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Report of main proceedings for 8 January 1997

10th Session of the the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the International Convention to Combat Desertification

Delegates to the tenth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee onDesertification (INCD-10) met in Working Group I to discuss the Global Mechanism, aswell as in regional groups. Working Group I met briefly in the morning and for the firstninety minutes of the afternoon in formal session. The latter part of the afternoon was aninformal meeting to enable the drafting of a new paragraph 4 (mobilizing financialresources), which is the outstanding text for that issue. Discussion of the GlobalMechanism was based on Annex I of decision 9/6 contained in document A/51/76/Add.1.

WORKING GROUP I

The Chair of Working Group I, Mohamed Mahmoud ould El Ghaouth (Mauritania),called the meeting to order and announced the Group’s agenda and organization of work.The Group will consider the Global Mechanism, administrative arrangements for thedesignation of a Permanent Secretariat, financial rules and programme and budget.Delegates agreed that Working Group II would meet Thursday and would not meet whenWorking Group I discusses programme and budget.

The Chair noted that, on designation, the G-77 and China have an official document onthe matter (A/AC.241/WG.I(VII)/L.1), which was transmitted from previous meetings.On financial rules, the text is consensus language with one issue pending. Theprogramme and budget issue is new and time will be allocated to discuss the preliminarytext. The Group therefore would not be able to aim at a definitive decision on this matter,but comments would be taken into account and a full-fledged budget would be submittedat the next stage.

On the Global Mechanism, he noted that INCD-9 was close to a satisfactory solutionregarding the mobilization of financial resources. The text on this issue is bracketed in thedraft that was forwarded from INCD-9. The three alternative versions for the paragraphwere drafted by the G-77 and China, the OECD group of countries and the Chair. Heasked delegates to try to arrive at a definitive decision and sought their flexibility.

The Netherlands, on behalf of the EU, emphasized that they are pleased with progressthat was made at INCD-9. He noted that agreement on the functions of the GlobalMechanism in paragraphs 1 (collecting and disseminating information), 2 (analysing andadvising on request), and 3 (promoting actions leading to cooperation and coordination)had been reached. He stated the EU’s assumption that the brackets around the entire textcould be removed once agreement is reached on paragraph 4 (financial resources). TheEU believes that the basis for this text should be found in the Convention. Article 21,paragraph 4, states that the Global Mechanism is to promote actions leading to themobilization of financial resources, and does not provide for a new funding mechanism.The Global Mechanism could have a catalytic role in this area, whose operational waysand means could be explored by the Working Group. The EU supports the increasedefficiency of use of existing resources, and believes the Global Mechanism could explore the possibility of innovative funding mechanisms and ways in which new funds could beraised.

In the afternoon, Tanzania, on behalf of the G-77 and CHINA, sought clarification fromthe EU regarding three points from its opening statement: (1) what is the “newmechanism” that is referred to?; (2) what does “the Global Mechanism playing a catalyticrole” mean?; and (3) stating that no new mechanisms should be set up while proposinginnovative mechanisms appears contradictory.

BENIN concurred with the G-77 and China. He also noted that the sentence in the EUstatement referring to the need for “efficiency and effectiveness of existing funds... tomaximize their effects in the implementation of the CCD” and that the “GM couldexplore the possibility of finding innovative funding mechanisms...” are in consonancewith the G-77 and China position at INCD-9. Thus, there already is a basis on which theGroup could begin negotiation.

The EU responded to the issues raised. The Convention does not provide for setting up anew mechanism for the implementation of projects and programmes, but enables thesetting up of a mechanism that promotes a more effective way of spending existing fundsand fund raising. He gave three examples of what could constitute “a catalytic role”:facilitating the availability of funds for projects to be funded; giving advice on how tofind funds; and conducting feasibility studies. On the perceived contradiction betweenexisting and innovative mechanisms, the US gave the examples of adapting the debt-for-nature-swaps concept to debt-for-desertification funds and the use of funds from theprivate sector. The US later asked whether the answers to the G-77 and China’s questionswere satisfactory. TUNISIA stated they were satisfactory but not convincing.

IRAN supported the G-77 and China position. He added that although there is agreementthat the Convention should not be renegotiated, the objectives of the Convention cannotbe achieved if adequate resources are not provided for the Convention. He also suggestedthat the Committee utilize the first option of paragraph 4 (the G-77 and China’s) as abasis for negotiation.

GREECE noted that the OECD group of countries had, at the suggestion of the Chair,concentrated on the third option of paragraph 4 (the Chair’s), which was extensivelydiscussed during INCD-9. Alternatively, they could work on the second option ofparagraph 4 (the OECD group of countries’). He also proposed a new sentence to beadded to subparagraph (c) of the second option, which reads: “This would include playinga catalytic role in facilitating the availability of funds for project and programme designand development, from multilateral and bilateral sources, including those that may bemade available from the host organization.”

