Report of main proceedings for 21 September 1993

2nd Session of the the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the International Convention to Combat Desertification

WORKING GROUP I

CAPACITY BUILDING: All delegates supported the need toaddress capacity building and many stressed that capacity buildingis the cornerstone of the Convention. Finland and Belgium, onbehalf of the EC, suggested that due to the close linkages betweencapacity building and the next section on education and publicawareness, these sections be combined. In fact, many delegatesaddressed both of these sections in their interventions.

Some delegates, including Canada, suggested that capacity buildingshould be included in other sections of the document. Canada alsomentioned that the OECD is exploring how to increase theeffectiveness of capacity building. They will share the resultswhen available. Canada and the Russian Federation highlighted theneed for more effective utilization of existing institutions.Israel stated that capacity building should be enhanced by aninitial process of long-term interactive learning and study of theproblems, their causes, and the available and missing means forcapacity building. This process should be executed throughlong-term, mutual exchange of expertise. Israel expressed itswillingness to participate in these learning processes with allprospective partners.

Japan urged that capacity building measures should be regionallyand nationally relevant. Tanzania stated that paragraph 97 inA/AC.241/12 was counter-productive because new institutions must belocally based. Zimbabwe stated that capacity building should belocally driven, not donor driven. This point was echoed by Chinaand Benin who said that local communities must take over theirresources on a democratic basis. Burkina Faso identified women andyoung children as the key potential in local populations. Nigerpointed out that strengthening the capacity of local populationsincludes, in part, combatting illiteracy and sharing knowledge,assets and power. Niger also referred to the importance of youthand NGOs. He noted the "worrisome" phenomenon of NGO proliferationin the Sahelian region, especially among NGOs who have not proventheir effectiveness. Malaysia stated that special mention of theimportance of the participation of women was unnecessary since thispoint should be implicit. Many other delegates, however, statedthat specific reference should be given to women.

Lesotho, supported by Norway, stated that capacity building shouldbe carried out in conjunction with public awareness and education.Kenya highlighted the importance of promoting capacity building atthe primary, secondary and university levels. Sweden suggested thatnon-formal education should also be addressed, and that there is aneed to educate decision-makers.

Norway asked UNDP, within its Capacity 21 initiative, to prepare acomprehensive review of national level capacity and to identifywhere capacity will be needed to implement the Convention. Norwaydisagreed with Malaysia's refusal to incorporate any reference toSouth-South cooperation in the Convention. Armenia referred to theClimate Change and Biodiversity Conventions as useful models forcapacity-building regimes.

UNESCO stated that the Convention should ensure the improvement ofnational research structures. In many countries, institutionalproblems could be rectified by increased coordination andcooperation.

Bolivia highlighted the importance of an integrated approach innational training. He also stated that poverty eradication shouldbe one of the factors considered in this section since it is anessential pre-condition to capacity building. Sweden pointed outthat awareness raising must be carried out in those countries thatare not directly affected by desertification.

CONGAC (Cameroon), on behalf of the NGOs, stated that there is alack of political will in many African countries to ensure popularparticipation. The representative urged increased cooperationbetween governments and NGOs.

EDUCATION AND PUBLIC AWARENESS: Algeria supported Senegal'searlier call for an international training centre headquartered inAfrica. The centre would train scientific, technical and managementpersonnel and develop programmes for training institutions. Algeriaoffered to host this centre. Malaysia emphasized the need toaddress the sustainable management and use of natural resources andthe use of extension services. Tanzania called for sustained publicawareness measures. Ghana stated that a public awareness strategyshould use a network approach and begin with the aspirations of thepeople. Togo said public awareness should take into account localrealities and the need to address poverty that leads to migrationand refugees. Saudi Arabia said media-initiated public awarenessshould target peasants, women and children. As well, schoolcurricula should include issues on drought and desertification.World Vision International (Mali), on behalf of the NGOs, stressedthe importance of rural community education, community radiobroadcasting and primary education.

FINANCIAL RESOURCES AND MECHANISMS: In the afternoon,Working Group I focused on the divisive issue of financialresources and mechanisms. Mali, on behalf of the African Group,introduced its recommendations: existing mechanisms should beimproved qualitatively and quantitatively (including the need fordeveloped countries to fulfill their commitment to devote 0.7% GNPto development aid); the need for new resources (improvement of theGEF and the establishment of a special fund for combattingdesertification); and debt relief. Tanzania suggested that theseproposals (paragraph 104 of A/AC.241/12) should serve as the basisfor further negotiation.

Malaysia commented that if the spirit of Rio is adhered to, thereshould be strong international cooperation on financial resources.However, there is no evidence of such commitment. Some countrieshave even reduced their ODA. Sustainable development is "just hotair" if commitments are not implemented. Malaysia does not favorlinking the financial mechanism for this Convention to the GEF.

In a lengthy intervention, Egypt provided numerous statistics onthe amount of funds needed to combat desertification and how muchis currently available. He cited a number of lessons to be learnedfrom the attempts to mobilize funds for the 1977 Plan of Action.First, a special account was set up by the General Assembly andafter ten years it had only collected US$236,000. After that, aninternational consulting group (DESCON) was set up to mobilizeresources and after eight meetings it ceased to exist. Finally,UNEP conducted a study on how to finance the Plan of Action, butthe recommendations were never implemented. He suggested that theSecretariat provide delegates with a copy of this 1981 report thatis still valid today.

