Summary report, 3–13 September 1996
9th Session of the the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee of the International Convention to Combat Desertification
The Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for the Convention to CombatDesertification (INCD) met for its ninth session at UN Headquarters in New York, from3-13 September 1996. The INCD is currently functioning during the interim periodbetween the conclusion of the Convention and its entry into force, and is preparing for thefirst Conference of the Parties (COP-1).
During the session, delegates reviewed the status of ratification, the situation as regardsextrabudgetary funds, and the implementation of the resolution on Urgent Action forAfrica, as well as interim measures in other regions. The working groups continued toprepare for COP-1, which is expected to be held in September or October 1997. In theworking groups, delegates addressed outstanding issues related to arrangements regardingthe Global Mechanism, the designation of a Permanent Secretariat, scientific andtechnical cooperation, rules of procedure, financial rules, and communication ofinformation. Delegates’ general impression was that good progress was made, especiallyconcerning scientific and technological cooperation, even though several of the mostimportant, primarily financial, issues remain unresolved.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE INCD
Desertification affects about one-sixth of the world’s population, 70 percent of alldrylands and one-quarter of the total land area in the world. The most obvious impacts ofdesertification are: poverty; the degradation of 3.3 billion hectares of the total area ofrangeland; a decline in soil fertility and soil structure; and the degradation of irrigatedcropland.
The Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD) was formally adopted on 17 June1994, and opened for signature at a ceremony in Paris on 14-15 October 1994. TheConvention takes an innovative approach in recognizing: the physical, biological andsocioeconomic aspects of desertification; the importance of redirecting technologytransfer so that it is demand driven; and the involvement of local populations in thedevelopment of national action programmes. The core is the national and subregional/regional action programmes, to be developed by national governments in cooperationwith donors, local populations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). To date, theConvention has 115 signatories and has been ratified by 47 countries. It will enter intoforce 90 days after receipt of the 50th ratification.
NEGOTIATION OF THE CONVENTION
During its 47th session in 1992, the UN General Assembly, as requested by the UnitedNations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), adopted resolution47/188 calling for the establishment of the INCD. At the organizational session of theINCD in January 1993, delegates elected Bo Kjelln (Sweden) Chair of the Committee.The first session was held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 24 May to 3 June 1993. The firstweek focused on sharing technical information and assessments, and the second weekdealt with the structure, elements and objectives of the Convention.
The second session of the INCD met in Geneva from 13-24 September 1993. TheCommittee considered the compilation text of the CCD and agreed on the futureprogramme of work, including the elaboration of regional instruments for Africa, Asiaand Latin America. The third session of the INCD was held at UN Headquarters in NewYork from 17-28 January 1994. The two working groups focused on the draft negotiatingtext of the Convention. The INCD also discussed the regional instrument for Africa.
At the fourth session, which took place in Geneva from 21-31 March 1994, negotiationsof the draft Convention continued and delegates also formally considered the RegionalImplementation Annex for Africa. The Asian and Latin American regional groupsproduced their own draft regional implementation annexes. When the fifth session of theINCD met in Paris from 6-17 June 1994, delegates worked through the remainingbracketed text in the Convention and finalized four regional implementation annexes forAfrica, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Northern Mediterranean. TheConvention was adopted on 17 June 1994, along with resolutions recommending urgentaction for Africa and interim arrangements for the period between adoption of the CCDand its entry into force. The Convention was opened for signature at a ceremony in Parisfrom 14-15 October 1994.
The sixth session of the INCD was held in New York from 9-18 January 1995. TheCommittee reached agreement on its work programme for the interim period and themandates of the two working groups and plenary.
Delegates at the seventh session, which took place in Nairobi from 7-17 August 1995,reviewed the status of ratification and implementation of the Resolution on Urgent Actionfor Africa and Interim Measures. The Committee discussed and provided input on thestructure and elements that should be considered in preparation for COP-1.
The eighth session, held from 5-15 February 1996 in Geneva, reviewed the status ofratifications and the implementation of the Resolution on Urgent Action for Africa andInterim Measures. The Committee also discussed and began negotiations on some of theSecretariat’s texts on the preparations for COP-1. Delegates requested the Secretariat toprepare new text for negotiation at INCD-9, based on their discussions on the Committeeon Science and Technology, communication and information, draft rules of procedure forthe COP, draft financial rules, the Global Mechanism and arrangements to house thePermanent Secretariat and, for INCD-10, programme and budget. Some delegationsrevisited the question raised at INCD-7 on whether there was a need for two-weeksessions of the Committee in the future.
REPORT OF THE NINTH SESSION
Tuesday, 3 September 1996, marked the beginning of the ninth session of theCommittee. The purpose of this nine-day session was to continue preparations for the firstConference of the Parties, which is tentatively scheduled to take place in late 1997.During the session additional NGOs were accredited (A/AC.241/9/Add.12) and threeBureau members were added to replace members who were unable to attend the INCD.Anatolii Ovchinnikov (Uzbekistan) was appointed Rapporteur of the Committee, AlockJain (India) was elected to the Bureau, and Samvel Baloyan (Armenia) was elected Vice-Chair of Working Group II. A panel on women and desertification was held during thesecond week of the session, with presentations from NGOs regarding women and accessto credit, land tenure and awareness raising.
INCD Chair Bo Kjelln (Sweden) introduced the agenda and programme of work, ascontained in document A/AC.241/53, and proposed a re-organization of the work for thefirst Plenary. His changes and the agenda were adopted. In his opening statement, Kjellnannounced that 41 ratifications have been received and, thus, the goal to have COP-1 bySeptember 1997 is within reach. He hoped that during the World Solar and FoodSummits and the 1997 Special Session of the General Assembly, the link between theCCD and energy, food security and poverty alleviation, and water resources, respectively,would be recognized. The Chair stated that although the Global Mechanism (GM) is themost difficult and complicated issue, discussions at the last CSD regarding innovativefundraising mechanisms illustrated that the idea of a GM is timely. Delegates then heardseveral statements from national ministers, representatives of regional groups and headsof UN agencies.
Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and SustainableDevelopment, noted that CCD is one of the first conventions to encompass the integratedapproach of Agenda 21. He noted the prospect of 50 ratifications by the fifthanniversary of UNCED.
MONGOLIA said the country’s new democratic government is willing to take serioussteps to ensure the maintenance of an ecological balance. HONDURAS, on behalf of theLatin American and Caribbean Group, stated that the Convention is promising, but is apackage of dreams. His country supports CCD and hopes to ratify it this year.
MEXICO noted that his was the first country to sign and ratify the CCD. He provided theresults of a regional meeting, including the establishment of a regional coordinating unitin the Convention Secretariat at UNEP that will receive financial support from Mexico.The CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC outlined various initiatives it has undertaken tocombat desertification, including raising awareness among parliamentarians.
UNEP Executive Director Elizabeth Dowdeswell expressed UNEP’s interest in hostingthe Permanent Secretariat and outlined UNEP’s past activities, history and role thatrender it suitable. She said UNEP is willing to support the work of the Committee onScience and Technology and to collaborate with the institution that hosts the GM.