BENIN responded that there was no agreement yet on a specific option of paragraph 4 asa basis for negotiation and added that the new sentence provided by Greece was alreadycontained in the G-77 and China’s proposal, thus the first option could be used fornegotiation. Delegates expressed their preferences for the text on which to base thenegotiations. COLOMBIA and others supported the G-77 and China text. BOLIVIA,supported by BENIN, stated that a consolidated text would be a major step forward.GREECE indicated that the OECD group of countries was following the Chair’ssuggestion that the Chair’s text provide the basis for negotiations, but welcomedcomments on other texts. JAPAN did not support a negotiation on a specific text as thebasis for negotiations. The Chair stated that his text could not compete with the text ofsovereign countries, and suggested a first reading of the other two options. He convertedthe session into an informal meeting and delegates began to offer comments on theparagraph.

INFORMAL WORKING GROUP ON PARAGRAPH 4: BENIN supported“mobilizing and channelling financial resources to all levels” for the title. GREECEsupported “promote actions leading to the mobilization and channelling of financialresources to all levels,” and also noted the need to see what the text would be before atitle is selected.

BENIN stated a chapeau was not necessary for the paragraph. GREECE and the USsupported a chapeau similar to that in the third option, “promote actions leading to themobilization and channelling of financial resources to all levels in accordance with theprovisions of the Convention.” AUSTRIA suggested that the chapeau text could be addedto the first subparagraph (mobilize financial resources). BENIN suggested that thechapeau text could be one subparagraph. The US stated that a separate subparagraphwould not maintain the relationship between the texts. ALGERIA proposed adding areference to “debt recycling” in the subparagraph regarding mobilizing financialresources.

GERMANY stated that he was experiencing dj vu and thatdelegates were exchanging the same arguments that they had exchanged before.

BENIN, supported by SENEGAL, clarified that subparagraph (c) (facilitate transfer oftechnology) in the second option and subparagraphs (b) (efficiency of existing financialmechanisms) and (c) (facilitate transfer of technology) in the third option are agreed. It issubparagraphs (a) (mobilizing resources) and (b) (channelling resources) in the first andsecond options and subparagraph (a) (mobilization and channelling of resources) in thethird option that need to be negotiated.

The Chair said that the first reading of the text had been satisfactorily concluded and thatnegotiations would resume Thursday. He expected a core group of representatives fromthe G-77 and China and the OECD group of countries to remain for negotiations onThursday evening, 9 January.

IN THE CORRIDORS I

Many delegates commented on what they considered a change in the EU positionregarding the Global Mechanism. The EU’s opening statement to Working Group Iindicated that the Global Mechanism could have a catalytic role in promoting actionsleading to the mobilization of resources in order to increase the effectiveness of existingfinancial mechanisms. A number of delegates welcomed this statement, although somewere not clear as to whether the “catalytic role” implies fund raising. A number ofdelegates from developing countries noted that their priority is that the mechanismmobilize resources not just facilitate the mobilization of resources. Some delegates aresaid to still be pushing for a fund with substantial resources.

IN THE CORRIDORS II

Some delegates commented on the slow start INCD-10 has had. First, only a briefopening plenary was held on Monday morning, 6 January, to allow for regional groupconsultations. Then the negotiations of Working Group II were postponed until Thursday,9 January, to allow for full attention to the negotiations on the crucial Global Mechanismissue in Working Group I on Wednesday, 8 January. Despite the fact that, at theconclusion of INCD-9, many delegates believed that an eleventh INCD session wasunnecessary, some think that the pace at this session seems to suggest otherwise.

Rumors are rife that a “resumed INCD-10” may be held in Geneva or New York inAugust, only a month before the first Conference of the Parties, which is scheduled for 29September to 9 October in Rome. However, some noted that this would entail a toughschedule for the Interim Secretariat between the two meetings and that Chair Kjelln maywant to hold informal consultations during the months between INCD-10 and the firstConference of the Parties to resolve any outstanding issues.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

WORKING GROUP I: The Group is expected to meet at 10:00 am inConference Room 1 to continue consideration of the Global Mechanism. The Group will also meet at 3:00 pm. A core group is expected to meet in the evening to continuediscussions on the Global Mechanism.

WORKING GROUP II: The Group is expected to meet at 10:00 am and 3:00 pmin Conference Room 2 to discuss rules of procedure and the communication ofinformation and review of implementation.

Participants

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