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Working Group I concluded its work for this session after discussing Articles 21-23, as contained in A/AC.241/WG.I/ CRP.4, and revisiting Article 11, as redrafted by the African Group.

ARTICLE 21 -- CAPACITY BUILDING, EDUCATION AND PUBLIC AWARENESS: Paragraph 1 lists a number of different activities that the Parties agree to promote. The following sub-paragraphs still contain brackets:

Paragraph 2: This paragraph says that Parties shall conduct a review of available capacity and facilities at the local and national levels as well as the potential for strengthening them. The US suggested that only affected "developing" country Parties should be required to do this. Portugal and Uzbekistan wanted to delete the term "developing." The last sentence, "The results of such a review shall be included in national action programmes," remains bracketed.

Paragraph 3 and its six sub-paragraphs list public awareness and educational activities. Although China suggested deleting reference to working with NGOs in this context, Sweden argued successfully for its retention. Only sub-paragraph (d) still contains brackets around the usual phrase, "needing assistance."

Paragraph 4 still remains heavily bracketed. This paragraph establishes either an international education and training centre or a network of regional training centres. Norway, the EU and the US suggested deleting this paragraph, since the establishment of such a body should be taken up at the first Conference of the Parties. Several African delegates advocated a network of centres, rather than the establishment of a new one.

Paragraph 5 states that developed country Parties shall provide financial support to enhance capacity building, education and public awareness. The EU called for its deletion. Saudi Arabia and Peru suggested moving this paragraph to Article 22 on financial resources.

ARTICLE 22 -- FINANCIAL RESOURCES: This article was not discussed. The Chair commented that everyone's position had been exhaustively presented during the various stages of this discussion and it is unlikely that further progress can be made. As a result, Article 22 (and Article 21, paragraph 5) remains bracketed.

ARTICLE 23 -- FINANCIAL MECHANISMS: The Environmental Liaison Centre International, on behalf of the NGOs, suggested that the phrase "developing country Parties shall establish national mechanisms," in paragraph 1, should be replaced by "Affected country Parties needing assistance and country Parties in a position to provide assistance shall establish National Desertification Trust Funds." Mali commented that the African Group has always asserted that three types of mechanisms are necessary: existing mechanisms, the establishment of a special mechanism for desertification, and the horizon -- a fifth window in the GEF. Egypt proposed new language stressing the need for greater coordination of aid resources at the national level.

A lengthy procedural discussion followed where delegates expressed concern about what text they would consider in Geneva: Article 23 as it now appears in CRP.4 or a revised version containing other amendments and proposals submitted to the Secretariat. They finally agreed to add some minor amendments submitted by the EU. The text will otherwise be submitted as bracketed for consideration in Geneva.

ARTICLE 11 -- FIELDS TO BE COVERED IN NATIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES: The Working Group then returned to Article 11, as redrafted by the African Group. The new draft, which is clearer and more concise than the version contained in the Secretariat's draft, contains a list of 11 fields to be included in national action programmes. Brazil, supported by Mexico, commented that although this is an improvement, this type of detail with respect to what should be included in the national action programmes should not be incorporated in the body of the Convention. At best, it should be included in an annex. China and Japan said that until the precise nature of the regional annexes is defined, discussion on this article should be deferred. Finland added that if the regional instruments are short, technical and operational, Article 11 could remain in the text of the Convention. Mali, on behalf of the African Group, said that Article 11 is indispensable in the text. Canada and Sweden thought that a modified version could remain in the text.

Several delegates made substantive comments, without prejudice to the eventual placement of the article. Austria, supported by the US, commented that paragraph (i) does not fit here as it would make this Convention hostage to the Biodiversity Convention, since those who did not ratify the Biodiversity Convention would be unlikely to ratify this one. The US wants to delete paragraph (b) on poverty eradication, (c) on pricing and fiscal policies and part of (d) on agricultural practices. Saudi Arabia amended (h) to eliminate reference to alternative sources of energy. The Holy See suggested rephrasing (j) to remove reference to "population policies" and "family planning" and replace them with "national demographic policies" and "free and responsible planning of family size," respectively. Further discussion was postponed until Geneva, where Article 11, as revised by the African Group, will be the starting point.

The Working Group then adopted its report, as contained in document A/AC.241/WG.I/L.2. Since the report is purely procedural it was easily adopted. Working Group I thus adjourned for the session.

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