Report of main proceedings for 13 June 1994

5th Session of the the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the International Convention to Combat Desertification


On Monday morning, the Plenary heard statements from four ministersand addressed the programme of work and extra- budgetary funds.

MAURITANIA: Sghair Ould M'Bareck, Minister for Environmentand Rural Development, stressed the importance of resolving theoutstanding issues surrounding financial resources and mechanismsand the regional implementation annex for Africa. He referred tothe failure of the 1977 Plan of Action because of lack of funding.

CHAD: Mahamat Adoum Khalapoum, Minister for Agriculture andEnvironment, said that more than one-third of the territory of Chadis desertified. The CILSS is a model instrument for regionalcooperation. He supported the establishment of a financialmechanism specific to Africa and an independent secretariat withadequate resources.

MALI: Dr. Boubacar Sada Sy, Minister for Rural Developmentand Environment, supported increased NGO involvement at thegrassroots level. The case studies will help in the preparation ofnational action plans. He said that the success of the Conventionwill depend on financial resources and mechanisms, speedyratification and interim provisions.

KENYA: John K. Sambu, Minister for Environment and NaturalResources, and Minister Coordinator for IGADD, stressed theimportance of financial resources. The success of this Conventionwill determine the success of the Climate Change and BiodiversityConventions. Financial resources can be allocated through debtreduction, reduction of overhead costs and a change in consumptionpatterns.

PROGRAMME OF WORK: Kjell‚n announced that documentA/AC.241/15/Rev.4 was distributed this morning. The major issues tobe resolved are financial resources and mechanisms and someinstitutional and legal matters. Anne de Lattre reported thatnegotiations are complete on the Northern Mediterranean Annex andvirtually complete on the Latin American and Caribbean Annex (withthe exception of Article 7.2). Negotiations on the Asian Annexbegin in the afternoon.

EXTRA-BUDGETARY FUNDS: Executive-Secretary Arba Diallointroduced the documents on the status of extra-budgetary resourcesfor the voluntary and trust funds (A/AC.241/23 and Add.1). Thevoluntary fund has paid for representatives from 58 countries toattend INCD-5 at a cost of US$295,000. The following governmentsannounced new contributions: Australia (A$89,000 to the voluntaryfund); Senegal (US$2,000 to the Secretariat trust fund); and theRepublic of Korea (US$50,000 to the voluntary fund).


Discussions were based on the revised text of the Convention andannexes, A/AC.241/15/Rev.4. Although this was the last scheduledmeeting for the Group, numerous issues could not be resolved. TheChair pointed out that Articles 2 (purpose) and 5 (commitments andobligations of developed country Parties [and other Parties]) arestill unresolved, pending the decision on categories of countries.He also noted that Article 17 (Transfer, acquisition, adaptationand access to environmentally sound technology) had erroneouslybeen bracketed.

ARTICLE 13 -- CONTENT OF THE REGIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES:Australia reported that no agreement was reached on the outstandingissues in the contact group. Benin proposed compromise text for thechapeau: "The regional action programmes include, interalia, measures related to combatting desertification..."; andthe deletion of the words "as relevant" and "as necessary" insub-paragraphs (e) and (f) respectively. The EU plans to consult onthis.

ARTICLES 14 (FINANCIAL RESOURCES), 15 (FINANCIAL MECHANISMS) AND19 (FOLLOW-UP ARRANGEMENTS): These bracketed articles will bedeferred until the Johnson-Sonko group resolves related issues.

ARTICLE 16 -- TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE AND COOPERATION: Thecontact group chaired by Cameroon reported that it agreed to deletethe word "ensure" in the chapeau, necessitating a change in thewording in the sub-paragraphs. As a result, sub-paragraph (b) isstill contentious, due to "legal technicalities." The matter wasreferred back to the contact group.

ARTICLE 18 -- COORDINATION AND PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTS: Thecontact group, chaired by the US, resolved several issues.Paragraph 3, which has three proposed alternatives, is stillunresolved, due to the reference to the role of the secretariat.Since paragraph 4 is dependent on 3, it could not be discussed.Although there is a preference for "shall" to "may" in paragraph 5,the group is still considering whether the matter should be basedon the outcome of the legal contact group chaired by Fred Mallya.The EU was considering the legal implications of the proposal. Inparagraph 6, the Group agreed to use "developed country Parties"instead of "donor Parties."


Co-Chair Pierre-Marc Johnson announced that the Group would begina second reading of the paragraphs/articles on finance, ascontained in A/AC.241/15/Rev.4. He proposed beginning with Article21, followed by Article 20 and the other finance-relatedparagraphs. The Group would then examine the two financial articlesin the African Annex. However, by 6:00 pm the Group had onlydiscussed paragraph 1 of Article 21. They agreed that no progresscould be made on the African Annex articles until agreement wasreached on the main Convention.

ARTICLE 21 -- FINANCIAL MECHANISMS: After 16 interventionsin 45 minutes there was still no agreement on the chapeau ofparagraph 1. The G-77 and China thought that the first sentence ofthe chapeau should read: "The Conference of Parties shall seek tomaximize the availability of funding for affected developingcountry Parties, particularly those in Africa, to implement theConvention." The EU and other OECD countries preferred reference to"the Parties." The EU insisted that the COP will not have the timeto face all these tasks. Australia said the COP will not meet untilthe entry into force of the Convention. Therefore, by using thephrase "the Parties" there would not be a delay in funding.

In sub-paragraph (a) (funding pursuant to Articles 16-18), the G-77and China preferred to use the phrase "assure funding." The EU saidthat the COP cannot do this. Kenya and China said that thisparagraph deals with approaches and policies, not financing.