UNDP considers the CCD one of the most significant post-Rio frameworks foroperationalizing the goals of sustainable development. Availability and access to data onresource mechanisms is critical to implementation. He noted UNDP’s efforts to supportthe objectives of the CCD, including a trust fund to combat desertification and drought.He reconfirmed UNDP’s availability to host the GM.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) reported on a forum onaction plans held in June, where participants recognized the possibility of acceleratinglearning programmes and the desirability of including rural area development on theCommittee on Science and Technology. The GM must go beyond a clearinghouse roleand should harness resources not currently available for the drylands. IFAD is willing tohost the GM and could provide a detailed proposal at INCD-10.
CANADA outlined its four priority areas for development assistance, including theenvironment. Ireland, on behalf of the EUROPEAN UNION (EU), emphasized the urgentneed to determine the functions of the GM because this determines how COP-1 selectsthe institution to house the GM. CHAD outlined steps taken towards the implementationof the CCD, including the setting up of a high-level committee.
The Executive Secretary of the Committee, Hama Arba Diallo, noted the ItalianGovernment’s offer to host COP-1. He also highlighted activities that have been carriedout recently, including efforts in African countries and regional meetings. ITALYconfirmed its offer to host COP-1 in Rome.
URGENT ACTION FOR AFRICA AND ACTION TAKEN IN OTHER REGIONS
The discussion on the resolution on urgent action for Africa and interim measures wasoriginally intended to be conducted during two Plenaries. Three full meetings plus part ofa fourth were necessary to accommodate the large number of speakers. Nevertheless, thiswas still half the time it has taken to discuss the same subject at past sessions. Countrydelegates and representatives from international organizations discussed, in turn, actionstaken since INCD-8 in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Northern Mediterraneanregion. With a few exceptions, speakers observed the five-minute time limit given, whichenabled over 60 delegates to make presentations. Several delegates circulatedsupplementary information on their activities. INCD Chair Bo Kjelln noted that noformal decision would result from the deliberations, but a Chair’s summary would beincluded as an annex to the report of the session.
URGENT ACTION FOR AFRICA: African countries focused on nationalactivities. Madagascar, South Africa, Morocco and Djibouti reported on their progress inratifying the CCD. Mali, Ghana, Mauritania and Senegal are putting in place structures tofacilitate participation of affected populations in decision-making. National awarenessraising, including using media, workshops and meetings, is taking place in Malawi,Swaziland, the Gambia, Ethiopia, Namibia, Benin and the Central African Republic.Others, including Niger, Eritrea, Egypt, Algeria and Sudan reported on policy changes inspecific sectors, which would enhance the process of combating desertification andpreparation of national action plans (NAPs).
Tunisia announced that in response to Article 19 of the CCD, it has established aninternational centre for environment and technology to undertake various activities suchas promoting the transfer, acquisition and adaptation of new technologies. Egypt looksforward to the ratification of the CCD by the US, Japan, France and the UK. Chinareported on the August Asia-Africa forum where triangular cooperation (cooperationbetween a developed country and South-South partners) and South-South cooperationwere discussed.
Donor countries reported on their financial or technical contributions. Germany has aspecial fund of US$1.3 million to support enabling activities in Africa, which it willreplenish in 1997. The Japan Fund for Global Environment has been created to fundNGO activities. Switzerland outlined several areas it will be funding and appealed toaffected countries to provide reports on how they are promoting participation of affectedpopulations. Australia and France reported on technical input they will make in CCDimplementation. Finland highlighted its contribution to the work on indicators, whileCanada elaborated on its work in developing countries.
Regional groups and intergovernmental agencies also contributed to the discussion. TheOrganization of African Unity (OAU) highlighted regional and subregional meetings ithas been involved in. The OAU is torn between the need for inter-African cooperation toensure sustainable development and the need to cope with issues of peace and democracy,including conflict resolution and natural disaster control. Lesotho, on behalf of the SADCcountries, noted that their regional programme seeks to strengthen institutions andregional early warning systems, promote cooperation in the sustainable management ofnatural resources and develop appropriate technology. Kenya, on behalf of IGADD, saidIGADD has been restructured and now includes an office for humanitarian affairs. TheConvention has been translated into Swahili and will be translated into many otherlanguages of the subregion. South Africa, on behalf of the Valdivia Group (a group oftemperate southern hemisphere countries), reported on an initiative to exchange expertisebetween NGOs and governments that was launched at INCD-8.
Ireland, on behalf of the European Union, said that responsibility for commitments tocombat desertification lies with national governments. The European Commission isreviewing the EU countries’ activities on desertification, and is assessing what progresshas been made. An informal task force will produce recommendations and guidelines forthe implementation of the CCD.
In its work on the Convention, UNDP/UNSO has identified three problems in thepreparation of action programmes: national coordinating bodies often lack the authorityor credibility to bring together all the actors; not everyone views NAPs as a participatoryand iterative processes; and many of the NAP initiatives still lack financial support. TheFAO said it will cooperate with the Italian Government to host COP-1 in Rome andwelcomed IFAD’s proposal to host the GM.
INTERIM MEASURES IN ASIA: Thirteen delegates from Asia spoke oninterim measures in Asia. Several noted national characteristics that contributed todesertification, such as the landmines and damaged bridges in Afghanistan that reduce theamount of rangeland used for grazing.
One of the speakers to identify national initiatives was China, which has enhanced therole of governmental organizations in coordinating policies related to drought. China isalso training local policy makers to better understand CCD-related policies. In an NGOstatement, Ms. Niu Yuquin from the China Desert Reclamation Association said she hasbeen combating desertification in her village. Armenia has introduced bills onenvironmental, vegetation and wildlife protection to create a system to protect naturalresources. Bangladesh has introduced environmental education into the educationalcurriculum. Yemen is helping local sectors and NGOs take part in the struggle againstdesertification. Israel announced that negotiations with Germany are expected to concludesoon, resulting in a new academic programme offering an advanced degree in desertsciences. Myanmar is planning an awareness raising seminar.
Cooperative efforts in the region were also noted. Iran said the Asian regional network,DESCONAP, can be the main mechanism through which the regional Annex can beimplemented. Russia hopes to bring together the administrative heads of the countries inthe region to develop a plan of action to combat desertification. India reported on theregional meeting held in August in India. Jordan noted joint initiatives with severalMiddle Eastern countries.
Several countries noted the need for resources, including Nepal, who expressed hope thatthe GM would mobilize substantial resources and that the least developed countrieswould receive special attention. Executive Secretary Diallo noted that the bulk of bilateralfunding for activities in Asia has come from Switzerland, Japan and the Netherlands.
INTERIM MEASURES IN LATIN AMERICA: Seven delegates spoke on thesubject of interim measures in Latin America. National efforts include: creating anadvisory body to elaborate the national programme and special programmes for territoriesin affected areas (Cuba); establishing a national information network (Brazil); includingNGOs as much as possible in decision-making on drylands problems (Peru); holdingawareness days involving the media and local communities (Bolivia); and sponsoring anational reforestation programme (Mexico).
