriculture sectors, and the media.

Liberia proposed that the next CRIC session address case studies on the activities of the private sector in addressing land degradation through the creation of income generation projects. Highlighting the links between combating desertification and land degradation and food security and poverty eradication, Kyrgyzstan stressed the need for profitable agricultural activities, sustainable forestry, eco-tourism initiatives and biodiversity protection. Noting the lack of market access for developing countries, he suggested that TPNs address the relationship between economic issues and food security.

Noting that the GM has failed to adequately mobilize resource for affected country Parties, Nigeria stressed the importance of the GEF becoming the financial mechanism of the CCD. The Netherlands called for mechanisms to ensure greater participation of affected and local communities in the CCD process.

Solidarité Canada Sahel highlighted the importance of the linkages between desertification, food security and poverty eradication when implementing the Millennium Development Goals, and called for the promotion of non-genetically modified products.

Noting that participatory processes are costly, Kenya underscored the need to develop participatory approaches that are efficient and effective in ensuring that the voices of communities are included in NAP formulation. Highlighting the lack and uneven distribution of financial resources for CCD implementation, the African Union called on the OECD DAC to increase the allocation of new and additional resources. Noting that technology transfer and financial resources are important for the implementation of the CCD, China highlighted the need to lower the cost of these new technologies for affected developing country Parties. Highlighting the importance of increasing the productive potential of people living in dryland ecosystems, Norway stressed the importance of income generating activities and called on the FAO to ensure a higher prioritization of the CCD in its food security and agricultural programmes.

Noting that the GM has failed to adequately mobilize resources for affected developing country Parties, Nigeria stressed the importance of the GEF becoming the financial mechanism of the CCD. The Netherlands called for mechanisms to ensure greater participation of affected and local communities in the CCD process.

PLENARY STATEMENTS: On Wednesday afternoon delegates met in the Committee to hear statements from governments, international organizations and NGOs. Cuba said the CRIC has helped establish a viable path to the future to orient and expand action taken and to strengthen cooperation, and stressed that desertification is a global problem requiring action by all Parties. Namibia emphasized that the CCD is a tool to alleviate poverty and promote sustainable development by encouraging economic and social development, protecting dryland environments, increasing employment, and facilitating alternative income generation activities. The Dominican Republic reviewed its land degradation problems, noting that more objective indicators are needed in future case studies, and suggested that new topics such as land ownership and environmental education be addressed at future CRICs.

The US stressed the need to organize the CRIC in ways to increase knowledge management and to concentrate on the success stories that have been revealed in the CRIC process, so that knowledge from lessons learned can be used to increase the effectiveness of future activities. UNESCO outlined some of its ongoing projects to combat desertification through capacity building and education initiatives, including the distribution of primary school kits which outline some of the issues associated with desertification.

Thailand emphasized its dedication to the CCD and stressed that although it is a new Party to the CCD, it is actively working to develop its NAP. Brazil underlined its commitment to the CCD process and highlighted the need for: greater funding of initiatives; immediate action; promotion of synergies with food security and poverty reduction projects; and cooperation.

The European Community commended the meaningful and constructive work and the cooperative spirit of the CRIC, and highlighted the need for cooperation, the harnessing of synergies, the participation of all stakeholders, and mainstreaming the CCD. Noting the positive effects of a constructive atmosphere on CCD implementation and poverty eradication, Germany advocated using incentives, and stressed the role of the GM in facilitating developments in political, strategic and financial processes.

Stressing the importance of commitment at all levels, Tanzania expressed a preference to invest national resources, complemented with external financial input, in concrete projects at the local level, and advocated a focus on searching for alternative sources of energy. Israel suggested disseminating success stories with regard to projects solving water scarcity and unpredictability problems, and recommended a shift to alternative dryland livelihoods such as aquaculture. Stressing the importance of self-help mechanisms, Japan noted the need for continuous partnerships between affected country Parties, and recommended enhancing the CST’s inputs to the CRIC. Argentina recommended that the review process focus not only on biophysical, but also on socioeconomic indicators. Calling for a more practical application of the outcomes of national reports, Venezuela stressed the need for enhancing effective financial mechanisms.

On the development of TPNs, Iran underscored the need to launch pilot projects on restoration and prevention, and called for international cooperation to enhance the involvement of bilateral and multilateral donors and the GM in planning towards the operational stage of CCD implementation. Applauding the anticipated positive effects of the CRIC process, Jamaica, on behalf of the small island Caribbean States, highlighted the region’s continuous demonstration of good will to implement the CCD, and indicated the need to increase international awareness of CCD objectives.

