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The first session of the INCD was held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 24 May-3 June 1993. The first week of the session focused on the sharing of technical information and assessments on various aspects of drought and desertification. Divided into seven sections, the information-sharing segment provided an opportunity for scientists, technical experts, delegates and NGOs to share relevant experiences and learn more about the scourge of desertification and its global dimensions. The second week focused on the structure and elements to be contained in the Convention. Delegates also exchanged ideas about the Convention and its objectives.

Negotiations stalled in Nairobi over the issue of related regional instruments, while still giving priority action to Africa. Kjell‚n proposed that an instrument on Africa, such as an annex, be negotiated once the main structure of the Convention had been defined, and that similar instruments for other regions be negotiated subsequently. This proposal met with resistance from several countries in regions other than Africa. They felt that their own problems with desertification deserved attention and that similar instruments for their regions should be negotiated simultaneously with the instrument for Africa. The decision was deferred.