Cooperative efforts in Latin America include efforts by Chile to initiate regionalcooperation on research, and by Brazil and Mexico to assist Haiti in combatingdesertification. Brazil discussed the regional development of indicators and benchmarks.
Colombia emphasized the socio-economic aspects of desertification. UNDP discussedUNDP/UNSO activities in Latin America and the Caribbean, and reaffirmed UNDP’scommitment to implement the CCD in close cooperation with other UN agencies.
INTERIM MEASURES IN THE NORTHERN MEDITERRANEAN: Spainspoke on behalf of the Annex IV Countries (Northern Mediterranean), and elaborated ontheir cooperation. A regional reflection group was created, national focal points wereidentified, and contacts between organizations were established. Spain emphasized itsown commitment to the CCD process through participation in regional meetings andfunding activities in Latin America and Africa. Turkey has organized a symposium oncombating erosion and desertification.
NGO ACTIVITIES: Masse Lo, on behalf of the international NGO networkRIOD, presented NGO activities in CCD implementation in all regions. He stated thatinstitutional problems in some countries have been encountered and that the machinery isbeing established to strengthen NGOs’ relationship with some subregional organizations.
STATUS OF SIGNATURE AND RATIFICATION OF THE CONVENTION
Ratifications were received from six countries during the two-week session in New York(Mongolia, Central African Republic, Gabon, Botswana, Haiti and Zambia), bringing thetotal number to forty-seven. The Convention will enter into force 90 days after fiftycountries have ratified it. A number of delegates noted that the ratification process hadbegun in their country and many anticipated that it would be completed before the end ofthe year. The countries that had ratified or acceded to the Convention previously, inchronological order, are: Mexico, Cape Verde, the Netherlands, Egypt, Senegal, Ecuador,Lesotho, Finland, Togo, Tunisia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Peru,Sudan, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Niger, Mauritius, Bangladesh, BurkinaFaso, Spain, Micronesia, Israel, Portugal, Panama, Lebanon, Algeria, the Gambia,Malawi, Germany, Libya, Oman, Bolivia, Mauritania, Eritrea, Benin and Norway.
REVIEW OF THE SITUATION AS REGARDS EXTRABUDGETARY FUNDS
Executive Secretary Diallo reviewed the situation as regards extrabudgetary funds, ascontained in documents A/AC.241/59 and Add.1. He outlined the various expenditures,including activities funded over the last biennium, and details of the developing countriesfunded to participate at INCD-9. He also provided a breakdown of donor countrycontributions since the INCD began and presented the Secretariat’s staffing situation. Hesaid that although the financial report indicated the amounts up to 31 May (when the UNfinancial year end), the addendum outlines the funds that have been sent to the UN sincethen for use by the INCD.
Greece, on behalf of the OECD group of countries and supported by Germany andAustralia, commended the quality of the Report. The OECD group of countries alsorequested the Secretariat to submit a work plan for each biennium and sought clarificationon whether the fellowships and grants indicated in the trust funds are recurrentexpenditures.
The Netherlands announced that it had committed itself to provide one million guilders,but it has doubled the figure and earmarked an additional one million guilders(US$660,000) to fund technical and institutional support to affected countries. INCDChair Kjelln noted that contributions to the voluntary fund have been difficult to raise,although the situation has improved.
PANEL DISCUSSION ON WOMEN AND DESERTIFICATION
A panel discussion on Women and Desertification was held on Monday afternoon, 9September. Five women and two men, drawn from Africa, Asia, Europe, North and LatinAmerica, elaborated on the constraints women face in access to credit, land and decision-making processes, all of which are relevant for effectively combating desertification. Thespeakers came from diverse sectors: youth and women’s groups, the private sector,pastoral communities, academia and government.
Cecilia Kinuthia-Njenga from the Environment Liaison Centre International gave anoverview of the provisions for women in the CCD. Gaudensia Kenyange, from Uganda’sCommercial Bank, focused on the constraints women face to obtaining credit, whileAFAD (Mali) explained the important role credit systems and training for income-generating activities could play in the fight against desertification. Venkat Ramnayya ofYouth for Action (India) spoke about women and land degradation and stressed their lackof involvement in agricultural decision-making.
Allyce Kureiya from the Marsabit Development Programme (Kenya) stressed theimportant role economic independence played in empowering women to be involved indecision-making. Ricard Minougou of Association pour la Protection de la Nature(Burkina Faso) presented the organizations’ pilot project on women and desertification.
Belinda Bruce of Farm Radio Network (Canada) elaborated on the use of radios inexchanging information aimed at improving food production, health and nutrition at thegrassroots level. Elizabeth Chiedza Gwaunza discussed the Zimbabwean case of landtenure, and said that if women are guaranteed access to land they will have moremotivation to resist and respond to environmental degradation.
WORKING GROUP I
Working Group I, which was chaired by Mahmoud ould El Gaouth (Mauritania), coveredthree issues in preparation for the first Conference of the Parties (COP-1): the GlobalMechanism; designation of a Permanent Secretariat and arrangements for its functioning;and financial rules.
THE GLOBAL MECHANISM
The Group discussed the two central issues of the Global Mechanism (GM) — itsfunctions and the criteria to select the host institution. The Secretariat’s document(A/AC.241/56) was used as the basis for negotiation. The Chair’s plan was to start bynegotiating the least contentious subject, criteria to select the host of the GlobalMechanism. Delegates argued that it would be difficult to decide on the criteria forselection before deciding its functions, so they started with the functions.
FUNCTIONS OF THE GLOBAL MECHANISM: The Secretariat’s textcontained a chapeau and five functions: collection and dissemination of information;analyzing and advising on request; facilitating cooperation and coordination; mobilizingand channeling resources; and reporting to the COP. Consensus was easily reached on allbut one, mobilizing and channeling resources.
At the suggestion of the OECD group of countries, a new paragraph was added to thechapeau stating that the GM’s function is to “promote actions leading to the mobilizationof resources.” Delegates also added the G-77 and China’s amendment to the firstparagraph emphasizing the GM’s accountability to the COP, including in policy,operational modalities and activities, and the need for transparency, universality andneutrality.
The G-77 and China’s proposals for additional roles on cooperation and coordinationwere also agreed upon. These included calling for: action to increase awareness among,and promote participation in the implementation of the CCD, of other sectors andstakeholder groups; the promotion of the full use and continued support of fundingsources; and the promotion of partnership building in the mobilization of resources.
The contents of the report to the COP attracted debate. The OECD group of countriespreferred an assessment on the “likely” availability of future funding. The G-77 andChina objected, saying this would prejudge the content of the report. The word wasdropped.
The function of mobilizing and channeling financial resources, paragraph 4, presented themost difficulty. Agreement was only reached on the GM’s role to promote actions leadingto the transfer of technology and use of indigenous knowledge (subparagraph (d)).
