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Working Group I held its final session on Wednesday morning. The Secretariat distributed a copy of the negotiating text based on the results of the third reading. Skipping over the remaining bracketed paragraphs in the Preamble, the Chair guided delegates through some of the remaining bracketed sections and removed 25 pairs of brackets.

ARTICLE 3 -- PRINCIPLES: Two versions of sub-paragraph (a) (national sovereignty over resources) were initially bracketed. The US agreed to delete the first option and accept the second one. The US still insisted on retaining the brackets around the entire article.

ARTICLE 7 -- PRIORITY TO AFRICA: Canada insisted on bracketing the word "ensure" in the second sentence on the provisions of financial resources or other forms of support to affected African countries. Benin pointed out that this sentence is pointless without the word "ensure." The Chair agreed and proposed deleting the entire sentence. Delegates agreed and four pairs of brackets bit the dust.

ARTICLE 9 -- BASIC APPROACH: Two versions of paragraph 1 (preparation of national action programmes) were bracketed. The EU, which had proposed the second version, suggested a compromise that involved merging portions of the two versions. Paragraph 1 now states that existing successful plans and programmes, as well as relevant sub-regional and regional programmes, will be the basis for the preparation of national action programmes. Such programmes will be updated through a participatory process and will be interlinked with other efforts to formulate national sustainable development policies.

ARTICLE 14 -- MEASURES TO MITIGATE THE EFFECTS OF DROUGHT: The Chair proposed moving the entire article into Article 10 (National action programmes) and creating a new paragraph 2 bis. Brazil amended the chapeau to ensure conformity with Article 10: "National action programmes may include, inter alia, some or all of the following measures to prepare for and mitigate the effects of drought as a natural phenomenon." Delegates agreed to combine the two articles. Paragraph (f) on cloud seeding remains in brackets.

ARTICLE 21 -- CAPACITY BUILDING, EDUCATION AND PUBLIC AWARENESS: The G-77 and China circulated new text for paragraph 4. The Group adjourned for 30 minutes so delegates could discuss this proposal. Despite the lack of unanimous support, it was adopted with three amendments. The new paragraph establishes and/or strengthens networks of regional education and training centres to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought, coordinated by a created or designated institution, as appropriate. This network shall cooperate closely with relevant intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to avoid duplication of effort.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Pakistan re-opened Article 12 (Sub-regional and regional action programmes) and proposed replacing "Affected country Parties" with "The Parties." He felt that there might be problems with joint programmes for the sustainable management of shared resources if one of the Parties involved was not "affected." The Chair said that this article had already been agreed upon and it should not be discussed. Pakistan responded that the existing text was unacceptable and would either have to be changed or placed in brackets. He assured Pakistan that this concern would be transmitted to Paris and that he would place "invisible brackets" around the phrase.

Working Group I concluded its work by adopting its report, as contained in document A/AC.241/WG.I/L.3. The Chair thanked everyone for their cooperation during this "voyage" and said they should all be proud of the outcome.

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