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The seventh session of the INCD opened on the afternoon of Monday, 7 August 1995. During the two-week session, four plenary sessions were held and the two Working Groups held their first meetings to prepare for the first Conference of the Parties.

During the opening Plenary, INCD Chair Bo Kjell�n (Sweden) outlined a tentative agenda for the two weeks and said he hoped to conclude the work a day early. The delegates adopted the agenda and organization of work (A/AC.241/32). The Plenary also accredited another 10 non-governmental organizations (A/AC.241/9/Add.9 and Add.10).

Kjell�n then made his opening statement in which he noted that conclusions of the CSD's third session represent a clear political signal that the Convention is integrated with the follow-up to Rio and that it emphasizes connections between dryland issues, land use, food security and socio-economic factors. He said that discussion of a Permanent Secretariat and Rules of Procedure were complex issues that could benefit from the work of other conventions. The Global Mechanism, articles on scientific and technical cooperation, the bottom-up approach and local participation and action are important innovations beyond this Convention with respect to development practice and theory.

Executive Secretary Hama Arba Diallo reported that 107 States and regional economic integration organizations have signed the Convention. Five States, Cape Verde, Egypt, Mexico, the Netherlands and Senegal, have deposited their instruments of ratification and a number of countries have initiated the ratification process. He reported that the Interim Secretariat has compiled seven documents, A/AC.241/33 to A/AC.241/39, covering the issues the Committee intends to address.

UNEP Executive Director Elizabeth Dowdeswell said UNEP would be honored to host the Secretariat, but feels it is not the best equipped to house the Global Mechanism. It is better able to contribute to the development of a scientific knowledge base and indicators, push for land degradation to be considered within the main GEF criteria, identify, evaluate and publish success stories in combating desertification and support the Committee on Science and Technology.

UNDP/UNSO Director Sam Nyambi, on behalf of UNDP Administrator James Gustave Speth, said the agency is available to host the Global Mechanism. UNSO now supports all affected countries, not only Africa, and the organization has changed its name to Office to Combat Desertification and Drought, but retains its acronym.

IFAD noted that national action programmes (NAPs) should not be shopping lists, but dynamic plans that continuously evolve as experience is gained.

Spain, on behalf of the European Union, said the EU attaches highest importance to the CCD and encouraged speeding the process of entry into force. The EU may try to turn in all of its ratifications at once. Switzerland, speaking on behalf of Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States, stated that these countries are firmly committed to effective implementation of the CCD. Their national authorities are working to ensure speedy ratification of the Convention. Pakistan, on behalf of the G-77 and China, stated that it views the Global Mechanism as an institution to mobilize resources for the Convention. Cuba said its government is prepared to cooperate in scientific and technological matters, while Bangladesh reported that its government had decided to ratify the Convention.

CONGAC, on behalf of the NGOs, emphasized the importance of the funds of the Global Mechanism reaching the grassroots level. She added that the necessary resources should be provided to enable the involvement of NGOs and community-based organizations (CBOs) in the decision-making processes and development of NAPs.

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