The G-77 and China supported the Secretariat’s text related to resource mobilization(subparagraphs (a)-(c)). The OECD group of countries would not agree to the text unlessthese functions were preceded by an introduction that stated “promote actions leading to.”The Group formed an informal working group, which transformed into an open-endedcontact group that met Wednesday evening, 11 September, and all day Thursday.Consequently, only brief sessions of Working Group I were held on these days.
The contact group was established to draft text on these subparagraphs, but the regionaland interest groups drafted and exchanged text informally instead. The G-77 and Chinaintroduced a new version late Thursday evening, which almost achieved consensusbecause all the paragraphs, except one, were preceded by the chapeau of interest to theOECD group of countries. The lone paragraph precipitated disagreement. Whenconsensus failed, the G-77 and China reiterated an earlier statement that they viewed theentire document (A/AC.241/56) as a package, thus without agreement on this paragraphthe whole document should be bracketed. The OECD group of countries re-introduced theproposals they had issued Monday. Delegates agreed to bracket all three texts (theSecretariat’s proposals, the text introduced Thursday evening and the text of the OECDgroup of countries). The entire negotiated text on functions and criteria was alsobracketed.
CRITERIA FOR SELECTING AN INSTITUTION TO HOUSE THE GLOBALMECHANISM: Delegates quickly reached agreement on the Secretariat’s text,which outlines the three criteria to be considered in selecting an institution to house theGlobal Mechanism: relationship to the COP; functional capacity; and administrative andother support. The G-77 and China also introduced three new criteria for the functionalcapacity, which were agreed after a brief discussion on how to phrase the text. Thecriteria require the institution to demonstrate its capacity to: provide and/or facilitate thefinancing of research and the transfer, acquisition and adaptation of technology; deal withpoverty eradication and development issues; and exhibit principles of transparency,neutrality and universality in its management and operations.
The Group adopted a procedural draft decision that: transmits the INCD deliberations toINCD-10; requests IFAD and UNDP to submit their updated offers to the Secretariat by21 October 1996; and invites governments to submit to the Secretariat written commentson the updated offers and to consider the selection of the host of the GM at INCD-10.
DESIGNATION OF A PERMANENT SECRETARIAT
Delegates covered two issues related to the Permanent Secretariat: the physical location,as contained in documents A/AC.241/54 and Add.1-3; and administrative arrangements,as contained in documents A/AC.241/55 and Add.1-3, and a G-77 and China proposalfrom INCD-7 (A/AC.241/WG.I(VII)/L.1).
PHYSICAL LOCATION: The issue on physical location was addressed during ameeting where the three countries bidding to host the Permanent Secretariat madepresentations on their offers. In a well-attended session, Spain’s Minister forEnvironment made the first presentation, which was followed by a film on Spain and thehost city, Murcia. She enumerated several cultural, social, economic and infrastructuralbenefits of the city, and noted ongoing desertification research in the region. Spain wouldprovide 1100 square meters of office space indefinitely. In addition, Spain would provideUS$1 million every year in technical assistance to the Secretariat and nearly US$8 millionfor desertification projects in developing countries.
Canada’s offer was presented by the tri-lingual Mayor of the bidding city, Montreal. TheMayor’s statement, which was given alternately in Spanish, French and English, wasdelivered alongside a slide presentation. The low cost of living and the presence of otherinternational organizations were among the advantages he noted. Canada’s total offeramounts to approximately US$5.2 million.
Germany’s Director General for Development Cooperation offered the city of Bonn ashost, and stressed: the city’s relatively low cost of living by European standards; itsproximity to cities in other continents; and the need for CCD to have similar workingconditions as the Climate Change Convention. Among many other commitments,Germany will provide: approximately US$1.3 million annually, without a time limit, forthe Secretariat and Secretariat events for the CCD, in addition to their assessedcontributions; rent-free office space without a time limit; and relocation costs andGerman language courses for the Secretariat staff.
When the floor was opened for discussion, no clarifications were requested or questionsraised. At the suggestion of the Chair of the Working Group, it was agreed that acommittee, comprised of INCD Chair Kjelln, representatives of regional groups, theChairs of the Working Groups and representatives from the three cities, should beestablished to prepare a proposal for submission to COP-1 on how the selection processshould proceed.
ADMINISTRATIVE ARRANGEMENTS: The Group held two formal sessionsand one informal one on this subject. In addition to the documentation provided and theopening Plenary statements by UNEP’s Executive Director and the Deputy Administratorof UNDP, the two institutions provided supplementary information during a WorkingGroup meeting. WMO also made a brief statement.
In accordance with the mandates given to it during UNCED, by the UN GeneralAssembly and by its own Governing Council, UNEP said it would continue to supportactivities to combat desertification and is therefore willing to provide administrativeassistance. UNEP also clarified that its offer was not linked to any of the bidding cities.UNDP noted that its offer was to provide some support but it was not bidding to becomethe host institution. WMO said it would continue to offer its support to the Convention.When the Chair opened the floor for debate, no questions were raised.
During the second formal meeting on this subject, the Chair reminded delegates of theproposal made by Uganda at INCD-7, which is contained in an INCD-7 draft decisionproposed by the G-77 and China, that calls on the UN Secretariat to host the PermanentSecretariat. He asked delegates to have an exchange of views on the subject, and todiscuss the offers from UNDP, UNEP and WMO, in order to make a decision in favor ofone of them. The Chair noted that in accordance with a decision at INCD-8, theProgramme and Budget (of the Permanent Secretariat) would be taken up at INCD-10. Hetherefore proposed transmitting the financial aspect of the Permanent Secretariat referredto in the G-77 and China’s document to INCD-10 as well. He also presented a Chair’sdraft decision that closely resembled the proposal the G-77 and China tabled at INCD-7,with blank spaces left to fill in the name of the institution selected.
The OECD group of countries said a decision could not be reached at this session becausethey still need additional information regarding: how the arrangements with the UNSecretariat would work; whether or not the WMO offer is linked to a decision for thepermanent location to be Switzerland, given that WMO’s headquarters are inSwitzerland; what the partial support from UNDP entails; and what the reforms expectedat UNEP would be. The G-77 and China stressed their wish to have the UN Secretariat asthe host, since the UN hosts the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC).Tunisia stated that, unlike the Convention on Biodiversity, the FCCC and CCD have beenunder the aegis of the UN General Assembly since the beginning and the twinconventions on climate change and desertification should be reunited. The US stressedthe importance of studying the budgetary implications of each arrangement.
A two-hour informal evening meeting was convened during the second week, with theintention of receiving clarifications from the host institutions to enable the Group to reacha decision. The Chair retabled his draft decision and asked delegates to fill in the blanks.The OECD group of countries said they could only proceed to do so on the understandingthat the G-77 and China draft decision would be withdrawn, to which the G-77 and Chinaobjected. The Working Group eventually adopted a procedural draft decision that wasproposed by the OECD group of countries, calling on the UN Secretary-General andUNEP to answer questions posed by INCD members, for consideration at INCD-10.
