Report of main proceedings for 13 January 1997

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

Delegates to INCD-10 met in Plenary during the morning to review the session’s progressand discuss the situation as regards extrabudgetary funds. Working Groups I and II metinformally during the afternoon to discuss the Global Mechanism and rules of procedure,respectively. A small core group continued discussions on the Global Mechanism duringthe evening.

PLENARY

INCD Chair Bo Kjelln (Sweden) opened the morning Plenary and introduced the firstspeaker, Bernardo Ferraz, Mozambique’s Minister for the Coordination of EnvironmentalAffairs. Mozambique has held an awareness seminar and established a committee for theNational Action Programme. He said it is important to reach agreement in such a way thatimplementation is assured. The League of Arab States identified activities of the ArabCentre to Combat Desertification to implement the Convention and called forrepresentation of the League in the Committee for Science and Technology and thePermanent Secretariat.

REVIEW OF PROGRESS: The Chair of Working Group I, Mahmoud ould ElGhaouth (Mauritania), said a large portion of the text on the Global Mechanism (GM) hasbeen accepted ad referendum. Certain key paragraphs remain outstanding. He wasoptimistic that the Group would conclude with a compromise all could accept. He saiddiscussions on the programme and budget provided guidance to the Secretariat for itspreparation of a complete draft budget, which will be presented to COP-1. The Group hasconsidered the form but not the substance for administrative arrangements. He believedthat the choice between the two organizations that have made offers would be made atINCD-10. The text on financial rules was virtually concluded at the end of INDC-9.

The Chair of Working Group II, Takao Shibata (Japan), reported that there is consensuson the rules of procedure, except for two rules, which would be addressed in an informalconsultation in the afternoon. He said that the second remaining item to be resolved atthis session, the preparation of the organizational aspects of the scientific andtechnological cooperation, has been concluded successfully. Formal decisions related tothese issues will be made on Tuesday afternoon, 14 January.

INCD Chair Kjelln stressed that it is hard to make the GM perfect from the beginning,which is why there is a provision for its review at COP-3.

DESIGNATION OF A PERMANENT SECRETARIAT AND ARRANGEMENTSFOR ITS FUNCTIONING: PHYSICAL LOCATION: Introducing the subject ofphysical location, as contained in document A/AC.241/63, Chair Kjelln reported that, asagreed at INCD-9, discussions have continued informally. During the first week ofINCD-10, the informal group comprised of the three Governments involved, Canada,Germany and Spain, members from the main Bureau and the Chairs of the two WorkingGroups met and expressed satisfaction with the document and the way the exhibitionsfrom the three countries have been handled at the current Session. The group requestedfurther clarification on footnote 7 (UN Consolidated Post Adjustment Calculation)relating to the Canadian offer, to enable precise comparison with Murcia, which will beissued as a corrigendum at COP-1. The informal group agreed on the selection procedureused at COP-1 for the Biodiversity and Climate Change conventions and will consultfurther on the modalities for follow-up and the details of the procedures to be followed atCOP-1. No questions were raised from the floor.

REVIEW OF THE SITUATION AS REGARDS EXTRABUDGETARYFUNDS: Executive Secretary Arba Diallo introduced the relevant documents.A/AC.241/69 contains a report on the financial expenditures from the UN regular budgetup to September 1996, mainly used for: staff, experts and consultants’ salaries;communication; travel of Secretariat staff to INCD-8 and 9; official travel forconsultations with members of the Committee; and meetings of interest to the Secretariat.Appendix F contains the table on staffing. He noted that the table is only indicativebecause staff are often called upon to undertake activities that are not their responsibility.Annex B provides the status of contributions to the Trust Funds up to 24 October 1996.An update on the contributions made to date is contained in A/AC.241/69/Add.2. Pledgesmade but not received by countries and other UN organizations and agencies arecontained in A/AC.241/69/Add.1.

Table 1 of Appendix C indicates the expenditures from the Trust Fund, most of whichwere used for awareness raising, information dissemination and support to NGOs. Table2 indicates expenditures from the Special Voluntary Fund through which delegates from61 affected developing countries were supported. A corrigendum, A/AC.241/69/Corr.1,contains corrections of errors.

The G-77 and CHINA expressed appreciation to the countries and agencies that havecontributed to the extrabudgetary funds, and appealed to countries, agencies and NGOsfor contributions. The EU said that, with the CCD’s entry into force, the bottom-upapproach of the Convention should be kept in mind. Ownership belongs to theimplementing countries and the driving force should not be external. He noted that theCOP will give more guidance to the Secretariat on ways and means to perform its role.