Uruguay stressed the link between poverty and desertification and the need to address both issues simultaneously. Emphasizing the need to close the gaps between NAPs and ongoing development projects at the national level, Canada advocated a focus on concrete and efficient action, and said that a less formal CRIC process with more stakeholder interaction would be more effective. Noting the lack of focus on deforestation during the CRIC, Chile highlighted biodiversity loss and food insecurity as important reasons to combat desertification, and stressed the need to make the CRIC-1 recommendations known to other relevant bodies.

Highlighting that the review of the implementation by developed States was insufficient, China called on developed countries, multilateral institutions, and the GM to fulfill their mandates for resource mobilization. Presenting an overview of the work of the Dryland Development Centre, UNDP highlighted the initiation of operations in the Arab States to implement drylands poverty eradication programmes in line with the CCD and NAPs. The UNFCCC highlighted the decisions of the recent COP-8 meeting in New Delhi, India, noting important decisions in relation to: cooperation with international organizations; land use, land-use change and forestry; education, training and awareness; and guidelines and preparation for National Adaptation Programmes of Action.

Noting the need to increase the implementation of measures related to resource mobilization, synergies, food security, and participation, a representative of the NGOs stressed that the current CRIC methodology does not reflect the realities faced at the local level and called for the development of socioeconomic benchmarks and indicators. The WHO said the reduction of health risks associated with droughts and desertification at the local and national levels may indicate the successful implementation of NAPs.


On Thursday, 21 November, an open-ended drafting group met throughout the day to negotiate the "conclusions and concrete recommendations on further steps in the implementation of the CCD." During the negotiations, developed and developing countries expressed divergent views in relation to, inter alia:

  • the role of the GEF and its Secretariat in resource mobilization;
  • GEF support for financing enabling activities;
  • the mandate of the CRIC in relation to its decision-making functions;
  • guaranteeing the long-term rights of local communities to natural resources; and
  • the role of the CCD Secretariat in undertaking a stock-taking exercise on national legislative compliance with the CCD.


CLOSING PLENARY: Adoption of the Programme of Work for CRIC-2: Opening the final day of the CRIC-1, CRIC Chair Biaou presented for adoption the recommendations on the programme of work for the second session of the committee for the review of the implementation of the convention (CRIC-2 (ICCD/ CRIC(1)/L.1). The recommendations note that CRIC sessions held during the ordinary sessions of the COP will: consider the comprehensive report of the intersessional session; review the policies, operational modalities and activities of the GM; review reports prepared by the Secretariat on the execution of its functions; and consider reports on collaboration with the GEF. He noted that the report of CRIC-1 will be used as the basis for preparing draft decisions for adoption during COP-6 and said that prior to COP-6 the Secretariat will circulate the draft decisions in order to facilitate the decision-making process. He said that CRIC-2 will also discuss the future organization of CRIC sessions, in particular the third session to take place in 2004.

In order to ensure consistency between COP-6 and the CRIC-2 session, Canada suggested that the agenda for CRIC-2 be discussed jointly between the COP and CRIC bureaus, and proposed that that the CRIC bureau prepare submissions for COP-6 on the agenda for the third CRIC session.

In relation to the future organization of intersessional meetings, Finland, on of behalf of the EU, said that these sessions should: clearly identify the roles of all stakeholders in the CRIC and ensure that NGOs, CBOs, scientists and development partners play meaningful roles in the review; be structured on small time-limited thematic groups focusing on issues across regions; include the CST expert group; place greater emphasis on socioeconomic issues; be presented with more subregional and regional case studies; address only three thematic issues per session; report on results and outcomes using appropriate indicators; and organize the session over a five-day period only.

Benin, supported by Belgium, Brazil and Senegal, suggested a discussion on how to ensure in future intersessional and sessional meetings that smaller delegations are not disadvantaged by proposals for smaller thematic working groups as well as the concurrent CST and CRIC sessions to be held during the COP.

Supporting Canada and the EU, Japan noted that Decision 1/ COP.5 states that the terms of reference, the mandate and the reconsideration of the need for the CRIC should be undertaken prior to COP-7 and stressed that this issue be considered in relation the work programme for CRIC-2. In response, the Chair, supported by the US and Senegal, underscored the need for future intersessional meetings before any review of the nature of or any reconsideration on the need for the CRIC is undertaken and proposed that this be done at COP-7.

