Report of main proceedings for 12 September 1996

9th Session of the the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the International Convention to Combat Desertification

Delegates to INCD-9 met in working groups in the morning and in Plenary in theafternoon, where they heard approximately 21 statements regarding interim activities ondesertification in Asia, Latin America and the Northern Mediterranean. Working Group Ialso met in the evening to adopt their draft decisions.

PLENARY

Executive Secretary Diallo reviewed the issues raised during Wednesday’s discussion onurgent measures for Africa. Some delegates raised problems they had encountered.Questions were raised on whether difficulties were due to lack of information or lack ofaccess to information. He recalled Germany’s suggestion that developed countries prepareinformation for their administrations and public.

INTERIM ACTION IN ASIA: CHINA’s national actions include enhancing therole of governmental organizations in coordinating policies related to drought andtraining local policy makers to better understand CCD-related policies. Ms. Niu Yuqin,NGO representative of the China Desert Reclamation Association, discussed efforts tofight desertification in her village, for which she has been awarded the national labor heroaward.

ARMENIA has introduced bills on environmental, vegetation and wildlife protection tocreate a system to protect natural resources. Armenia will look at atomic energy becauseit is the most acceptable of traditional energy resources. AFGHANISTAN reviewed thetopographical and climatic characteristics of his country. Due to landmines and damagedbridges, a small area of rangeland is used for grazing. He called on UNDP, FAO andother agencies to help Afghanistan’s efforts.

IRAN elaborated on eight activities the country has initiated to implement the CCD,including involving women and youth. He stated that the Asian regional network,DESCONAP, can be the main mechanism through which the regional Annex can beimplemented.

RUSSIA stated that although it has not yet ratified the CCD, it has undertaken variousinitiatives to implement the CCD. Russia hopes to bring together the administrative headsof the countries in the region to develop a plan of action to combat desertification.

India, on behalf of the ASIAN region, reported on the regional meeting held in August inIndia, at which several resolutions were reached, including the need to: have institutionalarrangements and the involvement of all relevant government actors; and establishregional institutional networks that are coordinated by a national institution that could actas focal points for the NAP.

BANGLADESH emphasized two points that are central to the fight against drought anddesertification: eradication of poverty and people’s participation. JORDAN’s efforts inaffected areas include land rehabilitation and the development of a land inventory. Jordanis cooperating with its neighbors, including Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Syria.YEMEN is helping local sectors and NGOs take part in the struggle againstdesertification. He expressed hope that considerable outside support would be available tohelp develop the national programme and support its implementation. ISRAEL notedjoint initiatives with several Middle East countries. Negotiations with Germany areexpected to conclude soon, resulting in a new academic programme offering a mastersdegree in desert sciences.

MYANMAR is planning an awareness raising seminar. He stated that desertification is abarrier to sustainable food security and that land use patterns should be madeenvironmentally sound. NEPAL has tried to include local people in all activities. Hehoped the GM would mobilize substantial resources, and that the least developedcountries would receive special attention. Executive Secretary Diallo noted that the bulkof bilateral funding for activities in Asia has come from Switzerland, Japan and theNetherlands.

INTERIM MEASURES IN LATIN AMERICA: CUBA has created an advisorybody to elaborate the national programme and has special programmes for territories inaffected areas. URUGUAY described its drylands situation emphasizing the socio-economic dimensions. CHILE has carried out two pilot studies, organized awarenessraising activities, and initiated regional cooperation on research. BRAZIL highlighted: thecreation of a NAP; the establishment of the national information network, “Redesert”;and the regional development of indicators and benchmarks.

In PERU a third NAP has been completed and a political decision has been made toinclude NGOs as much as possible in decision-making on drylands problems. BOLIVIAhas officially adopted its NAP and held awareness days involving the media and localcommunities. MEXICO has organized national workshops to develop state plans tocombat desertification, is sponsoring a national reforestation programme, and iscooperating with Brazil to assist Haiti to combat desertification. Spain, on behalf of theANNEX IV COUNTRIES (Northern Mediterranean), elaborated on their cooperation. Aregional reflection group was created in the interim period, national focal points wereidentified, and contacts between organizations were established. SPAIN emphasized itsown commitment to the CCD process and implementation, through participation inregional meetings and funding to activities in Latin America and Africa.

WORKING GROUP I

The Group convened briefly in the morning and heard a statement from INCD Chair BoKjelln and then adjourned to enable the informal, open-ended contact group to continuenegotiating the Global Mechanism’s fourth function on mobilization and channelling offinancial resources. Kjelln stated three reasons for satisfaction with this INCD session:the CCD’s entry into force is only five ratifications away; the additional activities, such asthe Panel, indicate the vitality of the CCD; and progress has been made laying thegroundwork for action to be taken at the next session.