DRAFT FINANCIAL RULES OF THE CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES, ITS SUBSIDIARY BODIES AND THE PERMANENT SECRETARIAT
Working Group I briefly considered the draft Financial Rules of the COP, its SubsidiaryBodies and the Permanent Secretariat (A/AC.241/45/Rev.1), but all substantiveagreements were reached by an informal negotiating group that met Friday, 6 September.Most of the outstanding text left after INCD-8 was resolved, except for the references tothe institutional host. Language from the financial rules for the Climate ChangeConvention was borrowed to: describe the working capital reserve for the General Fund(maintained at a level to be determined from time to time by the COP by consensus); andresources (contributions made each year by Parties on the basis of an indicative scale,adopted by consensus, and based on the UN scale of assessments).
Rule 23 in A/AC.241/45/Rev.2 regarding whether certain financial decisions of the COPshall be adopted “by consensus” or “by consensus whenever possible, and...as a lastresort, by a two-thirds majority...” was left in brackets. During the final discussion of theissue, Austria said he and other OECD countries had understood that Rule 23 would bedeleted. If not, he had minor amendments to introduce to other parts of the text. TheChair said he would recommend that the rule be deleted when he introduced the text tothe closing Plenary. A draft decision was adopted to transmit the revised text to INCD-10for further consideration.
WORKING GROUP II
Working Group II, chaired by Takao Shibata (Japan), addressed: the rules of procedure ofthe COP; organization of scientific and technological cooperation; and procedures forcommunication of information. The Chair recommended that the Group leave as little aspossible for consideration at future sessions of the INCD. During meetings of WorkingGroup II, Benin spoke on behalf of the G-77 and China.
DRAFT RULES OF PROCEDURE OF THE CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES
Delegates considered the revised negotiating text of the rules of procedure of the COP(A/AC.241/48/Rev.1), which reflected the deliberations of Working Group II at INCD-8.Delegates had reached Rule 22 (election of officers) during the eighth session, and beganwith consideration of Rule 23 (powers of the President). Benin reminded delegates thatbrackets remained in Rules 5 (notification of sessions) and 6 (participation of UN andspecialized agencies). The Chair reminded delegates that Rule 22 contained bracketsbecause there was no decision on the size of the Bureau. The Group did not have time toreturn to Rules 5, 6 and 22. Most of the remaining brackets were removed.
The election of officers of subsidiary bodies (Rule 31) and whether subsidiary bodieswould vote (Rule 52) generated debate. In Rule 31, the G-77 and China proposed deletingthe reference to election of the chairperson by the COP “unless the COP decidesotherwise.” The UK supported the flexibility that the phrase added, and proposedextending the clause to the election of vice-chairs, but the G-77 and China objected.Delegates accepted the Chair’s proposal to add a sentence prior to the draft text notingthat the Chair of the Committee on Science and Technology will be decided by the COPand retaining the rule as drafted.
In Rule 52 (method of voting), the G-77 and China supported retaining bracketed textnoting that “with the exception of elections of the Bureau of subsidiary bodies, votingshall be restricted to plenary meetings” of the COP. The G-77 and China expressedconcern that if subsidiary bodies are authorized to vote, the COP could not call intoquestion their decisions. The UK proposed moving the text so it would follow Rule 31,and be in the section regarding subsidiary bodies, and delegates agreed.
The issue of whether the meetings of subsidiary bodies should be held in public orprivate, in Rule 35, also attracted lengthy debate. The G-77 and China supported “public”meetings, but the UK expressed concern that preparatory meetings would be “open to thepress and the man in the street.” Delegates agreed that meetings of the subsidiary bodiesshould be public, unless the subsidiary body concerned decides otherwise. New text wasalso added noting that meetings of ad hoc subsidiary bodies shall be private unlessthe body decides otherwise.
In Rule 47, regarding majority required, delegates removed text noting that a “two-thirds”majority would be required to overrule a President’s ruling.
Rules specifying languages to be used were another source of debate. In Rule 52, methodof voting, the G-77 and China proposed deleting the bracketed reference to voting orderbased on English alphabetical order. The US and UK preferred to specify a singlelanguage. Canada suggested that voting begin with the Party whose name is drawn by lotand proceed from that point based on the order of ratification. This proposal wasbracketed along with the previously bracketed text.
In Rule 57 on official languages, the G-77 and China proposed retaining reference to thesix official UN languages. Japan expressed concern about the budgetary implications andsuggested that subsidiary bodies should reduce the need for translation as much aspossible, but supported the G-77 and China proposal. The Chair noted that the issue hasnot been resolved by other conventions and proposed that the brackets be deleted and thathe would work with Japan to incorporate their concerns.
While the Group was adopting its report, Spain pointed out that an amendment itsuggested at INCD-8 was not reflected in the document. The amendment called foradequate representation of “Annex” affected country Parties. During the closing Plenary,Spain repeated this concern with respect to Rules 22 (election of officers of COP) and 31(election of officers of subsidiary bodies). The INCD Chair said the revised text forINCD-10 will contain both the current rule and Spain’s alternative in brackets. Theclosing Plenary adopted a decision calling for the preparation of a revised text for INCD-10 reflecting the deliberations of Working Group II (A/AC.241/WG.II(IX)/L.5).
THE ORGANIZATION OF SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL COOPERATION
During consideration of the organization of scientific and technological cooperation(A/AC.241/57), most issues that had resulted in controversy at earlier sessions of theINCD were resolved relatively quickly. Delegates generally agreed throughout thedocument to include language that called for a multidisciplinary approach, appropriategender balance, and broad and equitable geographical representation.
TERMS OF REFERENCE OF THE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE ANDTECHNOLOGY (CST): The earlier extensive debate on the advisory functions ofthe CST and whether the CST should “assess”, as suggested by the G-77 and China, or“monitor,” as preferred by the UK, was resolved by calling on the CST to “collectinformation, analyze, assess and report developments in science and technology.”
On the issue of the composition of the Bureau of the CST in paragraph 6, as well as inRules 22 and 31 in the rules of procedure, delegates agreed that there was no need tospecify the number of Bureau members for the CST at this point. However, Spain laterraised the issue, related to Rules 22 and 31 of the rules of procedure, that “Annex”affected country Parties should have adequate representation on the Bureau. He insistedthat such language be included in brackets.
THE ROSTER OF EXPERTS AND AD HOC PANELS: AlthoughINCD-9 provided the first opportunity to negotiate this text, it was adopted with only afew amendments. A question on the nature of the experts led to the clarification that“independent experts” would act in their personal capacity, express their independentscientific views and that the roster consists of independent experts, in contrast to thegovernment-appointed members of the CST.
A contentious issue was the nomination of experts to be included on the roster. The G-77and China expressed concern that experts could be “nominated irrespective of theirnationality” and suggested deletion of this phrase, while the UK and others argued thatgovernments could nominate experts from countries other than their own. After extensivedebate, the language was deleted because it was understood that experts from any countrycould be nominated.
On the issue of whether CST representatives could also be listed on the roster, the G-77and China expressed concern that some countries would not have enough experts for boththe CST and the roster. The UK objected, emphasizing the need to make a distinctionbetween the government-appointed experts on the CST and the independent experts onthe roster. Delegates agreed to delete the paragraph that stated that CST representativescould not be listed on the roster as well.