Noting that land degradation affects all countries, China appealed that future intersessional meetings review the CCD enforcement by all member States. Noting similarities to the EU intervention, the US said that the next intersessional meeting should link thematic areas across regions, take advantage of the CST expert group, address socioeconomic data, and meet over a shorter time period. Brazil proposed that the next session deal with: the problems of developing country implementation and the identification of possible solutions in this regard; prioritizing socioeconomic issues; identifying synergies between the CCD and other global processes dealing with combating poverty, hunger and famine; and establishing links between protectionist practices in world agricultural trade and desertification and suggested that the WTO be requested to present data on these linkages.

Supporting Brazil, Argentina noted the next session should address the role of the private sector in CCD implementation and the need to internalize the Monterrey Consensus and the Doha Development Agreement as they relate to desertification, and proposed a working group with the GEF to assist in the identification of the global environmental benefits and incremental costs of land degradation and desertification in relation to the operational programme on land degradation.

In relation to additional thematic issues for future CRIC sessions, Bangladesh stressed its desire to include coastal land degradation as a topic for discussion, and the Centre for Sustainable Development Studies and Application proposed that issues related to pastoralism, and land tenure and its relation to women and communities should be discussed.

The Executive Secretary asked participants to send written copies of the proposals raised in the session to the Secretariat for forwarding to the COP for consideration. He noted that as CRIC-2 will be held simultaneously with COP-6, time for discussions will be limited and that parallel sessions between the CRIC and the CST will need to be held. He added that efforts will be made by the Secretariat to ensure that at least two delegates from each developing country and particularly from least developed countries are able to attend the COP. Mali suggested that rather than reducing the number of topics discussed, fewer presentations should be made on each topic so that there is more time for debate. Prior to adjourning the morning session, Chair Biaou presented a summary of the points made regarding the future programme of work for the CRIC.

Adoption of the Report of CRIC-1: CRIC Rapporteur Franco Micieli de Biase (Italy) introduced the draft report of CRIC-1(ICCD/CRIC(1)/L.1). He stressed that the CRIC was established in accordance with Decision 1/COP.5 to regularly review the implementation of the CCD, to draw conclusions, and to propose concrete recommendations on further implementation steps to the COP. He outlined that during the previous two weeks, the CRIC met in 18 sessions, considering, inter alia:

  • presentations by affected country Parties;
  • comments made by developed country Parties;
  • a report prepared by the Secretariat on actions aimed to strengthen the relationships with other relevant conventions and agreements;
  • a report on financial mechanisms in support of CCD implementation, including the GEF; and
  • information and advice provided by the CST and the GM.

Elaborating on the CRIC’s seven key thematic issues identified at COP-5, he highlighted the success of the discussions in the plenary and the Global Interactive Dialogue, and outlined the structure of the report. CRIC Chair Biaou then presented the draft report to the CRIC for adoption, underscoring that the report is the result of the views, comments and suggestions as presented by all parties to the CRIC.

Several Parties proposed amendments to the draft report. Finland, on behalf of the EU, proposed new text in several areas, including: applying the CST’s recommendations on benchmarks and indicators; inviting the GM to be proactive in supporting in-country partnership dialogues; and strengthening synergies and linkages between the Rio conventions at the local level. Tanzania, supported by Namibia, proposed an amendment calling for the use of new and alternative sources of energy in alleviating desertification and land degradation. With regard to the recommendations on the GEF’s operational programme for land degradation, Tanzania, supported by Ethiopia, Malawi, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and the Southern African Development Community, proposed deleting the current text and replacing it with appropriate text from the decision adopted by the Second GEF Assembly.

Noting the various proposed amendments, Chair Biaou stressed that the section outlining the conclusions and recommendations from CRIC-1 was produced through an open-ended drafting group with equal regional representation, and informed the plenary that in accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the CCD, he would not entertain these amendments. He said that the concerns of the Parties regarding these provisions would be noted in the final report of the session.

Tanzania stressed that the text must reflect consensus of the Parties and said his proposed amendments concerning the activities of the GEF were necessary. Chair Biaou responded that the impugned provisions were adequate, stating that delegates must maintain consensus on the text rather than on the recommendations that it contains. Botswana questioned the Chair’s refusal to allow the plenary to revise the text proposed by the open-ended working group, stressing that Parties have a right not to agree with the working group’s conclusions. Belgium reviewed the relevant GEF Council decision indicating that the text in the draft recommendations is accurate. The Executive Secretary said the practice of the CCD is that the conclusions of open-ended working groups are adopted by the plenary as a whole. Chair Biaou added that the open-ended working group is to represent all the interests of the Parties, is open to all of them to attend, and its proposals must be adopted by the plenary. After discussion of some minor points, the Parties adopted the recommendations to be forwarded to COP-6.