GERMANY said the question of the sustainability of programmes is important. The CCDgives the Secretariat a subsidiary role that includes taking action when the Convention isstuck or ensuring that there are no overlapping activities. He also called attention toGerman financial contributions for CCD activities, as well as bilateral contributions.CANADA noted it has been a strong supporter of the Convention and has madecontributions to its Trust Fund. It has also helped fund NGO participation. Canadarecognizes the importance of local ownership.

BENIN thanked those who contributed to the extrabudgetary funds, and expressed hopethat additional contributions would supplement those pledged. He stated that theConvention is clear regarding the role of the Secretariat and nothing indicates that itshould play a subsidiary role after entry into force.

SPAIN said its commitment to combatting desertification is shown in its participation inINCD activities. Spain has held seminars and workshops in the Northern Mediterraneanregion, in Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Northern Africa. BOLIVIA thoughtthe resources were used effectively and stressed the need for continuous support in theimplementation phase. He said desertification has to become part of countries’ politicalagendas, which is why awareness raising seminars have been held in Latin America.

In response to comments, the Executive Secretary said there was a need to make certainthat activities on national and subregional levels are effective. On the role of theSecretariat, he said the Interim Secretariat was waiting for a decision at COP-1 on thePermanent Secretariat’s role. He stressed that the Interim Secretariat follows instructionsin the Convention to undertake public relations and awareness work.

INCD Chair Kjelln noted that the Committee will know what the Secretariat should dowhen other components, such as the Global Mechanism, have been designed. There isstill time because the General Assembly has decided that the Permanent Secretariatshould start operating no later than 31 December 1998. He also recalled the difficultsituation in 1995 when funds were running low, and thanked countries who are makingcontributions to the Voluntary Fund. Kjelln then proposed a procedural decision toauthorize the use of resources under existing funds for the participation of affectedcountry Parties to COP-1. Finally, Kjelln said he had met with the Women’s Caucus todiscuss setting up a panel at COP-1 on the participation of women in the implementationof the Convention. He will also meet with NGOs this week.

WORKING GROUP I

The Group met in an informal session and delegates considered the unresolved portionsof the negotiating text on the GM distributed on Friday, 10 January. A proposal was madeto add “as appropriate” to bracketed text noting that the GM’s activities “could includeplaying a catalytic role in facilitating the availability of funds for project and programmedesign and development from bilateral and multilateral sources...”

Bracketed choices regarding the “mobilization/facilitation of mobilization,”“promotion/promotion to ensure” and “channelling/promotion of channelling” ofresources remained the focus of disagreement and discussion. The regional groupsindicated a willingness to continue negotiations, but none accepted the other’s alternativetext. It was noted that one regional group believes the GM should have a political rolewhile the other believes it should have a financial role. A suggested compromise was toinclude both roles. Another suggestion was to separate references to Parties’responsibilities to mobilize and channel resources and the organization of the GM. Theinformal group adjourned and a small core group reconvened to continue negotiating thetext.

WORKING GROUP II

RULES OF PROCEDURE: An informal open-ended consultation was convenedin an attempt to resolve the outstanding issues in rules 22, paragraph 1 andrule 31. These issues deal with: the number of the COP Bureau members (threeor nine Vice-Chairpersons), and Bureau members of the subsidiary bodies (four or nine);whether every geographical region should be represented by two members on the Bureauor if Africa should be allowed three members; and if due regard should be paid to therepresentation of regions referred to in the implementation annexes of the Conventionwhen appointing members to the COP Bureau. Despite substantial attempts to resolvethese issues, no agreement was reached. Informal consultations may continue during thisweek.

IN THE CORRIDORS

Delegates reported that the core group convened by Working Group I discussed theconcept of the Global Mechanism prior to adjourning to attend the Canadian-sponsoreddinner. Following the dinner and discussion regarding the Canadian bid to host thePermanent Secretariat, the group was expected to reconvene. The core group, as selectedlast week, was to include: Australia, Benin, Bolivia, China, Cuba, France, Germany,Greece, India, Iran, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Tanzania, Uganda and the US.Russia also participated in the talks. Some remained optimistic that an agreement wouldbe reached by the close of INCD-10.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

WORKING GROUP I: The Working Group is expected to meet at 10:00 am. Anupdate on the core group’s discussions is anticipated. They may also discuss the Chair’sdraft decision on designation of the Permanent Secretariat: administrative arrangements.

WORKING GROUP II: The Working Group is expected to meet at 3:00 pm toconsider draft decisions on the rules of procedure and the Committee on Science andTechnology’s work programme. Informal consultations may take place during themorning.

Participants

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