In sub-paragraph (b) (multiple-source funding approaches), the G-77and China proposed removing all the brackets.

In sub-paragraph (c) (provision of information on sources offunds), many delegates felt that agreement was in reach. Theyagreed that the sub-paragraph could read: "provide interestedParties and relevant intergovernmental and non-governmentalorganizations appropriate information on available sources of fundsand on funding patterns in order to facilitate coordination amongthem and mobilization of [additional] [necessary] resources;"Rather than try to reach agreement on the bracketed words, Johnsonsuggested that the Group move on.

In sub-paragraph (d) (establishment of mechanisms including trustfunds), Canada wanted to maintain reference to channeling financialresources to the local level. China had difficulties with fundsthat include the participation of NGOs. The G-77 still needed totake a final decision on the subject of trust funds.

In sub-paragraph (e) (mobilization of international fundingarrangements/mechanisms), the G-77 and China wanted to ensure thatthese funding arrangements are at the national, sub-regional andregional levels. France did not agree.

AFRICAN ANNEX: Amb. Mongbe, the Chair of the working groupon the African Annex, explained that Articles 14 (FinancialResources) and 15 (Financial Mechanisms) remain bracketed pendingthe outcome of the discussions on Articles 20 and 21 of the mainConvention. Thus, the articles were submitted to the finance group.


The Asian Group presented its draft regional implementation annex,A/AC.241/CRP.12, Monday afternoon.

ARTICLE 2 -- PARTICULAR CONDITIONS OF THE ASIAN REGION: Thisarticle was adopted with minor changes proposed by the Asian Group.

ARTICLE 3 -- FRAMEWORK FOR NATIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES:Paragraph 2 generated protracted discussion. The Article statesthat bilateral and multilateral cooperation agencies may beinvolved in the development of national action programmes. The EUproposed language from the Northern Mediterranean Annex, pointingout that specific mention should be made to a consultative process,including governments and NGOs. He argued that there should beuniformity between the annexes on certain fundamental issues, suchas the bottom-up approach. Syria proposed a reference to jointmanagement of shared resources and other transboundary issues.Malaysia proposed that language from the Latin American Annex beused. The Secretariat will produce draft language.

ARTICLE 4 -- NATIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES: India, on behalf ofthe Asian Group, tabled several amendments, including a referencein the chapeau to "affected country Parties and those experiencingdesertification and drought," as well as two new sub-paragraphs.The former was debated extensively. The US, Canada, Australia andother OECD countries argued that this reference would have theeffect of creating a new country category. The Philippines appealedfor its retention. While some Asian countries may not be "affected"in the sense of the definition set out in the Convention, theywould like to be able to take preventive action at the nationallevel and to consult with affected countries. The two additions toArticle 4 include a new sub-paragraph (g), which refers to thepromotion of the integrated management of drainage basins, theconservation of soil resources, and the augmentation and efficientuse of water resources. The new sub-paragraph (h) refers to thestrengthening of "information, evaluation and follow-up and earlywarning systems in regions prone to desertification, taking intoaccount climatological, meteorological, hydrological, biologicaland other relevant factors." But for the chapeau, the Article wasadopted with minor changes.

ARTICLES 5 -- SUBREGIONAL AND JOINT ACTION PROGRAMMES and 6 --REGIONAL ACTIVITIES were subject to the new proposals tabled bythe Asian Group.

ARTICLE 7 -- FINANCIAL RESOURCES AND MECHANISMS: Discussionof this Article was deferred, pending the outcome of the financialdiscussions.

ARTICLE 8 -- COOPERATION AND COORDINATION MECHANISMS: Indiapresented substantial changes. The new paragraph 1 refers toaffected country Parties and "those experiencing serious droughtand desertification." It also identifies the specific purposes tobe promoted by cooperation and coordination mechanisms. The newparagraph 2 refers to the bodies to whom affected country Partiesmay consult with, as well as the objectives of such consultation.The new paragraph 3, bracketed by the EU, refers to periodiccoordination meetings to be facilitated by the Secretariat. Theissue of "those experiencing serious drought and desertification"was the most contentious issue. Discussion on this, and all theoutstanding matters in the annex, was deferred to informalconsultations.


Given the lack of progress in the informal working group onfinance, the Bureau agreed that it was time to relegate thecontentious issues to a small contact group. The Chair asked theheads of the G-77/China and the OECD to choose approximately eightrepresentatives to attend the contact group meeting, which wasscheduled for 7:30-10:30 pm.


The contact group chaired by Takao Shibata (Japan) has beennegotiating a draft text on the interim arrangements for theimplementation of the African annex. The group is addressing threequestions: what national, regional or joint actions are necessary;when the process should start (most likely after the signing of theConvention and before the meeting of the COP); and what otherinternational organizations, developed country Parties, and NGOswould contribute.


PLENARY: There will be a brief meeting of the Plenary thismorning to hear a statement by the Minister for Energy of Sudan.Afterwards, the G-77 will meet for the rest of the morning. TheOECD group is scheduled to meet at 11:30 in Room 8. In theafternoon, the Plenary is expected to reconvene to appraise anddiscuss outstanding issues (other than finance) in the Convention.

INFORMAL WORKING GROUP ON THE AFRICAN REGIONAL IMPLEMENTATIONANNEX: The Group is to meet this afternoon on Articles 2, 5, 13and 16.

INFORMAL CONSULTATIONS ON THE OTHER REGIONAL IMPLEMENTATIONANNEXES: Although the informal working group on the LatinAmerican and Caribbean and Asian regional implementation annexeswill no longer meet, there will be ongoing consultations to resolvethe remaining outstanding issues in these texts.