Closing Statements: Commencing the closing ceremonies of the CRIC, the CCD Executive Secretary congratulated participants on the successful conclusion of their work, and stressed the importance of the meeting. He praised the presentations as they showed both the strengths and weaknesses of the CCD, but warned that there are still major challenges ahead and that Parties will have no excuse but to meet the CCD’s objectives as set out in NAPs, SRAPs and RAPs.

Syria, on behalf of the Asian region, stressed that desertification is a global problem and that therefore global solidarity is necessary. The US, on behalf on JUSSCANNZ, said that CRIC-1 was a very successful session, that much was learned, and that he looked forward to helping the process move forward. Uruguay, on behalf of GRULAC, said the promotion of sustainable development models in Latin American and Caribbean countries is difficult due to the environmental, social and economic realities in the region, and stressed the need for increased financial support. Venezuela, on behalf of the Group-77/China, said that the meeting has given delegates a clear idea of what must be done to advance the situation and of the challenges that they face. He emphasized the need for developed country Parties and the GEF to take their financial commitments to the process seriously. The Czech Republic, on behalf of Central and Eastern Europe, noted the importance of the creation of the regional Annex for Central and Eastern Europe.

Finland, on behalf of the European Union, highlighted the many innovative and enthusiastic recommendations made for implementing the CCD more effectively and efficiently, but stressed that action must now be taken on the ground. He said efforts must be made to coordinate action with the GEF. China said the CRIC needs the help and support of all Parties, stressing that as it evolves it will be able to play an increasingly important role in the implementation process. He emphasized the need for the GEF to develop an implementation plan and simplified procedures for funding of CCD related projects, and said that future CRICs should be more balanced, and cover perspectives from developing countries, developed countries and the relevant international organizations to ensure a comprehensive review of the implementation of the CCD.

In his closing statement, Chair Biaou stressed that immediate actions are necessary with an eye to long-term results. He said that the meeting has shown that the CRIC initiative was not an empty idea or a waste of time, and welcomed recognition that it serves an important purpose. Chair Biaou closed the session at 6:10 pm.


In order to further the implementation of the CCD, the CRIC report provides a summary compilation of ideas, suggestions and proposals offered by delegations during CRIC-1. Action on the CRIC-1 recommendations at the national, subregional, regional and international levels should be undertaken after consideration and adoption at COP-6. The report provides conclusions and recommendations in relation to the seven thematic issues identified at COP-5, as well as additional recommendations on further steps in the implementation of the CCD.

Participatory processes involving civil society, non-governmental and community-based organizations

In relation to this thematic issue, several conclusions and recommendations were identified for national level action by Parties, the CCD Secretariat and other stakeholders, including:

  • developing capacity-building measures and incentives to improve the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders;
  • developing methodologies and tools to improve participatory processes;
  • integrating scientific matters into participatory approaches in order to bring benchmarks and indicators closer to end-users;
  • developing relevant educational programmes and appropriate information materials;
  • linking CCD awareness-raising campaigns with education and research programmes targeting a wide range of stakeholders;
  • increasing advocacy campaigns for integrated participatory rural development;
  • focusing a participatory world awareness campaign on the recognition of the threat of land degradation to ecosystems and livelihoods, and its geo-political impacts;
  • recognizing that preventive measures are more cost-effective than restoration measures; and
  • urging the CCD Secretariat to facilitate the assessment of participatory processes through the identification of appropriate criteria and indicators.


In relation to this thematic issue, several conclusions and recommendations were identified for national level action by Parties and other stakeholders, including:

  • addressing the mainstreaming of NAPs into appropriate planning frameworks through consultative processes;
  • strengthening the institutional capacity of national focal points;
  • encouraging cooperation between national focal points and the local representatives of development agencies and GEF national focal points;
  • encouraging a stock-taking exercise on national legislation compliance with the CCD by interested Parties and institutions;
  • reviewing incentives systems, land tenure regimes and protection codes for natural resources to integrate land degradation, desertification and drought measures;
  • specifying capacity-building and training needs for law enforcement and harmonization;
  • addressing the role of the private sector in combating desertification through legislative measures that address sustainable land-use rights and secure investments; and
  • examining the feasibility and potential benefits of facilitating access of affected developing country Parties to international markets for dryland products.


