A Clearing House
for Information on the Convention to Combat Desertification
Presented by the
Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
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HIGHLIGHTS OF CCD COP-1 WEDNESDAY, 8 OCTOBER 1997
Delegates to COP-1 heard statements in the High-Level
Segment all day and considered draft decisions in the COW
during the morning. They consulted informally on
outstanding issues throughout the day. Consultations on the
programme and budget continued into the night.
Thirty-six speakers addressed the High-Level Segment, of
which seventeen were ministers, five were deputy ministers
and the remainder were other officials. SENEGAL offered to
host COP-2 in Dakar during the second half of 1998.
CCD AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: The importance of
interdisciplinary approaches and coordination at all levels
was emphasized by many speakers. Food security and poverty
alleviation were stressed by many. CAPE VERDE said radical
changes in the environment, such as desertification, have
to be addressed with an operational and flexible system.
ZIMBABWE noted the acceptance of desertification, viewed in
the 1980s as an African problem, as an international
problem requiring a global solution. He stressed the need
to consider the social and economic ramifications of
desertification. FINLAND noted the need for cooperation
with other fora including the Intergovernmental Forum on
Forests, which officially started its work in New York last
week. BANGLADESH said the correlation between
desertification, food security, migration and the exodus to
cities should be explored. PANAMA said its CCD-related
efforts strengthen its other environmental commitments.
BURUNDI said that despite its efforts to combat
desertification, its situation remains dire due to the
country's social crisis. ANGOLA said the struggle to
survive often means that environmental protection is
overlooked. He asked participants to help end the war in
INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE: DENMARK said that many CCD
principles are in line with Danish development policy. Its
activities include a recently approved project in Burkina
Faso on the sustainable use of forest resources. SAUDI
ARABIA's international assistance in recent decades
included US$367 million to IFAD and US$70.6 million for
development loans to 72 beneficiaries. MALAWI noted the
importance of funding from the interim Secretariat to
facilitate its participation in the INCD and COP-1
negotiations. MALAYSIA has extended assistance and training
to developing countries, including those affected by
desertification. The EUROPEAN COMMUNITY said it has
consistently demonstrated its commitment to fight
desertification. An EC report for COP-1 reviews its
policies and financial instruments, including the European
Development Fund and funds for other regions.
RESOURCE AND TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER: ZIMBABWE called for new
and additional resources and the transfer of
environmentally sound technologies, particularly to Africa.
MALAYSIA said there are sufficient resources available; the
need is for political will to reallocate them to priorities
recognized by the international community. TOGO stressed
the need to speak of technology acquisition rather than
transfer. ARMENIA said financial resources are needed to
combat desertification. EQUATORIAL GUINEA said CCD Article
4, paragraph 2(b) needs to be properly implemented with
regard to debt and supported the establishment of a
national trust fund for the environment.
GLOBAL MECHANISM: INDONESIA said the establishment of the
GM was paramount for the mobilization of financial
resources and to ensure the transfer of environmentally
sound technologies. BOTSWANA appealed for a GM that not
only raises substantial funds but is also accessible and
responsive to the needs of affected countries. ZAMBIA said
that, while a proposal on implementing its NAP has been
prepared, financial resources are required and called for
the GM to become operational as soon as possible.
BANGLADESH said the GM should have the power and mandate to
mobilize funds on its own, instead of depending on
multilateral or bilateral sources.
CCD RATIFICATION: POLAND said a new annex for Central and
East European countries would accelerate the accession
process of many countries in that region. The ARAB
ORGANIZATION FOR AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT is in a position
to become a full party to the Convention.
IMPLEMENTATION: Most speakers described the environmental
challenges their countries face and their governments'
responses. KENYA described an extensive national programme,
including activities at all levels and the establishment of
institutions to implement the CCD, and said that this was
impossible without international financial support. In
addition to administrative and operational measures,
LEBANON has enacted a law on forests that is the most
stringent law of its type in an Arab country and organized
courses on protecting the environment. KUWAIT's activities
include the establishment of a network of observation and
monitoring points to track shifting sand dunes and a desert
studies programme at the University of Kuwait. MYANMAR
discussed efforts to formulate its NAP. SENEGAL has
established an Environment and Monitoring Center in Dakar,
public forums, and actively pursues input from local
communities. EGYPT has established an early warning system.
GUINEA-BISSAU held its first national conference on the
environment in 1996. It has established new institutions to
address desertification issues and prepared a simplified
text of the CCD. UZBEKISTAN is implementing a national
programme to provide safe drinking water, increase the
productivity of pastoral lands and develop alternative
energies. BOLIVIA will hold a round table next month to
present bilateral and multilateral donors with 26 projects.
ERITREA's activities include a tree-planting project that
involved high school students. MEXICO has established its
Secretariat for Natural Resources, Environment and Fish to
coordinate environmental policies in those fields as well
as a public forum in the form of an ad hoc council.
TURKMENISTAN discussed its efforts to elaborate a NAP, the
authors of which investigated wise local uses and methods.
The SUDAN has addressed its desertification problems for
decades. Activities have included workshops for local
technicians and workers and to increase public awareness.
SWAZILAND stressed the importance of education over the
development of sophisticated structures.
