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There appeared to be consensus on the need for a clear and concise preamble that contains reference to the history of desertification in the UN system. Many agreed that the preamble should include: the causes of desertification; the link between desertification and other problems, including demographic factors, refugees, poverty and trade flows; the importance of community involvement; and the need to coordinate existing regional and international programmes. Canada and Mauritania added the importance of Africa to the list. Brazil thought that a number of benchmark documents should be mentioned, including the 1977 Plan of Action, Chapter 12 of Agenda 21 and the Rio Declaration.

There were only two contentious points in the discussion. The EC, supported by Canada, recognized the need to make reference to the widespread nature of desertification, however, they do not want to refer to desertification as a "global" problem, as this has a special meaning with regard to incremental costs and global benefits. A number of countries disagreed. The second point addressed the relationship between poverty and desertification. Some developing countries urged that the preamble mention this relationship. The EC did not agree.

Norway, supported by the US, mentioned the possibility of merging the preamble and the principles sections in light of the overlap. Nigeria said that the preamble and principles are not mutually exclusive. This argument continued during the discussion on the principles section.