Regarding this thematic issue, several conclusions and recommendations were identified for action by Parties, the CCD Secretariat, the GM, multilateral and bilateral organizations, and other stakeholders, including:

  • undertaking a comprehensive study to provide a perspective on the financial requirements of the CCD in response to public interest concerns in the environmental, economic, social, and political areas in relation to the costs of inaction;
  • assessing and defining on an indicative basis the level of financial resources required for the implementation of action programmes, with a view to drawing up a clear plan of resource allocation prior to COP-7;
  • reviewing and adjusting bilateral and multilateral policies and procedures to facilitate participation in partnership dialogues to foster the implementation of action programmes under the CCD;
  • expressing government commitment to the CCD through ensuring national budgetary allocations to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought;
  • prioritizing resource allocations in order to finalize and/or adopt NAPs, SRAPs and RAPs;
  • enhancing a coherent country level response by the UN system to promote CCD implementation; and
  • linking private sector involvement to the identification of economic and commercial opportunities created by a more favorable trading regime for drylands products.


Regarding this thematic issue, several conclusions and recommendations were identified for action by Parties, the CCD Secretariat, multilateral and bilateral organizations, and other stakeholders, including:

  • enhancing efforts to mainstream the implementation of NAPs in national development and investment programmes;
  • ensuring that synergies take place at the field level through the recognition of the interconnectedness of ecological cycles and the realization of cumulative impacts;
  • ensuring that NAP implementation creates linkages to initiatives under other MEAs;
  • promoting stakeholder capacity-building efforts to carry out synergistic programmes under NAPs;
  • inviting the CCD Secretariat and other relevant Secretariats to assist in organizing joint desertification focal point meetings with officials from other conventions and GEF national focal points; and
  • enhancing social science research and inputs in participatory and synergistic land-use planning.


Regarding this thematic issue, several conclusions and recommendations were identified for action by Parties, and other stakeholders, including:

  • strengthening the linkages between planned financial and technical support in affected areas and CCD initiatives, and pursuing inter-ministerial cooperation;
  • focusing action on a specific territorial or spatial scale to address local ecological and socioeconomic conditions, and promoting and implementing small and medium size projects and activities at the local level;
  • strengthening the capacity for mitigating the effects of drought, including the adaptation of appropriate agricultural practices and technologies;
  • taking into account local parameters when addressing the prevention of land degradation, rehabilitation measures, and sustainable land management;
  • preventing land degradation while maintaining or increasing income generation;
  • enhancing incentives to support the production-processing-marketing chain of natural resource products and improving access to national and international markets; and
  • focusing on the analysis of the causes of land degradation, and on developing measures for prevention in parallel with measures for rehabilitation.


Regarding this thematic issue, several conclusions and recommendations were identified for action by Parties, the CCD Secretariat, intergovernmental organizations, and other stakeholders, including:

  • using available data and observations provided by global climate and modeling centers and regional and national early warning centers more effectively;
  • developing key biophysical and socioeconomic indicators for monitoring CCD implementation, covering the establishment of enabling conditions and the impact of measures taken, and reflecting these indicators in guidance to Parties;
  • adjusting monitoring systems to facilitate their application in concrete measures to combat desertification;
  • integrating efforts to enhance preparedness for natural hazards and disasters under the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction with CCD action programmes;
  • implementing the findings of the CST ad hoc panels in accordance with the relevant COP decisions;
  • making relevant monitoring and assessment technologies available to developing countries; and
  • encouraging the CCD Secretariat, the World Meteorological Organization and interested partner agencies to support the further development and implementation of a comprehensive early warning programme on a regional basis.


Regarding this thematic issue, several conclusions and recommendations were identified for action by Parties, the CCD Secretariat, the GM, multilateral and bilateral organizations, and other stakeholders, including:

  • providing further access to new technologies and know-how from developed to developing countries;
  • strengthening research institutions to develop innovative approaches and technologies to develop both preventive and curative measures;
  • exploiting traditional knowledge and indigenous knowledge systems to address local problems;
  • promoting best practices through the work of the CST and its group of experts, NCBs and the media;
  • supporting capacity building and financial allocation for south-south and north-south cooperation;
  • promoting the networking of scientific institutions, exchange of expertise, technology transfers and training at universities, through SRAPs and RAPs;
  • supporting best practices on combating desertification and the implementation of CST recommendations and priorities through TPNs; and
  • organizing future CRIC sessions to facilitate inputs from the CST and its group of experts.


