Daily report for 25 May 1993

1st Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the International Convention to Combat Desertification


UNEP: Dr. Norberto Fernandez gave his presentation at the end of theday on Monday and Tuesday morning's session started with this discussion. Anumber of countries, including Mali, Tunisia and C“te d'Ivoire, mentioned the lackof funds, training and technology available in developing countries for thepurchase and analysis of satellite imagery. The US stated that data is free if the country possesses a ground receiving station. The World Bank commented thatone of the major problems with satellite information in Africa is the lack ofon-site receiving stations. The US responded that there are receiving stationsin Niger and Ethiopia. Egypt added that there was a need for a system of global monitoring of desertification.


UNEP: Dr. Norberto Fernandez gave his presentation at the end of theday on Monday and Tuesday morning's session started with this discussion. Anumber of countries, including Mali, Tunisia and C“te d'Ivoire, mentioned the lackof funds, training and technology available in developing countries for thepurchase and analysis of satellite imagery. The US stated that data is free if thecountry possesses a ground receiving station. The World Bank commented thatone of the major problems with satellite information in Africa is the lack ofon-site receiving stations. The US responded that there are receiving stationsin Niger and Ethiopia. Egypt added that there was a need for a system of globalmonitoring of desertification.


Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO): Wim G. Sombroek, Director ofFAO's Land and Water Development Division, gave a historical background of theterm "desertification," identifying bio-climatic aridity based on evaporation andevapo-transpiration, as well as length of growing periods. He then identified arid,hyper-arid, semi-arid and humid areas, and cited the components of landdegradation that encompass the degradation of human settlements andinfrastructure. He spoke about a study carried out by FAO, the Global Assessmentof Soil Degradation (GLASOD), which was aimed at generating factual informationon the severity of land degradation. He described two types of degradation:degraded land that can be rehabilitated through the reduction of resource use,and destruction that is barely recoverable and can only be redeemed throughstructural changes.

El Hadji M. Sene of the Forest Resource Division then addressed rangelanddegradation and cited its main causes. He emphasized that rehabilitation of suchlands requires sound ecological and integrated management of natural resources,supported by adapted technology, economic planning, legal and financialmeasures, as well as improved institutions. He also underlined the role of thepeople's participation in these programmes. He elaborated on initiatives that FAOis undertaking in the rehabilitation of degraded woodlands. He concluded thatcombatting desertification requires a holistic approach that includes agriculture,efficient use of land and its natural resources, political will, regional andinternational conventions, appropriate legislation, and proper education. In thediscussion, the delegates raised the following issues: land tenure systems; landrights; disappearing species; the role of bush-fires in rangeland degradation;effects of towns, factories and industrial growth in land degradation; and theimportance of local communities in the planning for micro-activities.

HABITAT: Jochen Eigen, Coordinator of the Sustainable Cities Programme,and Graham Alabaster, Human Settlements Officer, spoke on land degradationresulting from urbanization, industrialization, mining and tourism. The focus ofthis presentation was on the need to accommodate population growth throughsustainable urbanization and reduce environmental degradation. He pointed outthat urbanization accommodates population growth; environmental degradation canlimit the benefits of urbanization; land degradation is one environmental concernassociated with urbanization; and strengthening urban management capacity helpscombat desertification. Attempts to manage population growth and migration havenot been effective and HABITAT is now focussing on urban management. He alsopointed out the cross-cutting nature of urban environmental issues; the need forany urban management strategies to involve those whose interests are affected,including women; and the need to involve and strengthen the public, private andcommunity sectors. He explained how HABITAT's Sustainable Cities programme canbe put to use to combat desertification.

In the discussion that followed, Egypt mentioned the need to utilize open spaceto accommodate human settlements without competing with agricultural land. Hementioned the development of new settlements for retired people in the US stateof Arizona. Senegal mentioned the need to address the impact of ruraldevelopment. Benin stated that the effect of spontaneous population growth onland degradation and urbanization has been overlooked.


International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD): Nessim Ahmad, aresource economist at IFAD, outlined a number of socio-economic processes thatlead to unsustainable agriculture and poverty in dryland areas. He listedcontributing international processes including: declining commodity prices;barriers to international trade; declining official development assistance; and thelack of adequate transfer of technology. At the national level, policy frameworksoften hinder sustainable dryland development. These policies include: structuraladjustment programmes; inappropriate sectoral agricultural pricing policies; a biastoward export crops; and social policies, such as the settlement of nomadicpopulations. A third set of processes are those related to institutional issues,including: the nature of land tenure regimes, the lack of rural financial servicesand credit, technology systems, infrastructure and supply channels, markets, andeducational, health and other services. Other processes that have a negativeimpact include: gender and ethnic biases, demographic processes (particularlypopulation growth and migration processes), and external shock.

To deal with the processes listed above, traditional coping strategies include:risk-minimizing strategies (adjustments to production and resource use beforeand during a production season) and loss-management strategies (responses tolower-than-expected crop production caused by natural hazards). Trends incoping strategies have shown: 1) risk minimizing agricultural strategies arenarrowing; 2) strategies that relied on social support and reciprocity forovercoming food deficits are eroding due to recurrent droughts; and 3) theresponsibility has moved from the local community to the national government andNGOs, through food relief programmes.

