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Daily report for 6 January 1997

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

The tenth session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Convention to CombatDesertification (INCD-10) is meeting in New York from 6-17 January, 1997. Delegatesmet in a brief opening Plenary on Monday, 6 January, following which they met inregional groups. They also met in Plenary during the afternoon on Tuesday, 7 January, tohear introductory statements, and consider the status of signature and ratification andNGO accreditation.


ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA AND ORGANIZATION OF WORK: INCDChair Bo Kjelln (Sweden) opened the brief Monday morning Plenary. The programmeof work was adopted and it was noted with satisfaction that the Convention had enteredinto force since the last INCD session.

Delegates adopted the Agenda (A/AC.241/62) and agreed to alter the organization ofwork so that Working Group I would be the only group to meet on Wednesday, 8January, to allow for maximum attention to be given to the Global Mechanism on whichWorking Group I’s discussions would begin Wednesday. Working Group II willcommence on Thursday.


NGO ACCREDITATION: INCD Chair Kjelln drew attention to theaccreditation of 23 new NGOs, as contained in A/AC.241/9/Add.13, which would bringthe total to 360. At the suggestion of the Chair, the Committee postponed discussion ofthe issue to the Plenary of the second week, Monday, 13 January.

ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF THE BUREAU: Cte d’Ivoire, current Chair ofthe African Group, proposed the election of Amb. Yacuobou Adam Fassassi of Benin asVice-Chair in the Bureau of the Committee, to replace Amb. Ren Valry Mongb ofBenin who has taken up another assignment. Amb. Fassasi was elected by acclamation.

INTRODUCTORY STATEMENTS: Under-Secretary General Nitin Desai, UNDepartment of Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development, explained that theCCD is a truly sustainable development Convention. He said its content deals with coredevelopment issues, provides the opportunity to integrate environment and developmentat the point at which action takes place and provides a test case of our capacity toimplement the ambitious programmes that are negotiated at the international level. Hereiterated the Department’s commitment to support the Interim Secretariat.

Chair Kjelln noted that the Convention had entered into force on 26 December 1996after the 50th ratification by Chad. He pointed out that for the first Conference of theParties (COP-1) to be successful, adequate preparation is needed. The central issues atthis session are: the functioning and host organization of the Global Mechanism; the workprogramme and budget and the role of the Permanent Secretariat, as contained indocument A/AC.241/65; and the enabling of the Committee on Science and Technologyto meet in connection with COP-1. Other issues are: the accreditation of NGOs at COP-1;rules of procedure and financial rules; and benchmarks and indicators. The Secretariatwill circulate a check-list of decisions that have to be taken at COP-1. Kjelln stressed thetime pressure the Committee is under in order to prepare for COP-1 and pointed out thelink between the INCD process and the meetings of the Commission on SustainableDevelopment and the UN Special Session of the General Assembly for the review of theimplementation of Agenda 21 to be held later this year. On Monday, 13 January, thegeneral negotiating situation will be reviewed. He said the Working Groups must finalizetheir work at the very latest on Tuesday evening, January 14.

Salif Diallo, Minister of Environment and Water of BURKINA FASO, welcomed theentry into force of the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD) two years after itsadoption. He noted that action in Africa had been slow, but ensured that Africanministries were committed to implementing the CCD. He urged developed countries toraise awareness about the CCD and called for the realization of the spirit of partnership inthe Convention. Burkina Faso has planned a national partnership system, which is goingto hold its first meeting in June. He also highlighted the importance of the GlobalMechanism. Without it, the CCD would lose its innovative character and sisterhood withthe conventions on biodiversity and climate change.

MONGOLIA’s Minister of Nature and the Environment, Tsohiogiin Adyasuren, notedthe importance of the World Food Summit held late 1996 and emphasized the strong linkbetween poverty alleviation, food security issues and desertification. In Mongolia,combatting desertification, biodiversity and decentralization are being dealt with in anintegrated manner. He noted the link between land tenure, desertification and foodsecurity issues. He added that, in Mongolia, the state owns the land, which affects landuse practices, thus it is preparing to develop a legal framework for land ownership by itscitizens.

Executive Secretary Diallo stated that 60 countries have now acceded to or ratified theConvention. He updated delegates regarding preparatory measures and national andsubregional action in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Thirty African countries arealready at work to establish national frameworks. An Asian regional meeting will takeplace in Beijing in May 1997. He noted continuing support for NGOs.