In identifying further steps and action to be taken by Parties and the CCD Secretariat, the CRIC recommended, inter alia:

  • updating information provided to the CRIC through the preparation of country profiles within national reports;
  • providing information about the state and dynamics of CCD processes and progress in combating desertification at the national level;
  • encouraging the effective involvement of civil society in the assessment of progress;
  • facilitating an in-depth review of national reports to the CRIC to promote a more substantive ground assessment of CCD implementation at the national level, which should underline, inter alia, the usefulness of lessons learned with respect to land rehabilitation, improved livelihoods and enhanced environmental governance, and focus on the impacts of measures taken; and
  • facilitating a joint evaluation of CCD implementation by all Parties within the context of the regional implementation Annexes and submitting the findings and results to COP-7.


In identifying further steps and action to be taken by Parties, the CRIC recommended, inter alia:

  • involving central government, local authorities, CBOs and the private sector in consultative processes to orient and liaise with decision makers;
  • giving renewed emphasis and support to spreading appropriate technologies for soil and water resource management at the grassroots level; and
  • intensifying NAP activities related to education, capacity building and training of trainers, targeting important stakeholders at the local level such as women and youth.


In identifying further steps and action to be taken by Parties, the CCD Secretariat and the COP, the CRIC recommended, inter alia:

  • upscaling successful participatory local-level initiatives and/or synergistic approaches into national programmes through institutional processes facilitated by the CCD;
  • designing and implementing comprehensive work programmes on best practices and an inventory of traditional knowledge in relation to the CCD’s regional annexes;
  • inviting regional and subregional centers of excellence to link up with the CCD process in order to promote synergies between MEAs;
  • collecting and disseminating success stories by the Secretariat through the CCD website and other means; and
  • targeting efforts to synthesize experience on incentive mechanisms for improved land and water use, environmental governance and decentralization of decision making for natural resource management.


In identifying further steps and action to be taken by the COP, Parties, the CST, and the GEF, the CRIC recommended, inter alia:

  • encouraging CCD implementation by achieving the objectives of the WSSD Plan of Implementation and the Millennium Development Goals;
  • prioritizing policies to combat desertification and drought, and including these issues in wider negotiation forums and ministerial meetings;
  • intensifying scientific cooperation under the CST regarding climate change;
  • avoiding the elaboration of parallel planning instruments with similar objectives to those of the CCD;
  • applying NAPs as the basis for a medium-term iterative framework for combating land degradation and drought and promoting sustainable land use and synergies;
  • ensuring that the GEF provides capacity building and technical assistance for testing integrative and participatory programming methodologies that empower local communities to implement programmes to combat desertification and to promote sustainable land use; and
  • inviting COP-6 to consider recommendations and to take appropriate action in relation to a country-driven consultative process to deliver commitments under the CCD.


In identifying further steps and action to be taken by the COP and Parties, the CRIC recommended, inter alia:

  • inviting the COP to take appropriate action on technology, knowledge and know-how, based on the recommendations of the CST and its group of experts; and
  • enhancing policy measures and incentives to encourage the private sector to be proactively involved in supporting technology and scientific cooperation.


In identifying further steps and action to be taken by the COP, the CST and multilateral and bilateral organizations, the CRIC recommended, inter alia:

  • encouraging the COP to take appropriate action in relation to the decision of the WSSD and the Second GEF Assembly on the availability of the GEF to serve as the financial mechanism of the CCD;
  • requesting the COP to consider the recommendations of the CRIC in defining issues to be addressed in the implementation of the new operational programme of the GEF on land degradation;
  • encouraging support by the member institutions of the Facilitation Committee of the GM to increase resource mobilization;
  • facilitating the review by COP-6 of the policies, operational modalities and activities of the GM; and
  • providing support to small island developing States in CCD implementation.


COP-5 was a turning point for the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD) in which the process moved from the planning phase to actual implementation. This new focus was evident at CRIC-1 as participants worked together in a positive and cooperative spirit, exchanging experiences and trying to build on lessons learned from regions across the globe. But the CRIC also had the responsibility to review the implementation of the CCD and report to the COP on the progress made to combat desertification. This is where it fell short.

During CRIC-1 several recurring dilemmas arose. On a conceptual level there was uncertainty on the actual mandate of the meeting, the direction that the CRIC should take, and the appropriate depth of discussions on the topics covered. On a procedural level there was dubiety over how the meeting was structured and the role of NGOs in the process. Generally, debate was not structured on applying scientific or quantitative data and indicators that could determine the success of the CCD in reversing land degradation. Only time will tell if the CRIC can be an effective body for critical review, but if CRIC-1 is any indication, this could be a long and arduous process.