FUTURE WORK PROGRAMME: The Group also considered the future workprogramme of the CST. Delegates agreed to propose that the Secretariat should compilethe views of delegations and agencies and draft a report on the work programme ofsimilar UN bodies, their work related to desertification and suggestions for collaboration,all of which would be submitted to INCD-10. Delegates noted that the CST workprogramme shall follow that of the COP, and that it should include the implementation ofArticle 25 in the Convention, regarding networking of institutions, agencies and bodies.
PROCEDURES FOR COMMUNICATION OF INFORMATION AND REVIEW OF IMPLEMENTATION
Delegates considered the output from INCD-8 regarding procedures for communicationof information and review of implementation, as contained in A/AC.241/49/Rev.1. TheWorking Group resolved all outstanding text without making substantive changes, andtransmitted a draft decision to the Plenary (A/AC.241/WG.I(IX)/L.1) recommending thatCOP-1 adopt the agreed text. The Plenary adopted the decision.
In connection with the bracketed paragraph 10, regarding the format and content ofreports, delegates reviewed the conference room paper (CRP) that had been prepared onbenchmarks and indicators. Youssef Brahimi of the Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS)presented the CRP, which included sections on the concept of indicators, implementationindicators, impact indicators and recommendations. During the discussion that followed,delegates decided that the interim Secretariat should continue its work on indicators andinvolve those who worked on the CRP as well as other interested countries andorganizations, prior to INCD-10. A draft decision to this effect(A/AC.241/WG.II(IX)/L.4) was adopted during the final Plenary.
The closing Plenary took place Friday morning, 13 September 1996. The ExecutiveSecretary updated the Plenary on CCD ratification, noting that the relevant instruments ofHaiti and Zambia had just been received. INCD Chair Bo Kjelln then invited the Chairsof the working groups to present the reports of their respective groups.
WORKING GROUP I: Chair Mahmoud ould El Gaouth (Mauritania) presentedreports on: the identification of an organization to house the Global Mechanism;administrative arrangements for the Permanent Secretariat; draft financial rules of theConference of the Parties, its subsidiary bodies and the Permanent Secretariat; and thefuture and potential location of the Permanent Secretariat. He noted that the issue of thebudget was not on the INCD-9 agenda and will be discussed at INCD-10. All of theGroup’s agreements were reached late Thursday night, 12 September, and were providedto the Plenary in English only, without document numbers.
On the Global Mechanism, the Chair drew attention to the report, which was annexed tothe draft decision that transmits the INCD-9 deliberations to INCD-10. El Gaouth pointedout that the third bracketed option of paragraph 4 titled “Promoting actions leading to themobilization and channeling of substantial financial resources to all levels,” does notreflect the changes made by the Group, and he provided the necessary corrections.
With respect to the designation of a Permanent Secretariat, he reported that the issueregarding the physical location had been taken up by the INCD Chair. He presented theGroup’s decision on administrative arrangements calling on the UN Secretary-Generaland UNEP to answer questions posed by INCD members regarding their bids forconsideration at INCD-10.
He also presented a draft decision on the financial rules that transmits the revised text toINCD-10. He pointed out that Rule 23 (decision procedures) contradicted the rest of thetext. He said that, pending Working Group II’s discussions on the rules of procedure,Working Group I would request deletion of Rule 23, but it will remain bracketed untilINCD-10.
WORKING GROUP II: The Chair, Takao Shibata (Japan), presented theWorking Group’s five draft decisions. He said draft decision A/AC.241/WG.II(IX)/L.1,procedures for communication and review of implementation, will be taken by COP-1.
The draft decision on the organization of scientific and technological cooperation(A/AC.241/WG.II(IX)/L.2) has three recommendations to COP-1: the terms of referenceof the committee on science and technology; procedures for the establishment andmaintenance of an independent roster of experts; and procedures for the establishment ofad hoc panels.
Draft decision A/AC.241/WG.II(IX)L.3 refers to the preparations needed to facilitatediscussion at INCD-10 on the possible work programme of the CST. It invites membersto provide comments on the programme of work and requests the Secretariat to prepare areport.
Draft decision A/AC.241/WG.II(IX)/L.4 relates to the continuation of work on thedevelopment of benchmarks and indicators to measure progress in the implementation ofthe Convention. Shibata also presented a procedural draft decision,A/AC.241/WG.II(IX)/L.5, requesting the Secretariat to prepare a revised text on the rulesof procedure for the COP for discussion at INCD-10.
ADOPTION OF DECISIONS AND INCD-9 REPORT: Kjelln noted that theissues had advanced in such a way that there was already agreement on text to besubmitted to COP-1, adding that it was not envisaged at the start of the preparations forthe COP that the progress attained so far on the CST would be realized by this time. Heintimated that the setting up of the Intergovernmental Panel of Experts on Desertificationby the General Assembly in 1992 set the tone for adding the CST dimension to the CCD.Kjelln then invited delegates to adopt the decisions.
Working Group II’s draft decisions on communication of information, the Committee onScience and Technology and the work on benchmarks and indicators, were adopted.
Spain objected to the draft decision to the COP on the organization of scientific andtechnological cooperation (A/AC.241/WG.II(IX)/L.2), stating that: Spain had objected toits adoption and transmission to COP-1; and there was no consensus in the working groupwith regard to paragraph 6 on the composition of the Bureau. He said the documentshould be negotiated at INCD-10 before submission to COP-1. Kjelln was reluctant tore-open discussion on the paragraph. Eventually, Spain agreed that the document beadopted for transmission to COP-1 with a footnote on the first page stating that: Spain isnot party to the decision because of a reservation on paragraph 6; and Spain has the rightto raise the issue at INCD-10. Spain advanced similar concerns with respect to the rulesregarding election of officers for the COP and subsidiary bodies during the adoption ofthe decision on the rules of procedure for the COP. The Chair said the revised text forINCD-10 will contain both the current rule and Spain’s alternative in brackets. The draftdecision was then adopted.
The Plenary then addressed the draft decisions agreed to in Working Group I. The text onthe GM was adopted with the changes the Chair had read to reflect the agreement reachedby Working Group I on 12 September. The decisions regarding administrativearrangements and financial rules were also adopted.
The Chair then presented a number of other draft decisions to the Plenary. Delegatesadopted a draft decision regarding the designation of a Permanent Secretariat andarrangements for its functioning: physical location (A/AC.241/L.31). On the draftdecision regarding the venue of COP-1 (A/AC.241/L.32), the Netherlands indicated it hadintended to offer to host COP-1, but supported Italy and the FAO’s invitation, whichdelegates adopted. The Chair noted that the draft decision regarding maintenance of theinterim arrangements to support the Convention beyond the first COP (A/AC.241/L.33)requested the General Assembly to consider supporting the interim CCD Secretariatthrough 1998. The present arrangements extend until the end of 1997, but since COP-1will take place at the end of 1997, there will be little time for the transfer from the interimto the Permanent Secretariat. The decision was adopted.
