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The Plenary met briefly Friday morning to hear statements from UNEP Executive-Director Elizabeth Dowdeswell and ministers from the Central African Republic and Guinea Bissau. In the afternoon, the Plenary heard a lengthy statement from the Executive-Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa.

UNEP: Elizabeth Dowdeswell said with consensus close at hand, attention must turn to implementation, the true test of any treaty's effectiveness. UNEP will play a substantial role in implementing the Convention, by supporting activities at the regional, sub-regional and national level. UNEP will also continue to support NGOs and the public awareness campaign, and work in cooperation with other UN agencies. UNEP has been working with UNDP to bring their comparative advantages to bear to support the Convention in such areas as capacity and institution building, and networking.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Martin Gbafolo, Minister for Water, Forests, Hunting, Fishing, Tourism and the Environment, urged delegates to: ensure that the African annex is clear and effective; establish a specific Africa fund as a central body in the implementation of the Convention; focus on the elimination of poverty as central to combatting desertification; and establish a scientific and technological cooperation institution open to all Parties.

GUINEA BISSAU: Mario Cabral, the Minister of Rural Development and Agriculture, said that African countries need technical assistance to implement anti-desertification activities as well as to fight for survival and a better future. Sufficient financial resources and mechanisms must be deployed.

ECA: Mr. Layashi Yaker, Executive-Secretary of the ECA noted that the regional commissions have an important role to play in social and economic development. He said that the African annex is a bold and courageous attempt to reverse trends and enable countries to achieve sustainable development. The 36 ECA institutions in Africa will play a major role in the implementation of the Convention.

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