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GLOBAL MECHANISM: The Chair, Mahmoud ould El Gaouth, reported that following regional consultations Wednesday, the Group would begin by discussing the functions of the Global Mechanism, as contained in A/AC.241/56.

Chapeau: France, on behalf of the OECD, proposed an additional introduction extracted from the first sentence of Article 21, paragraph 4. Costa Rica, on behalf of the G-77 and China, amended the chapeau to: “In accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, in particular articles 7, 20 and 21, and the financial provisions of the regional implementation annexes, the GM shall function under the authority and guidance of the COP, be accountable and make regular reports to it. According to the principles of transparency, neutrality and universality, the GM, in carrying out its mandate under Article 21, paragraph 4, should perform the following functions:”. Both proposals were accepted.

Collecting and disseminating information: Sub-paragraph 1 (a) was re-phrased and reads: “identify potential sources of financing from...the UN system,...private sector entities, and establish relations and maintain contact with them.”

Following inputs from France, Tunisia, Germany and Lesotho, sub-paragraph (b) was amended to: “Establish and update an inventory of the financial needs of affected developing country Parties for carrying out action programmes and other relevant activities related to the implementation of the Convention, on the basis of information provided by the Parties under relevant articles of the Convention.” The US requested time to study the proposal.

There were no changes to subparagraph (c) that addresses a variety of financing mechanisms, except for (c) (iii), in which “details of” at the beginning of the sentence was deleted, while “and/or mitigate the effects of drought” was added at the end.

At the start of the discussion on paragraphs 2 and 3 (analyzing and facilitating cooperation, respectively), Costa Rica cautioned that because the G-77 and China had not discussed the sections, he will need to re-confirm with his group regarding the agreements reached in the Working Group.

Analyzing and advising on request: No changes were made.

Facilitating cooperation and coordination: France, on behalf of the OECD, proposed amending sub-paragraph (c) to read: “...facilitate coordination through provision of information and other measures concerning relevant multiple source financing approaches, mechanisms and arrangements...” Tunisia pointed out that Article 21, paragraph 4 goes beyond providing information. France also proposed amending sub- paragraph (e) (ii) so as to enable Parties to receive information on eligibility criteria and projects from “international financial instruments and mechanisms, including the GEF...”

Lesotho proposed amending the chapeau of sub-paragraph (e) to make “use of the COP, and other relevant existing fora...” in the provision of information.

As he adjourned the sixty minute session, the Chair said discussion on the Mechanism will be taken up again during the second week of the session.

DESIGNATION OF A PERMANENT SECRETARIAT: The Group considered both the physical location (A/AC.241/54 and Add. 1-3) as well as the administrative arrangements (A/AC.241/55 and Add 1-3) during the afternoon.

Physical location: In the well-attended session that exuded great expectation, Spain’s Minister for the Environment, the Mayor of Montreal, Canada, and Germany’s Director General for Development Cooperation, each explained what the cities of Murcia, Montreal and Bonn respectively, would offer if selected to host the Permanent Secretariat. In addition to presenting each location’s cultural, economic, social and geographical benefits that included the infrastructure and cost-of-living and each country’s past involvement in anti-desertification activities, they made financial offers. Spain will provide 1100 square meters of office space indefinitely, US$1 million every year in technical assistance to the Secretariat, and nearly US$8 million for desertification projects in developing countries. Canada’s package totals US$5.2 million, including office space, technical assistance and financing. Germany offered rent-free office space, US$1.32 million every year for the Secretariat and costs for Convention events organized by the Secretariat, in addition to their assessed contribution as a Party to the Convention, relocation costs for all the Secretariat staff and costs for language courses. The floor was then opened for questions but the presentations did not attract any discussion.

Administrative arrangements: UNDP, UNEP and WMO made statements supplementing the contents of A/AC.241/55 Add.1, 2 and 3, respectively. In light of the mandates given to it during UNCED, by UNGA and its own Governing Council, to support anti-desertification activities, UNEP can provide administrative support, and if another institution is selected, to collaborate and support it within its financial capability. UNDP clarified that it had not offered to host the Permanent Secretariat but is willing to support the institution selected. WMO said that, as in the past, it would continue to offer its support to the Convention. These presentations did not attract any debate either.

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