The third session of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification’s Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC-3) convened in Bonn, Germany, from 2-11 May 2005. During COP-5 in 2001, delegates established the CRIC, a subsidiary body for implementation, to analyze country national reports. Similar to a report card, national reports highlight the status of the Convention’s implementation by Parties and observers. The CRIC is also a forum for substantial exchanges on implementation issues.
The key thematic topics for the review at CRIC-3 were:
- participatory processes involving civil society, non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations;
- legislative and institutional frameworks or arrangements;
- resource mobilization and coordination, both domestic and international, including conclusions of partnership agreements;
- linkages and synergies with other environmental conventions and, as appropriate, with national development strategies;
- measures for the rehabilitation of degraded land and for early warning systems for mitigating the effects of drought;
- drought and desertification monitoring and assessment; and
- access by affected country Parties, particularly affected developing country Parties, to appropriate technology, knowledge and know-how.
Nearly 600 participants attended, including delegates from 130 state Parties, as well as representatives of UN agencies, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations. Delegates convened in plenary sessions, regional consultations, and informal consultations, to review the implementation of the Convention in Africa, consider issues relating to the Convention’s implementation at the global level, share experiences, and make concrete recommendations for the future work of the Convention. CRIC-3 concluded its work by adopting its report, containing recommendations and conclusions on the implementation of the Convention both in Africa and at the global level, for consideration at the seventh Conference of the Parties, to take place in Nairobi, Kenya, in October 2005.
After the week-and-a-half meeting, many delegates agreed that CRIC-3 had been a useful exercise. It gave countries affected by desertification the opportunity to share information, experiences and lessons learned. It highlighted problems, shortcomings, and challenges in the implementation of the Convention, and made recommendations on how to improve work in this area. However, many also expressed their disappointment over the slow pace of implementation, with some attributing such to the lack of human, financial and technical resources. It was agreed by many, as Executive Secretary Hama Arba Diallo stated in his closing remarks, that more progress and efforts are needed and that we should keep “pedaling” and must not stop.
A number of side events also took place during the meeting. Here are summaries of three of them:
TerrAfrica – Working Together on Sustainable Land Management in Sub-Saharan Africa
On Wednesday 4 May, at lunchtime, the Secretariat and the World Bank hosted a side event on TerrAfrica, a flexible, results-oriented, multi-partner platform to promote a different business model to better channel financial and non-financial resources to support sustainable land management (SLM) in Sub-Saharan Africa. After the opening remarks by UNCCD Executive Secretary Hama Arba Diallo on the importance of building a “coalition of the willing” to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and fight rural poverty, participants heard a joint presentation by Chinyamakobvu Emmanuel, UNCCD, and Christophe Crépin, World Bank, on the progress of TerrAfrica. This was followed by interventions by: Albert Mbonerane, Minister of the Environment of Burundi; Delphine Ouedraogo, Ministry of Environment of Burkina Faso; Ababu Anagr Zeleke, Environmental Protection Authority of Ethiopia; and Christian Mersmann, Global Mechanism. A question and answer session with governments and NGO representatives focused on: relationships of TerrAfrica with funding from the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), organic farming, the role of the United Nations Development Programme and the African Union in TerrAfrica, and the support of the private sector, particularly multinational corporations, to research on SLM.
Launch of the publication “Desertification: Earth’s silent scourge”
During a side event on Tuesday, 5 May, the United States Department of State – Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs launched a publication entitled “Desertification: Earth’s silent scourge”. The book, authored by Phyllis McIntosh, aims at defining, explaining and offering suggestions on land degradation in agricultural and forest areas worldwide. The book presented the American experience of desertification in the 1930s and the consequent land management reform undertaken by the government. Noting that 24 billion tons of topsoil are lost every year due to desertification, the book presents lessons learned in early warning, land and water management.
Practical issues arising from the synergistic implementation of the mandates of the Rio Conventions through projects
On Monday, 9 May, the Secretariat hosted a side event on practical issues arising from the synergistic implementation of the mandates of the UNCCD, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) through projects focusing on sustainable land management. Presentations were made by Siri Eriksen, University of Oslo, and Goodspeed Kopolo, UNCCD Secretariat. Participants discussed how to promote sinks beyond the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), focusing on a voluntary carbon offset market. They then considered adaptation to climate change at the local level and human interaction with vegetation resources. The side event concluded with a discussion on opportunities for synergies and cooperation in financing multilateral environmental agreements though the GEF and bilateral assistance.