China, India and Morocco said that new and additional financialresources from developed countries are necessary. Brazil, Algeriaand Tanzania stated that many programmes and plans are unsuccessfulbecause of a lack of resources to implement them. Burkina Faso saidthat the problem in the past has been lack of coordination betweendonors and duplication of activities at the national level. The UKstated that there is no indication that resource flows areinsufficient. Belgium, on behalf of the EC, pointed out that lackof funds has not been the problem, rather scarce human resourcesand coordination of external resources has undermined programmesuccess.

China advocated using Articles 20 and 21 of the BiodiversityConvention, where each contracting party will seek to providefinancial support in accordance with its national plans, prioritiesand programmes, and developed country parties will provide new andadditional financial resources. Zambia added that financialresources should be mobilized from both the national andinternational levels. Mexico stated that political will is animportant part of mobilizing resources at the national and locallevels. The US, Canada and the EC supported paragraph 103(a)(ii),which suggests that the bulk of resources will come from theaffected countries.

Brazil, Malaysia, Morocco and Zambia supported the establishment ofa new fund for desertification (paragraph 103(a)(i)). The UKthought that the establishment of such a fund would, in effect,reduce the flow of external funding. The UK also supported the moregeneral formulations on financial mechanisms in paragraphs 104(d)and 106(a). Canada did not support the creation of a new fund.Argentina said that perhaps the GEF could be used during the periodbefore the Convention enters into force. It would be appropriatefor the Conference of Parties to establish the required fund.

Malaysia, Zambia and others urged the need for democratic andtransparent financial mechanisms.

China and India supported the use of a "package approach"(paragraph 102(b)) for financing the Convention, relying on apanoply of financial sources, resources and mechanisms.

The US and the UK pointed out that at this point, it is unclearwhat the financial requirements will be until the negotiatingprocess has advanced further and commitments are better defined.The UK stressed the need to consider what actions and activitiesare to be provided for by the Convention. This list should bespecific and directly related to the causes and prevention ofdesertification.

The US said that a three-step process will be necessary: what iscurrently being spent on desertification; what can be done moreefficiently or reoriented from existing programmes; and what is arealistic estimate of what is needed. The US and Canada commentedthat they may be able to increase bilateral aid. In the twocountries there is a general emphasis on the implementation ofenvironmental programmes; a renewed interest in regionalprogrammes; and an emphasis on public participation.

Canada suggested that all affected and donor countries shouldestimate the level of resources that can be devoted to combattingdesertification. Canada endorsed a number of paragraphs in theSecretariat's document, including 104(d) and (g). However, 104(c),mandating the contribution of 0.7% of GNP for ODA, goes beyond theRio Agreements and does not belong in this Convention. Financing ofConvention activities (paragraph 106) should be left to theConference of Parties.

IN THE CORRIDORS

The arrival on Monday of the Colombian delegate from New Yorkheightened expectations that the Group of 77 might meet. The G-77,within the INCD negotiations, had not met since early in the secondweek of the Nairobi session, at which point the Latin American andAsian groups called for all regional instruments to be concluded byJune 1994. Colombia had designated Brazil to lead the G-77 atseveral intergovernmental meetings, including the Geneva sessionsof the UN Commission on Human Rights and UNCTAD and the Nairobi andGeneva sessions of the INCD. Due to the perception by manydelegates that the Brazilian coordination of the G-77 in Nairobiwas unfair, some resisted this arrangement at the second session ofthe INCD. The problem in holding a G-77 meeting at the Genevasession was that Colombia, the coordinator of the G-77 for thisyear, was not present. Moreover, it was unclear, even to theleaders of the regional groups within the G-77, exactly whichcountry would act as coordinator in Colombia's absence. Severaldelegates mentioned that they had sent cables to their New Yorkmissions requesting Colombia's presence at this session.

The G-77 regional group Chairs met early Tuesday afternoon todiscuss the INCD Chair's draft decision and the issue ofcoordination for the G-77 session scheduled for 5:00 pm. Brazilopened the meeting and passed the chair to Colombia.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

PLENARY: This morning's informal meeting of the Plenary willfocus on the Chair's draft decision on the future work of the INCD.The regional groups have been meeting on this document and theheads of the regional groups were scheduled to meet with Amb.Kjell‚n Tuesday evening. Look for a lukewarm response from theWestern Europe and Others Group, which might have problems with thelack of specificity in the document regarding the type of regionalinstruments and the open-ended nature of negotiations proposed. TheG-77 will have a common position, based on the outcome of themeeting held Tuesday afternoon. The G-77 is expected to support theChair's text with some minor revisions.

WORKING GROUP I: Discussion on financial resources andmechanisms will continue this afternoon in Working Group I.Speakers will include Australia, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland,Germany, Tunisia, Spain, Nigeria, Niger, Kenya, Malawi, Benin,Senegal, Norway, Netherlands, Iran and Finland. The speakers' listfor this item has been closed. After completion of the discussionon financial resources and mechanisms, the Working Group willexamine the last item on its agenda: coordination and cooperation.

WORKING GROUP II: The group will have an informalbrainstorming session on regional instruments. Look for anannotated paper from the Secretariat to guide the discussions.Also, look for a decision on the choice between regional annexesand protocols.

Participants

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