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The Chair announced that the English version of the Preamble and Articles 4-8 has been circulated and that the other language versions will soon be available.

ARTICLE 16 -- COORDINATION IN THE ELABORATION AND IMPLEMENTATION OF ACTION PROGRAMMES: Many delegates, including Benin, China, Korea and Brazil, felt that paragraph 1, on cooperation in the preparation of action programmes, duplicated other articles and should be deleted. Brazil noted that the term "assistance" should be replaced with "coordination" in keeping with the Spirit of Rio. The US, supported by Finland, called for greater attention to the concept of coordination in the text, especially as regards evaluation and implementation.

ARTICLE 17 -- REGIONAL IMPLEMENTATION ANNEXES: This article states that guidelines for the preparation of action programmes shall be set out in the regional annexes. Norway, supported by Sweden, wanted to postpone debate on this article until after Working Group II discusses the regional instrument for Africa. As other delegations wanted to take the floor, the Chair allowed ten minutes for debate. Brazil suggested that the specific regional annexes will have to be listed and he questioned what form they will take. He also noted the need to focus on the means for cooperation. Germany suggested that the procedural issues raised by Brazil should be considered together with the substantive discussion on regional annexes. Senegal said this Article should remain as is.

ARTICLE 21 -- CAPACITY BUILDING, EDUCATION AND PUBLIC AWARENESS: Mali, supported by Niger, Kenya and Senegal, affirmed the importance of this article and noted that lack of awareness on the part of individuals and communities is a real obstacle in combatting desertification. Mali proposed the establishment of a network of regional education and training centres. Finland, supported by Iran and Greece, suggested strengthening existing institutions rather than creating new ones. Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Sweden pointed to the uselessness of an international centre and supported Mali in the creation of a network of regional centres. Malaysia requested the reference to "Parties in a position to provide assistance" be changed to "developed countries." Saudi Arabia requested deletion of sub-paragraph 1(e), which calls for the provision of training and technology in the use of alternative energy. China objected to the reference to partnerships with NGOs. This was opposed by Burkina Faso and the Gambia.

ARTICLE 22 -- FINANCIAL RESOURCES: Most delegates stressed the importance of this paragraph. There were no comments on the chapeau of paragraph 1, which stresses the importance of adequate funding for achieving the objectives of this Convention, or the first two sub-paragraphs, which ensure the provision of financing and give priority to Africa.

Sub-Paragraph 1(c) calls for rationalizing and strengthening resources already allocated for desertification and drought. China suggested moving this to the article on national action programmes.

Sub-Paragraph 1(e) explores new methods of innovative financing, including taxes. Saudi Arabia said that taxes and tariffs will double the problems of the affected countries.

Sub-Paragraph 1(f) provides for equitable "burden-sharing" among countries providing assistance. Saudi Arabia and the US said this was unclear and should be bracketed.

Sub-Paragraph 1(g) ensures the replicability and internal sustainability of projects. China suggested moving this to the article on national action programmes.

Sub-Paragraph 1(h) is bracketed and calls for Parties providing financial assistance to be flexible in determining the utilization of their funds. Mali, supported by Gambia, Iran and Senegal, suggested deleting it as it reduces the level of responsibility given to national governments. Tanzania agreed since it does not promote the bottom-up approach. The US thought this subject was adequately covered in Article 4 and could be deleted.

Paragraph 2 calls on affected countries to allocate a substantial portion of their own financial resources to achieving the objectives of this Convention. China suggested moving this paragraph to the article on national action programmes. Greece, on behalf of the EU, said that the establishment of national funds is not consistent with the integration of activities. Jordan, supported by Saudi Arabia and Iran, said that developing countries could not allocate a "substantial" portion of their own resources, but rather an "appropriate" portion.

Paragraph 3 addresses the availability of financial resources. Gambia requested that the brackets around the phrase "new and additional" be removed, since this phrase was accepted in Agenda 21. Iran agreed, suggesting removal of the brackets around the term "concessional." Saudi Arabia said "Parties in a position to provide assistance," should be deleted. Poland said that the term "developed countries" should not be used, preferring "Parties in a position to provide assistance." He added that Poland cannot provide assistance on a "regular, timely, predictable and concessional basis," as this paragraph states. The US also advocated deleting this list of adjectives.

Paragraph 4 is bracketed and states that developed country Parties reaffirm their commitments to reach the accepted UN target of 0.7% of GNP for ODA. Niger, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Tanzania and the Central African Republic said that since this target was affirmed in Rio, the brackets should be removed. The EU wanted to retain the brackets as there was a proposal to incorporate this language into the preamble. The US commented that it has not endorsed the ODA target and would prefer to see this paragraph deleted.

ARTICLE 23 -- FINANCIAL MECHANISMS: There were no comments on paragraph 1, which states that Parties will make use of all available financing mechanisms.

Paragraph 2 recommends an inventory of sources and uses of funds. Iran suggested removing the brackets around the sentence that establishes a clearing house on the types and methods of assistance available. The US disagreed, but thought an inventory of aid flows would be useful.

Paragraph 3: Mali, supported by Gambia, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Iran and the Central African Republic, agreed with the establishment of a special fund, as called for by this paragraph, since they are having difficulty obtaining access to the GEF for desertification activities. Lesotho added that not only does a special fund have to be established but that sufficient contributions must be ensured. The EU and the US preferred deleting this paragraph.

Paragraph 4 calls for transparency and accountability in the management of this special fund. The EU and the US called for its deletion.

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