The Group re-convened at 5:30 pm for three hours and completed consideration of theGlobal Mechanism, administrative arrangements for the Permanent Secretariat andfinancial rules.

GLOBAL MECHANISM: In spite of the day-long informal negotiations, nosolution was reached on the text for paragraph 4, promoting actions to mobilize andchannel financial resources.

When the meeting started in the late afternoon there seemed to be consensus on text thatincorporated both the wishes of the OECD group of countries and the G-77 and China.The proposed text had all the functions in the Secretariat’s text, with minor amendments,preceded by chapeaux that would make the function facilitative in nature, except for theparagraph stating “to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of existing financialresources....” However, this lack of a chapeau was unacceptable to the OECD group ofcountries. Consequently, it was agreed that the Secretariat’s text, the new versionintroduced Thursday evening, and the text submitted by the OECD group of countries (onMonday) should become subparagraphs (e), (e)(bis) and (e)(ter) respectively. All threewill be bracketed. The G-77 and China insisted that the document is a package so it isentirely bracketed.

A procedural decision was adopted that: transmits the document to INCD-10; requestsIFAD and UNDP to submit their updated offers to the Secretariat by 21 October 1996;invites delegates to submit to the Secretariat written comments to the updated offers; andto consider the selection of the GM at INCD-10.

FINANCIAL RULES: Delegates then considered the draft decision to transmitthe financial rules (A/AC.241/45/Rev.2) to INCD-10. The decision noted that Rule 23(decision procedures) remained bracketed along with the name of the relevant institution.Austria said he and others in the OECD had understood that Rule 23 would be deleted. Ifit were not he had some minor amendments to introduce. The Chair said he would tell thePlenary that Rule 23 should be deleted.

ADMINISTRATIVE ARRANGEMENTS: Greece, on behalf of the OECDgroup of countries, proposed text for the draft decision on the designation of a PermanentSecretariat and arrangements for its functioning, calling on the UN Secretary-General andUNEP to answer questions posed by INCD members, for consideration at INCD-10.Delegates agreed.

WORKING GROUP II

Chair Shibata (Japan) introduced five draft decisions proposed for adoption by thePlenary. The first, draft decision for submission to the COP on procedures forcommunication of information and review of implementation, was adopted withoutamendments.

During discussion of the second draft decision (draft rules of procedures of the COP)Spain noted that a suggested amendment in Rule 22 in A/AC.241/48/Rev.1, which wasdiscussed at INCD-8, had not been taken note of. He insisted that the draft decisioninclude the language, within brackets. The amendment, regarding adequate representationof “Annex” affected country Parties, was supported by Portugal, Turkey and Greece, andrelates to similar text in Rule 31 on the election of officers to subsidiary bodies. TheChair said that note would be incorporated. The draft decision was adopted with minorchanges.

In the third draft decision (report on work being done on benchmarks and indicators tomeasure progress in the implementation of the Convention) subparagraph (b) wasamended by Benin, on behalf of the G-77 and China, to read: “to establish under itsauthority an informal open-ended...regional and/or sub-regional groups...and non-governmental organizations referred to....” The decision was adopted.

Under the fourth draft decision (organization of scientific and technological cooperation)Spain again asked to include, in paragraph 6 in A/AC.241/57, text noting that the Vice-Chairpersons should be elected from an “Annex” affected country Party. After somedebate, delegates replaced the draft decision with the text from the negotiated document(A/AC.241/57, page 2).

In the fifth draft decision (program of work for the Committee on Science andTechnology), in subparagraph (c), delegates decided to delete language so that the firsttwo lines would read: “Requests the interim secretariat to identify bodies of other relevantorganizations.”

IN THE CORRIDORS

The Thursday morning statement of the Chair of Working Group I that we are revisitingthe last night of negotiations of the Convention in Paris (June 1994) was echoed by manydelegates. The repeated adjournments of the Group on Wednesday and Thursday forinformal negotiations, numerous new drafts that emerged after short breaks, and shuttlediplomacy between the contact and regional groups left many frustrated. As one delegatesaid, “this animal called the Global Mechanism will haunt us forever.” Some delegatessaid one reason consensus could not be reached was the lack of direct contact between theregional and interest groups, who were informally exchanging text after negotiatingwithin their group instead of sitting around the table to negotiate and draft consensus text.Others noted that although the text presented at 5:30 pm might please both sides, it madeno grammatical sense.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

PLENARY: The Plenary will meet at 10:00 am in Conference Room 2, with theaim of adjourning by 1:00 pm. Arrangements have been made to meet again at 2:30 pm, ifnecessary.

Participants

Negotiating blocs
Group of 77 and China
Non-state coalitions
NGOs

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