Daily report for 21 January 1994
3rd Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the International Convention to Combat Desertification
WORKING GROUP I
The Chair announced that the English version of the Preamble andArticles 4-8 has been circulated and that the other languageversions will soon be available.
ARTICLE 16 -- COORDINATION IN THE ELABORATION AND IMPLEMENTATIONOF ACTION PROGRAMMES: Many delegates, including Benin, China,Korea and Brazil, felt that paragraph 1, on cooperation in thepreparation of action programmes, duplicated other articles andshould be deleted. Brazil noted that the term "assistance" shouldbe replaced with "coordination" in keeping with the Spirit of Rio.The US, supported by Finland, called for greater attention to theconcept of coordination in the text, especially as regardsevaluation and implementation.
ARTICLE 17 -- REGIONAL IMPLEMENTATION ANNEXES: This articlestates that guidelines for the preparation of action programmesshall be set out in the regional annexes. Norway, supported bySweden, wanted to postpone debate on this article until afterWorking Group II discusses the regional instrument for Africa. Asother delegations wanted to take the floor, the Chair allowed tenminutes for debate. Brazil suggested that the specific regionalannexes will have to be listed and he questioned what form theywill take. He also noted the need to focus on the means forcooperation. Germany suggested that the procedural issues raised byBrazil should be considered together with the substantivediscussion on regional annexes. Senegal said this Article shouldremain as is.
ARTICLE 21 -- CAPACITY BUILDING, EDUCATION AND PUBLICAWARENESS: Mali, supported by Niger, Kenya and Senegal,affirmed the importance of this article and noted that lack ofawareness on the part of individuals and communities is a realobstacle in combatting desertification. Mali proposed theestablishment of a network of regional education and trainingcentres. Finland, supported by Iran and Greece, suggestedstrengthening existing institutions rather than creating new ones.Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Sweden pointed to the uselessness of aninternational centre and supported Mali in the creation of anetwork of regional centres. Malaysia requested the reference to"Parties in a position to provide assistance" be changed to"developed countries." Saudi Arabia requested deletion ofsub-paragraph 1(e), which calls for the provision of training andtechnology in the use of alternative energy. China objected to thereference to partnerships with NGOs. This was opposed by BurkinaFaso and the Gambia.
ARTICLE 22 -- FINANCIAL RESOURCES: Most delegates stressedthe importance of this paragraph. There were no comments on thechapeau of paragraph 1, which stresses the importance of adequatefunding for achieving the objectives of this Convention, or thefirst two sub-paragraphs, which ensure the provision of financingand give priority to Africa.
Sub-Paragraph 1(c) calls for rationalizing and strengtheningresources already allocated for desertification and drought. Chinasuggested moving this to the article on national action programmes.
Sub-Paragraph 1(e) explores new methods of innovativefinancing, including taxes. Saudi Arabia said that taxes andtariffs will double the problems of the affected countries.
Sub-Paragraph 1(f) provides for equitable "burden-sharing"among countries providing assistance. Saudi Arabia and the US saidthis was unclear and should be bracketed.
Sub-Paragraph 1(g) ensures the replicability and internalsustainability of projects. China suggested moving this to thearticle on national action programmes.
Sub-Paragraph 1(h) is bracketed and calls for Partiesproviding financial assistance to be flexible in determining theutilization of their funds. Mali, supported by Gambia, Iran andSenegal, suggested deleting it as it reduces the level ofresponsibility given to national governments. Tanzania agreed sinceit does not promote the bottom-up approach. The US thought thissubject was adequately covered in Article 4 and could be deleted.
Paragraph 2 calls on affected countries to allocate asubstantial portion of their own financial resources to achievingthe objectives of this Convention. China suggested moving thisparagraph to the article on national action programmes. Greece, onbehalf of the EU, said that the establishment of national funds isnot consistent with the integration of activities. Jordan,supported by Saudi Arabia and Iran, said that developing countriescould not allocate a "substantial" portion of their own resources,but rather an "appropriate" portion.
Paragraph 3 addresses the availability of financialresources. Gambia requested that the brackets around the phrase"new and additional" be removed, since this phrase was accepted inAgenda 21. Iran agreed, suggesting removal of the brackets aroundthe term "concessional." Saudi Arabia said "Parties in a positionto provide assistance," should be deleted. Poland said that theterm "developed countries" should not be used, preferring "Partiesin a position to provide assistance." He added that Poland cannotprovide assistance on a "regular, timely, predictable andconcessional basis," as this paragraph states. The US alsoadvocated deleting this list of adjectives.
Paragraph 4 is bracketed and states that developed countryParties reaffirm their commitments to reach the accepted UN targetof 0.7% of GNP for ODA. Niger, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Senegal,Tanzania and the Central African Republic said that since thistarget was affirmed in Rio, the brackets should be removed. The EUwanted to retain the brackets as there was a proposal toincorporate this language into the preamble. The US commented thatit has not endorsed the ODA target and would prefer to see thisparagraph deleted.
ARTICLE 23 -- FINANCIAL MECHANISMS: There were no commentson paragraph 1, which states that Parties will make use of allavailable financing mechanisms.
Paragraph 2 recommends an inventory of sources and uses offunds. Iran suggested removing the brackets around the sentencethat establishes a clearing house on the types and methods ofassistance available. The US disagreed, but thought an inventory ofaid flows would be useful.
