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One of the biggest challenges facing the Secretariat is how to engage sufficient interest around the issue, and indeed the negotiations, among NGOs, the general public and the media. Many NGOs, especially in the North, do not necessarily understand the direct links to their own mandates and indeed their potential for influencing the decision-making of their governments, especially the donors. Likewise, the general public in unaffected countries is not aware of the truly global implications of desertification and the extent to which desertification could indeed touch their own lives. This lack of understanding is in large part due to the minimal press coverage of the desertification issue in those regions. Awareness-raising must be in large part directed to Northern journalists, to alert them to the issues, to engage their interest and indeed, to point out the possible news hooks and angles to ensure that news reporting on the issue improves both in terms of scope and quality. Look for the Secretariat to begin to expend more energy in the areas of media and public outreach.

One such activity has already been scheduled. The EarthAction Network is hosting a one-day briefing for European NGOs on the INCD on Monday, 25 October 1993 in Brussels. The morning session will include a briefing by INCD Executive Secretary Arba Diallo. He will address: the importance of raising awareness about the Convention among NGOs; the multi-level causes of desertification; and NGO participation. The afternoon session will include a roundtable discussion regarding NGO participation, information and skills-sharing, as well as NGO strategies for INCD-3 and 4. For more information, contact Johannah Bernstein, EarthAction, Blvd Brand Whitlock 146, 1200 Brussels. Tel: (32) 2-736-8052. Fax: (32) 2-733-5708.

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