An overriding concern of many observers at the meeting was whether the CRIC met the objectives set out for it by COP-5 in the annex to Decision 1/COP.5. In brief, the objectives of the CRIC were to assist the COP in reviewing the implementation of the CCD in light of the experience gained at the national, subregional, and international levels, to facilitate the exchange of information on measures adopted by the Parties, to draw conclusions, and to propose to the COP concrete recommendations on further steps in the CCD’s implementation. The structural format of the meeting facilitated the attainment of these goals; however, the conduct of Parties in terms of the promotion of political and funding agendas and the raising of issues outside the topics set out by the COP demonstrated either a lack of awareness of or a desire to ignore the meeting’s purpose. This was evident in the drafting of recommendations to the COP, where some delegates tried to negotiate the content of the draft report. References to any possible commitments that could be perceived to arise from the recommendations were contested, as delegates veered away from their mandate to report on the actual CRIC meeting.


Events held between COP-5 and CRIC-1, including the WTO’s Fourth Ministerial Meeting, the International Conference on Financing for Development, the World Food Summit +5, the G-8 Summit, the WSSD and the Second GEF Assembly, led to high expectations for the CRIC to advance implementation in an effective and action-oriented fashion. However, delegates appeared divided among those committed to making the CRIC a thorough review of progress made in implementing the CCD and those interested in using the meeting as a workshop to exchange information.

Participants hoping that the CRIC would critically assess the CCD’s implementation found that the presentations during the first week provided perspectives on the programmes initiated by Parties, but did little to provide objective indications of progress on the ground. But some delegates emphasized that objective standards may be difficult to apply where the diversity of circumstances, conditions, and their interpretations could lead to inequitable obligations among affected country Parties. In addition, lack of human and financial capacities to apply such standards could lead to problems. However, without some means of objectivity in terms of both biophysical and socioeconomic benchmarks, the review turned merely into a celebration of national programmes and policies.

The emphasis on the exchange of information was well received by many delegations, but the degree of applicability of the many lessons learned across regions may be low. The specificities of individual countries cannot always accommodate successful lessons learned elsewhere, putting the efficacy of the case study approach in question. The direction of the CRIC was influenced by the CRIC Bureau’s decision to use case studies focusing attention on information exchange rather than concentrating on recommendations to present to the COP. In fact, the time left for drafting the recommendations was relegated to the penultimate day of the meeting and restricted only to a selection of representative Parties in a core working group.


The themes selected at COP-5 focused on the primary issues needed to build a strong foundation for the implementation of the CCD, but several crucial issues were excluded. These issues include many fundamental topics, which some observers believe must be considered before implementation structures are built based on the thematic topics discussed at CRIC-1. Issues concerning land tenure, agriculture, pastoralism, poverty, and food security in many cases must be addressed before technology, resource mobilization, and legislative and institutional frameworks are firmly established.

Several participants expressed disappointment at the shallow scope of the topics covered with discussions avoiding the roots of the problem. In particular, discussions focused on issues regarding only affected developing country Parties. Topics including resource mobilization and coordination, avoided significant discussion of the causes of many of these problems, such as the impacts of developed country agricultural subsidies. Other participants recommended that not only success stories, but also failures be reviewed.


To strengthen the depth of discussions and the exchange of information, longer sessions in smaller groups may have been more effective. Simultaneously held thematic working groups attracting participants from across regions may have addressed these concerns in a shorter time period (and addressed the concern of some participants that the length of the two-week meeting was costly and exclusionary to those without significant funding). However, such a process may have excluded smaller delegations from participating in all the sessions they were interested in and, without translators, have been discriminatory.

Some delegates recommended that fewer topics be covered, while others suggested covering more topics but with fewer presentations on each. A more balanced focus on developed country, developing country, intergovernmental organization, and NGO activities may also have provided delegates with a more comprehensive view of the issues. In the presentations, the broad guidelines for the CRIC were generally followed; however, subsequent discussions frequently turned to the declaration of political positions, diverting away from the meeting’s purpose. The first week was consumed by case studies from the CCD regions, each based on one of the seven thematic topics identified at COP-5. With a rigorous programme of as many as 12 presentations each day followed by questions from the floor of over 180 participants, time was tight. Often these time constraints led to generalized or fragmentary presentations and ineffective discussions. At the same time, the discussions were often repetitive and failed to approach issues from different angles, such as from the perspectives of intergovernmental organizations or NGOs. The regional meetings held prior to the CRIC allowed in-depth discussions among regional participants, however, the scope of the lessons learned tended not to be reflected in the time-restricted presentations at the CRIC.