In presenting the draft decision on the organization of future work of the Committee(A/AC.241/L.34), the Chair said: it was his firm conviction that the INCD should beterminated at the tenth session; that the programme of work for INCD-10 should bestructured to allow sufficient time for group consultations at the beginning of the session;and that the text authorized the Chair to organize consultations he deems necessary forthe appropriate preparation of COP-1. The decision was adopted.
Rapporteur Anatolii Ovchinnikov (Uzbekistan) presented the draft report of INCD-9(A/AC.241/L.30) and stated it would be updated based on the actions just taken at theclosing Plenary. Delegates adopted the report and authorized Ovchinnikov to incorporatethe day’s proceedings. Kjelln said a Chair’s summary of the discussion on urgent actionfor Africa and interim actions elsewhere would be included as an annex to the report.
CONCLUDING REMARKS: In his closing statement, Kjelln noted thatnegotiations on the Global Mechanism are not easy because it is a new concept and islinked to broader issues such as transfer of resources to developing countries. He hoped toconduct consultations on the institution to host the Global Mechanism, which will pavethe way for a decision at the next session. He pointed to the outstanding organizationalissues, such as the physical location and administration of the Permanent Secretariat, theGlobal Mechanism and financial decisions, and said the Interim Secretariat is preparing adocument on what needs to be decided at COP-1. Kjelln also noted that unexpectedprogress had been made during this session and said that the discussion on urgent actionshows that the CCD is a living document around which action has already been taken.
Costa Rica, on behalf of the G-77 and China, said his group had shown flexibility on theGlobal Mechanism, but since others had no proposals the issue was left pending. Heurged participants to arrive at the next session with the political will to resolve theseissues and to make INCD-10 more constructive. Ireland, on behalf of the EU, said it wasimportant to come to INCD-10 prepared to solve the outstanding issues. Australia lookedforward to concluding the negotiations at INCD-10.
A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF INCD-9
When INCD Chair Bo Kjelln noted at the closing Plenary that this session hadaccomplished more than he expected, he expressed what many delegates were feeling —slow but steady progress was made at INCD-9. A few said they had lost their fire and newblood is needed to ignite it. Newcomers said that although the issues were difficult theysensed a real willingness from all parties to find consensus, unlike many other processesof this kind.
Negotiations dealing with rules of procedure, scientific and technological cooperation,financial rules and procedures for communication of information and review ofimplementation were largely completed. The main issues that remain to be resolved atINCD-10 are the function of the Global Mechanism and its host institution, as well as thephysical and administrative host of the Permanent Secretariat. The programme and budgetof the Permanent Secretariat, which was not on the agenda at INCD-9, will be discussedat INCD-10.
Although Working Group I was bogged down by disagreement on the Global Mechanism,Working Group II sailed smoothly through most of its agenda, allowing even a brief lookahead at what to include in the work programme of the Committee on Science andTechnology. Nevertheless, some delegates complained that time could have been usedmore efficiently, especially since meetings were often delayed by up to forty-five minutes.This was largely as a result of consultations in regional groups. Some suggested that timeshould be allocated before INCD-10 for regional groups to prepare their positions, to befollowed by a shorter INCD session. The proponents of a shorter INCD-10 argued thatlonger sessions only serve to allow delegates to postpone making difficult decisions.
IMPLEMENTATION MEASURES UNDERWAY: Many delegates expressedsatisfaction with the reports on the implementation measures being undertaken in allregions. Presentations from affected African countries reflected that their preparationshad now moved from awareness raising to addressing legal and policy provisions tocreate an enabling environment for the participation of affected populations. Some notedthat the achievements of the action programmes so far demonstrate that the Convention isworthwhile. Delegates felt that in spite of the fact that the time allocated to this debatewas shorter than in the past, the reports were still of high quality. Many also attributedthis to good organization and cooperation from delegates. A speakers list was preparedand publicized well in advance, delegates adhered to the five-minute time limit perspeaker and many circulated supplementary information.
STEADY PROGRESS ON RATIFICATIONS: Instruments of ratificationtrickled in steadily during INCD-9, bringing the total to 47. With only three ratificationsto go to reach the required 50, the Convention is expected to come into force in early1997. Despite this positive development, some developing countries expressed concernthat the Convention was not considered important enough by Northern countries, such asthe US, the UK, France and Japan, who have not yet ratified it. Some stated that althoughthe South has already ratified conventions that are of interest to the North, the Northseems to have lost interest in ratifying and funding CCD implementation. Others arguedthat the problem is not the lack of political will, but the bureaucracy involved inratification processes in some of these countries.
DESIGNATION OF THE PERMANENT SECRETARIAT: While the biddingon the physical location of the Permanent Secretariat has begun, some delegationsregretted that no offer came from Africa. The main contenders seem to be Montreal,where the cost of living is lower and co-location with the Biodiversity Secretariat couldbe advantageous, and Bonn, where the Climate Change Secretariat is located and whosecountry offered the largest financial package. Observers noted that both are trying toestablish themselves as international cities. The third contender, Murcia, in Spain, has theattraction of being located close to desertified areas, but many delegates privatelyquipped, “how does one get there?”
Considering the UN’s current financial constraints, the political pressure the organizationis being subjected to, and the haunting past of the 1977 UN Conference on Desertificationand its Programme of Action to Combat Desertification, which were marked by a lack ofpolitical will to mobilize financial resources to combat desertification, the final decisionmay well be in favor of the best economic offer. Yet, some caution that even such anattractive offer may be superseded by the usual politicking. Many hoped that the actiontaken at INCD-9 to establish a contact group consisting of the Bureau members, WorkingGroup Chairs, representatives of regional groups and the bidding countries, wouldsafeguard against such politicking and provide a transparent method in making thischoice.
Although both WMO and UNDP have signaled an interest in providing support to thePermanent Secretariat, the strongest contenders seem to be UNEP and the UN itself.Some delegates suggested that placing the Secretariat directly under the UN and itsSecretary-General would give the Secretariat a higher status, while under UNDP orUNEP it would be closer to the field. The latter seemed preferable to some in the light ofthe Convention’s participatory approach. Others suggested that the UNEP administrationwould be desirable in order to emphasize that the Convention addresses environment andnot solely development issues. Some believed that oversight by the Secretary-Generalwould be more detached and give the CCD Secretariat more autonomy, an aspect thatsome desired while others expressed reservations about the consequences.Notwithstanding other arguments, it seemed clear that all groups are treading cautiouslyand closely watching the performance of the Secretariats of the Biodiversity and ClimateChange Conventions, in particular with respect to transparency, acceptance of thepredominant role of the COP, and administrative and decision-making procedures. Theanticipated reforms in UNEP will also have implications for the INCD’s decision.
The OECD group of countries seemed surprised that the G-77 and China expected adecision on the administration of the Permanent Secretariat at this session. They arguedthat it was not decided this early in other negotiations and that they needed time toconsult their home departments to solve technical issues, as well as to receive moredetails regarding the bids. Members of the G-77 and China were disappointed that adecision could not be taken. Some believed that the OECD group of countries wasstalling and not giving priority to these negotiations.