In the discussion that followed, Mali said that drought and desertification are notsocio-economic problems but socio-ecological problems. He argued that thepresentation speaks too much of the virtues of structural adjustment programmes,saying that developing states are told to open their markets while developedcountries protect their markets. Brazil brought up the impact of structuraladjustment programmes and world trading patterns on dryland producers. Swedenadvocated broadening horizons beyond the drylands to include radical ideas fordryland development, suggesting that drylands may be a major generator of solarenergy. Ghana mentioned useful traditional values that have preserved drylands.Iran stressed the need to focus on poverty eradication in the Convention andMadagascar mentioned the role of women in addressing problems ofdesertification.

World Bank: Hassan M. Hassan, Senior Environment Specialist, presenteda paper on behalf of John English that was based on the Bank's experiences.Using examples drawn from Machakos, Kenya, the Kano Close Settled Zone inNigeria, and cotton production in West Africa, he demonstrated the adaptation ofagricultural systems to accommodate population growth and effectiveproduction-oriented programmes. He noted that the primary problem in tacklingland degradation is the marginalization of these areas in relation to others in thecountry. The remedy is to link development programmes in these regions to themain centers of economic activity. This would also involve providing incentivesto farmers, such as guaranteed long-term benefits for their products, anddiversifying economic activities. However, he pointed out that land rights werenot a significant factor in the adoption of new programmes. He proposed policyelements including: the raising of the value of farm products; economically andtechnically viable land use programmes; diversified farming approaches; farmingmethods derived from farmer-to-farmer visits; diversification of income sources;and seasonal or permanent out-migratory practices. He emphasized the need forinformation and research and the need to develop cross-boundary solutions.

In the discussion, France asked the meaning of "marginal areas." He pointed outthat emphasis on farm products, based on the Bank's proposal to guaranteeincome, could undermine national policies and financial institutions. Benin arguedthat the production of cotton not only requires high farm inputs but alsoaccelerates land degradation when forest areas are cleared. Burkina Faso pointedout that seasonal and permanent migrations are radical solutions with adverseeffects as they disrupt habitats. The Chair pointed out that the views expressedin this paper were not those of the World Bank.

UNSO: Moustapha Soumar‚, technical advisor to UNSO, spoke on the roleof planning systems and instruments, integration of desertification controlprogrammes in development plans in the Sudano-Sahelian Region. He noted paststrategies in combatting desertification and explained how these experiencescompelled planners to integrate anti-desertification plans into overall developmentprogrammes. He stated the challenges as: poverty, marginalization of populations,irregular rainfall, increasing vulnerability of production systems, the fragility ofresources, and administrative weaknesses. He cited the reasons for planningproblems in the region, including: lack of political commitment to economicplanning, weaknesses of planning structures, and management capacity.Decentralization of planning and the broader participation of populationsconcerned must form the new paradigm. He spoke about UNSO's efforts towardgreater harmonization of planning methods and agreements for a single strategicframework for each country, the role of other agencies in supporting thisframework, and the need for preliminary consultations in countries without aframework. He stated that the planning process must include development of localtechnical capacity. Furthermore, there is a need for reforms in both land tenureand modalities for utilizing natural resources. Planning coordination can beimproved through decentralization, regionalization of plans, privatization incertain development sectors, donor harmonization, and intensification ofmonitoring. He concluded by emphasizing that the development of the people'scapacity to plan, negotiate and take decisions should serve as the guide for thedefinition of incentives to combat desertification. Discussion on this presentationwill begin on Wednesday morning.


PLENARY: The first item of business for the Plenary should be there-opening of Agenda Item 1 to address the accreditation of NGOs. It is notexpected that there will be any problems and the list of NGOs (A/AC.241/9 andAdd.1) should be easily adopted.

The Plenary will then discuss the presentation by Moustapha Soumar‚ of UNSO.The next speaker will be Dr. Marilyn Yakowitz, Special Advisor to OECD, followedby three interventions from NGO representatives: Juan Palao Iturregui, ConsejoAndino de Manejo Ecolgico; Vanaja Ramprasad, Third World Network; andMamadou Lamine Thiam, FAVDO.

Following the NGO interventions, the Plenary will move to the fifth part of theinformation sharing segment, "Experience with international, regional, sub-regionaland national programs to combat desertification and mitigate drought indeveloping countries." The first speaker will be from the Office of Environmentand Land Management of the Southern Africa Development Conference (SADC). Twopresentations will follow from the Sudano-Sahelian region: Maina Karaba, Officerin Charge of Environment at the Inter-Governmental Authority on Drought andDevelopment (IGADD); and Fatou Ba, Senior Economist of the Permanent InterstateCommittee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS). Given time, there will be apresentation by Tlili Mustafa, Counsel to the Secretary-General of theArab-Maghreb Union (UMA).

IN THE BREEZEWAYS: The Chair has circulated a draft non-paper throughthe Bureau to the regional groups elaborating the mandate of the two workinggroups. Following Amb. Kjell‚n's announcement yesterday morning, look for thisdocument to appear as a CRP (Conference Room Paper) sometime today. TheChair's text may propose that the working groups follow the Climate Changenegotiations model. In those negotiations, one working group dealt with legal andinstitutional issues, while the other working group negotiated the remainder ofthe convention, including the preamble, principles and objectives. One issue yetto be resolved is whether there should be a separate protocol for Africa. Thetalk in the corridors seems to indicate that the Africans do not have a commonposition on the issue of a regional protocol. The problem appears to be the statusof the protocol and the difficulty in negotiating a protocol at the same time asthe convention itself. Since the INCD must reach agreement on this issue beforethe end of the session, look for many delegates to discuss this in the breezewaysover the next several days in anticipation of the Plenary discussion next week.


National governments
Negotiating blocs
African Union
Non-state coalitions