Paragraph 3: Mali, supported by Gambia, Tunisia, BurkinaFaso, Tanzania, Iran and the Central African Republic, agreed withthe establishment of a special fund, as called for by thisparagraph, since they are having difficulty obtaining access to theGEF for desertification activities. Lesotho added that not onlydoes a special fund have to be established but that sufficientcontributions must be ensured. The EU and the US preferred deletingthis paragraph.
Paragraph 4 calls for transparency and accountability in themanagement of this special fund. The EU and the US called for itsdeletion.
WORKING GROUP II
Document A/AC.241/L.15, "Definition of terms relating to theConvention," was circulated Friday morning. The document is basedon work done by the Expert Group and Secretariat as requested bydelegates during INCD-2. The Group then started discussion onArticle 27, the Evaluation and Monitoring Centre, as well asArticles 28 and 29 of Part V -- Procedures.
ARTICLE 27 -- EVALUATION AND MONITORING CENTRE: Like Article26 on the Scientific and Technological Council, this articlegenerated protracted debate. Canada circulated a proposed amendmentthat suggests the deletion of the entire article and assigns thearticle's technical monitoring functions to Article 26 and theadministrative function to Article 25, "Secretariat." The rationaleis to ensure the tasks are carried out while saving costs by usingexisting institutions. Greece, on behalf of the EU, Finland,Germany, Belgium, Japan and the US supported this view, adding thatArticle 24 also empowers the COP to establish any new institutionsit may deem necessary. Possible institutions to house theMonitoring Centre that were mentioned are UNEP, WMO, FAO, theGlobal Monitoring Centres in Africa, among others.
China proposed the establishment of a global network based on theproposal in Chapter 12 of Agenda 21, since most of the tasks aregrassroots oriented. The proposed institution would be called the"Research and Development Centre" and would concern itself withcoordination of the tasks outlined in Articles 18 to 21 thatinclude: information collection and analysis; research anddevelopment; education, training and capacity building; and thetransfer, acquisition, adaptation and development of technology.
Benin said that the African Group supported the establishment of anEvaluation and Monitoring Centre. The Centre should be aninternational body as opposed to one placed within an existinginstitution. He also expressed concern that some delegations hadbeen circulating text before orally presenting it.
Egypt supported the African proposal and outlined five functionsfor the Centre including: providing early warning against drought;innovation of technology transfer and adaptation; and evaluation ofprogress at all levels. He questioned the proposal to use existinginstitutions and explained that some of these, such as UNEP and WMOwere involved in "knowledge-analysis." What is needed is a"knowledge-making" institution. He also said the estimated annualcost of desertification is US$42.3 billion dollars while the incomefor 1977 from these regions was much less than that and added that17 years of experimenting with UNEP were enough. The Gambia saidthe creation of institutions must always be preceded by function,adding that the needs of the stakeholders were being overlooked.Botswana suggested the Centre be located in Africa while Mongoliafavored the Arabian Peninsula.
Israel said the Convention needed a permanent Centre for theproposed functions but this did not suggest a new physicalstructure. Existing infrastructures could be used and he suggestedthat the decision on the Centre be deferred.
ARTICLE 28 -- COMMUNICATION OF INFORMATION ON IMPLEMENTATION:
Paragraph 1 calls for Parties to report on their implementationmeasures. Sweden affirmed the importance of this Article as thebasis for follow-up to the Convention. She asked for furtherclarification on the types of reports required.
Paragraph 2 states that affected country Parties needingassistance shall provide descriptions of their action programmes.Brazil reiterated its concern with the term "countries needingassistance," preferring the term "developing countries" instead.
Paragraph 5 provides for the COP to arrange for theprovision of technical and financial support in informationcompilation and communication to Parties needing assistance.Sweden, supported by the UK, proposed deletion of the last sentenceas it left out reference to countries in a position to provideassistance, NGOs and IGOs.
ARTICLE 29 --MEASURES TO PREVENT DISPUTES: This articleprovides for the COP to resolve differences amicably. Discussioncentered on specific wording changes with delegates debating whichmodel should be used. The article was left in brackets.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
PLENARY: The Plenary will meet this morning to review thesituation as regards extrabudgetary funds. The report on both thevoluntary fund to support the participation of developing countriesaffected by drought and desertification and the trust fund for thenegotiating process is contained in document A/AC.241/16. ThePlenary is also expected to hear progress reports from the Chairsof the two working groups.
WORKING GROUP I: Discussion will continue today on Article22, Financial Resources, and Article 23, Financial Mechanisms. Anumber of speakers are already on the list, including Morocco,Uganda, Kazahkstan, Cameroon, Egypt, Japan and Norway. If timepermits, the Working Group will then return to the Preamble andconsider the revised text distributed by the Secretariat on Friday.Look for the Chair, Ahmed Djoghlaf, to make his first appearance onthe rostrum today.
WORKING GROUP II: Discussions are expected to continue todayon the remaining procedural articles (30-42). To assist delegatesin their second reading this week, the Secretariat circulated theamended texts on Articles 1 (Definitions), 18 (Informationcollection, analysis and exchange), 19 (Research and Development)and 20 (Transfer, acquisition, adaptation and development oftechnology). The amendments to the other articles will becirculated by Tuesday.