In a convention focusing on the needs of the poor, the absence of their voices in the discussions was apparent. Significant emphasis was placed during the discussions on improving the participation of local peoples in the CCD process, however, local voices were rarely heard. Some participants suggested informally that the engagement of NGOs to report and present to the CRIC on the progress of NAPs based on the experiences of local peoples could address both the issues of subjective reporting and the absence of local voices. Others were less sure on the degree to which NGOs could represent those interests.

In fact, only a small fraction of the number of NGOs accredited by the CCD was present at CRIC-1. This may be due to a lack of political will – not so much among affected peoples in the South, but among donors in the North. Only two countries provided financial assistance to NGOs to attend the meeting. Furthermore, since this was a two-week meeting, the financial burden of attending may have been too much for many interested NGOs.


The CCD is often seen as the "poor sister" of the other global MEAs and, in the view of some participants, the creation of a subsidiary body was an effort to keep up with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity. However, many participants stressed that a subsidiary body should play a useful function in advising the COP. It should not solely act as a mechanism for information exchange, but rather critically review the implementation of the CCD providing comprehensive reports to the COP on progress made.

CRIC-1 was a beginning for the implementation review process, providing lessons not only on implementation of the CCD, but also on improving the structure of CRIC meetings themselves. The depth of discussions and the objectivity of the reviews could have been improved. To some participants, the meeting provided a realistic means of improving CCD implementation, while to others it simply provided opportunities to solicit bilateral funding and voice political positions. With time and experience, participants may develop a better understanding of their mandates and progress in the review of the implementation of the CCD. But first the CRIC must determine what it wants to be: an awareness-raising and information-sharing forum, or an entity for critical review.


EIGHTH MEETING OF THE CBD SUBSIDIARY BODY ON SCIENTIFIC, TECHNICAL AND TECHNOLOGICAL ADVICE: The eighth meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity�s Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-8) will be held from 10-14 March 2003, in Montreal, Canada. For more information, contact: CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail:; Internet:

THIRD WORLD WATER FORUM: The Third World Water Forum will be held from 16-23 March 2003, simultaneously in Kyoto, Shiga and Osaka, Japan. A Ministerial Conference will be held from 22-23 March 2003, in Kyoto. For more information, contact the WWC Secretariat; tel: +81-3-5212-1645; fax: +81-3-5212-1649; e-mail:; Internet:

NINTH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT RESEARCH CONFERENCE 2003: The Ninth Annual International Sustainable Development Research Conference will be held from 24-25 March 2003, in Nottingham, UK. For more information, contact: Elaine White; tel: +44 (0)1274 530408; fax: +44 (0)1274 530409; e-mail:; Internet:

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON RURAL LIVELIHOODS, FORESTS AND BIODIVERSITY: The International Conference on Rural Livelihoods, Forests and Biodiversity will be held from 19-23 May 2003, in Bonn, Germany. For more information, contact: William Sunderlin, Center for International Forestry Research; tel: +251-622-622; fax: +251-622-100; e-mail:; Internet:

THIRD SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS FORUM ON FORESTS: The Third Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF-3) will be held from 26 May to 6 June 2003, in Geneva, Switzerland. For more information, contact: Mia Soderlund, UNFF Secretariat; tel: +1-212-963-3262; fax: +1-212-963-4260; e-mail:; Internet:  

XII WORLD FORESTRY CONGRESS: The XII World Forestry Congress will be held from 21-28 September 2003, in Quebec City, Canada. For more information, contact: The Congress Secretariat: tel: +1 (418) 694-2424; fax: +1 (418) 694-9922; e-mail:; Internet:

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON TROPICAL SAVANNAS AND SEASONALLY DRY FORESTS: ECOLOGY, ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT: The International Conference on Tropical Savannas and Seasonally Dry Forests will be held from 14-20 September 2003, in Edinburgh, Scotland. For more information, contact: Edinburgh Centre for Tropical Forests; tel: +44 (0)131 440 0400; fax: +44 (0)131 440 4141; e-mail:; Internet:

CCD COP-6: The sixth session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention to Combat Desertification is scheduled to take place in September 2003, in Havana, Cuba. For more information, contact: CCD Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-2800; fax: +49-228-815-2898/99; e-mail:; Internet:

Further information