The Assistant Administrator and Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa, EllenJohnson Sirleaf, highlighted aspects of UNDP’s CCD-related support. UNDP coreresources allocated to support development in developing countries affected bydesertification amounted to over US$1 billion from 1992-1996. She urged the CCD focalpoints in affected countries to ensure that their governments give priority to the issues ofdrought and desertification and their obligations under the Convention, in the context ofthe UNDP sixth programming cycle. UNDP recently completed a study regarding debt-for-environment swaps. She noted the importance of defining the parameters of thepartnership building concept stressed in the Convention. She said the Global Mechanismshould be viewed as a flexible and dynamic instrument that can be used by the Parties toanticipate emerging and changing priorities. She reiterated UNDP’s readiness to serve ashost to the Global Mechanism, or any other hosting arrangement that may be decidedupon.

IFAD’s Assistant President, Economic Policy and Resource Strategy Department,Shigeaki Tomita, reviewed IFAD’s CCD-related activities. In the two years sinceadoption of the Convention, IFAD has committed more than US$600 million forinterventions in dryland areas around the world. He said IFAD has been supporting theestablishment of enabling frameworks at the local level and that investment in researchand technology transfer for the drylands has become an increasingly significant part ofIFAD operations. He said the Global Mechanism must go beyond a clearing housefunction to actively solicit and facilitate the participation of financing institutions and theprivate sector in implementing the Convention. He stated the IFAD Executive Board hastaken note of the possibility that IFAD might be called upon to consider a more detailedproposal from the INCD.

Tanzania, on behalf of the G-77 and CHINA, stated that the test of the partnershipestablished in the CCD lies in the mobilization of sufficient financial resources, provisionof new and additional funding and the transfer of ecologically sound technologies.Comparing the CCD to the conventions on biological diversity and climate change, hestated that the CCD should not be relegated to a second-class convention. Thus,establishing a global financial mechanism for the CCD, with interest and priority equal tothe GEF’s, will place the CCD on a par with the other two conventions, as well asprovide a first step towards taking adequate measures to combat desertification. He addedthat the Committee should receive the support of all member States, thus essentialbudgetary funds for the preparation of COP-1 should be provided to the InterimSecretariat.

The Netherlands, on behalf of the EU, along with Cyprus, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia,Slovenia and Iceland, were pleased that the Convention had entered into force as early as26 December 1996. The EU said that since this is the last session of the INCD, all thenecessary preparations for the implementation of the CCD should be made before the UNSpecial Session in June 1997. He also said that the Global Mechanism should promoteactions leading to the mobilization and channeling of resources.

On behalf of the International NGO Network on Desertification (RIOD), MichaelAngstreich, of the Norwegian Forum for Environment and Development, stressed thatpast efforts to mitigate desertification were negatively influenced by: the minimalallocation of resources by national governments to environmental programmes; a legacyof colonial legislation; the introduction of market economies through economic structuraladjustment programmes; and limited participation by local populations. The NationalAction Programmes are the key operational tools for concrete action. He pointed out thatpartnership building processes have not even started in many countries. He said that theGlobal Mechanism can ensure a result-oriented implementation of the CCD and referredto the proposal regarding the “crucial” paragraph 4 that the NGOs have submitted fordelegates to consider.

STATUS OF SIGNATURE AND RATIFICATION: Executive Secretary Diallonoted that Burundi and Argentina submitted their instruments of ratification on Monday,6 January, bringing the total number to 60. Diallo pointed out that in order for countriesto be able to participate as Parties to the Convention at COP-1, they have to submit theirinstruments of ratification by 29 June. Diallo also noted the balanced distribution ofratifications between developed and developing, as well as among developing counties.

IRAN, CHINA, PARAGUAY and GUINEA noted recent national action to ratify theConvention and indicated their instruments would be deposited soon. BRAZIL reportedits national process is underway to ratify the CCD. MAURITANIA called on developedcountries to express their support for affected countries by ratifying the CCD.


As the multimedia displays for the three countries bidding to host the PermanentSecretariat were put in place in the UN basement corridors, delegates noted that lobbyingfor the Secretariat location is heating up. Tuesday evening, Spain hosted a dinner forHeads of Delegations to further explain their offer of the city of Murcia. Germany (Bonn)will host a lunch Thursday, while Canada’s (Montral) lunch is planned for Monday ofthe second week. Although there are no expectations that additional resources will beplaced on the table, delegates expect questions such as the long-term commitment andpossible extension of the offers to be raised.


WORKING GROUP I: The Working Group is expected to meet during themorning and afternoon in Conference Room 1 to consider the Global Mechanism.

CONTACT GROUP: The Contact Group considering the location for thePermanent Secretariat will meet at 6:30 pm in Conference Room 9.