GREECE recently hosted a scientific conference that called
for: constructive interaction between the scientific
community and policy makers; information dissemination; a
bottom-up approach to cooperation; and coordinated pilot
projects. FINLAND will host a Ministerial Conference on the
Environment for the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership on 28
November. MALAYSIA stressed South-South cooperation and
said the Asia-Africa forum should be strengthened. EGYPT
suggested the development of pilot projects with countries
in the African region. PORTUGAL said the Annex IV countries
are willing to share their experiences and noted
collaborative activities with the community of Portuguese-
speaking countries. EQUATORIAL GUINEA will host a regional
workshop from 22 to 24 October 1997 that will address the
management of environmental information.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
The COW met for two hours to review some outstanding issues
in the draft decisions adopted ad referendum Tuesday, 7
October, and then adjourned to enable regional
consultations on outstanding issues. Informal consultations
on the budget continued late into the night. Chair El-
Ghaouth said two decisions on the roster of experts that
were inadvertently not transmitted to COP-1 would be put on
COW's agenda on Thursday, 9 October.
RELATIONS WITH THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL FACILITY: The draft
decision (ICCD/COP(1)/L.12) was agreed, with a minor
amendment, except for a paragraph that was referred to the
informal consultations on the budget because it mentions
PHYSICAL LOCATION OF THE PERMANENT SECRETARIAT: The EU's
suggestion to amend paragraph 3 of decision ICCD/COP(1)/L.4
to clarify that the Executive Secretary should act "for and
on behalf of the UN Organization," when negotiating an
agreement with the hosting government of Germany, generated
lengthy debate as to whether the negotiation was a
bilateral or tripartite agreement. The paragraph was left
pending to enable delegates to consult related text on the
climate change and biodiversity conventions.
Regarding relocation to Bonn, it was agreed to amend
paragraph 6 "so that" the Permanent Secretariat starts
operating on 1 January 1999, even if it has not relocated
by that date.
ADMINISTRATIVE AND HOUSING ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE GLOBAL
MECHANISM: John Ashe and Pierre-Marc Johnson, co-chairs of
the informal, open-ended group, reported that agreement was
reached on the two draft decisions on the organization to
host the GM and collaborative institutional arrangements in
support of the GM. However, the specific host organization
was still not decided. The COW adopted the revised draft
decisions without objections. Chair El-Ghaouth appealed to
delegates to decide during COP-1 which institution would
host the GM.
DATE AND VENUE OF COP-2: The African Group proposed Dakar,
Senegal, as the venue for COP-2. The G-77 and CHINA noted
that consultations with the UN in New York on the dates
were still under way. The COW agreed to Dakar by
acclamation, but suspended discussion of the decision
(ICCD/COP(1)/L.2) pending the provision of the dates.
PROGRAMME OF WORK OF THE COP: Regarding the programme of
work of COP-2 (ICCD/COP(1)/L.5), the EU said: it was
satisfied with putting the programme and budget on the COP-
2 agenda; suggested deleting the reference to the draft
decision on the committee for implementation
(A/AC.241/L.42) because it pre-judges on-going discussions
on the matter; and said their amendments to subparagraph 3
(b) and (c) made Tuesday should remain. With these
amendments, the draft decision was adopted.
DRAFT DECISION ON BEHALF OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND
CARIBBEAN GROUP: The EU noted the draft decision
(ICCD/COP(1)/L.14) on activities related to implementation
of the CCD in Latin American and Caribbean Countries
(GRULAC) contained very good ideas. To avoid a
proliferation of similar draft decisions at COP-1 and 2
from other regions with implementation annexes, the EU
amended the text so that it covers the other regional
implementation annexes. GRULAC said it had set up a
regional committee that could consider these proposals, and
discussion of the decision was deferred.
INFORMAL CONSULTATIONS: A 60-minute, open-ended informal
consultation considered the G-77 and China draft decision
(A/AC.241/L.42) on the establishment of a committee to
review implementation of the Convention (CRIC). The
discussion focused on: the necessity for the Committee and
whether it is the most effective mechanism; the timeliness
of establishing a review mechanism in light of unfinished
work of the CST on benchmarks and indicators and regularity
of COP meetings; cost; and whether it goes beyond the
mandate of the Convention. The group prepared a draft
decision for consideration by their groups. It suggests
deferring discussion of the subject until COP-3 and to
transmit A/AC.241/L.42 to COP-3.
IN THE CORRIDORS
Delegates have emphasized the sensitivity of the process to
select the institution to host the Global Mechanism.
Concerted negotiations on the issue continued in the
regional groups. Many delegates noted that there is a
general consensus to select the institution that the
African Group proposes. Some said this was only fair, given
the CCD's particularity for Africa. Some think the absence
of a consensus decision from Africa could result in an
intervention by other regions on the decision. Other
delegates stressed the urgent need to reach a decision on
this matter, to end the COP on a good note.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
PLENARY: 20 speakers are expected during a morning meeting
of the High-Level Segment. The afternoon Plenary will meet
from 14:30 to 17:30 to discuss building partnerships.
COW: The Committee is expected to meet in the morning to
adopt its draft decisions.