Some delegates have suggested that some people are linking the choice of location andhost institution. At present, UNEP provides administrative support to the Secretariat ofthe Convention on Biological Diversity, which is located in Montreal. The UN Secretary-General provides administrative support to the Secretariat of the Convention on ClimateChange, which is located in Bonn. The bidding cities and institutions noted that theiroffers are not linked together, and that the institutional presence of UNEP and the UN arenot limited to a single location.
DJ VU ALL OVER AGAIN: Negotiations on the Global Mechanism’sfunction of mobilizing resources was, for many, a repeat of the experience in Paris inJune 1994. The late night meetings by informal groups, frequent adjournment ofmeetings, and a contact group were all used by Working Group I and were familiar tothose who had followed the same issue at INCD-5 in Paris.
Nevertheless, delegates were content with progress made on the Global Mechanism.Positions appeared to be clearer now than they were at INCD-8 and regional groups weremore direct about what they wanted. Some fear that the GM will be only a costly andineffective administrative body. One delegate joked that it should be restricted to anaddress on the World Wide Web. Others said the Global Mechanism is the heart and soulof the Convention. They complained that even though there is now consensus thatdesertification is a global problem and African countries are ready to implement theCCD, the lack of decision on the Global Mechanism signifies that there is still reluctanceto support the Convention.
Several delegates remarked that the lack of consensus on the still outstanding issue is dueto a confusion between the role to be played by the institution that hosts the GlobalMechanism and the role of the Mechanism, which itself is not an institution. Severaldelegates noted that the GM cannot take the lead in mobilizing financial resources, whichthe Convention states clearly is the role of the Parties. The GM can only act where thereis need and play a lobbying and facilitating role. Many delegates expressed fear thatwithout multilateral arrangements, some countries and important sectors will be left outand conditionalities that come with aid may creep into the Convention. Furthermore, nomechanisms are in place to tap into the widely hailed private resources.
Delegates offered various reasons to explain the source of frustration they felt duringthese negotiations. Some delegates expressed concern that delegates who were notinvolved in the negotiation of the GM in Paris now want to renegotiate the Convention.Others suggested that the discussion was started too late in the session to realize muchprogress on such a difficult issue. Another factor was the poor preparation amongdelegates, mainly due to the frequent, unplanned changes in the agenda of WorkingGroup I. Others suggested that more progress might have been achieved if, instead ofinformally exchanging text, a small drafting group comprising all interest and regionalgroups had been established. One delegate commented that the Mechanism would foreverhaunt the Convention.
UNIQUENESS VERSUS PRECEDENT: A recurrent theme at INCD-9 waswhether or not to follow the precedent of other UN Conventions, especially the “sister”Climate Change and Biodiversity Conventions. Observers who had followed otherconventions but were new to the CCD recognized a number of the debates. For example,in the debate over several paragraphs of text in the decision on financial rules, ClimateChange “junkies” preferred to replicate decisions that had been taken by the ClimateChange Convention’s COP while others wanted to push for more than that commondenominator. Agreed language is often used in UN negotiations of all kinds, but notwithout the desire of some to go further and cautions by others that the agreed language isthe best that can be accomplished. Some delegates also noted the tendency to insist onprecedent when it supported a negotiator’s preferences, only to argue for the uniquenessof the CCD and need for original language when it did not. The tension betweenprecedence and uniqueness will continue to face delegates to the CCD long after COP-1.
SCIENCE VERSUS POLITICS: Substantive debates over the balance betweenscientific input and political decision making, which have plagued other UN negotiations,have also emerged in INCD deliberations. Working Group II addressed the issue in textson the creation of the Committee on Science and Technology and rules of procedure.Observers who have followed the INCD process since its beginning were surprised at theease with which the contentious issues in the texts related to scientific and technologicalcooperation were now resolved. However, the desire that the COP should remainsovereign was an underlying force in many of the decisions.
During discussion of the rules of procedure, for example, the G-77 and China argued thatsubsidiary bodies, such as the Committee on Science and Technology, should not beallowed to vote except for elections of the Bureau because, if subsidiary bodies areauthorized to vote, the COP may be unable to call into question their decisions. TheConvention on Biological Diversity’s Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical andTechnological Advice (SBSTTA), which met in Montreal during the first week of INCD-9, also attempted to recognize the need for balance between political and scientific input,with the Chair suggesting from the outset that the SBSTTA not become a “mini-COP,” asthe previous year’s deliberations had been labeled. Negotiations on the CCD will provideone forum in which this tension between politics and science will continue to be playedout on the international stage.
NGOS GAIN GROUND: Negotiating sessions are always the most frustratingperiods for NGOs because they find it difficult to lobby for their positions. But severaldelegates and NGOs alike said that the NGOs, in spite of having made few direct inputsfrom the floor, had realized many gains, primarily due to better preparations prior to andduring the session. NGOs submitted their texts early for the regional groups to consider,which enabled some of their inputs to be taken on board. In several cases, when theyfollowed through with one-on-one lobbying, their texts were adopted. Delegates alsonoted that NGOs also made good use of their daily publication, ECO.
THE ROAD TO THE COP: The momentum gained from incoming ratificationsand the steady progress at INCD-9 led many to believe that the preparations for the firstConference of the Parties (COP-1) may be concluded at INCD-10 in January 1997,making an eleventh session unnecessary. Despite UN General Assembly arrangements foran eleventh session (probably in August 1997), the INCD Chair only anticipates the needfor consultations between INCD-10 and COP-1 (planned for September or October1997). A number of delegates expressed concern that the four-month period betweenINCD-9 and 10 may be insufficient for delegates and the Secretariat to complete therequested work, necessitating further consultations. In view of these two points, a numberof delegates suggested postponing INCD-10 until August 1997. Some noted thatunresolved issues thereafter can be decided at COP-1. While some have constantlycompared the INCD and Climate Change Convention processes and have argued that notholding an eleventh session relegates the Convention to an inferior position, others havenoted that one reason an INCD-11 may not be needed is that the CCD has benefited fromthe groundwork laid by the previous conventions.
In spite of the short formal sessions of Working Group I during both the eighth and ninthINCD sessions, the remarkable progress made by the Group at INCD-9 may be a pointertowards the importance of consultations between the regional groups before negotiating.Granted the short interval to INCD-10, and the relative difficulty of the issues that remainto be resolved, the proposal to have adequate time for regional consultations at thebeginning of the next session seems vital. The suggestion of some that delegates return tothe “spirit” of the Paris negotiations may also provide the needed impetus to complete theINCD’s work at its final session before COP-1.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR DURING THE INTERSESSIONAL PERIOD
LAND DEGRADATION PROJECTS: The GEF STAP (Scientific and TechnicalAdvisory Panel) will host a workshop on land degradation projects, in Dakar, Senegal,from 18-20 September 1996. Contact: Mr. Rokhaya Daba Fall, STAP/GEF, HannNaristo, P.O. Box 6225, Dakar, Senegal; tel: +(221) 32 12 59; fax: +(221) 32 15 44.
EFFORTS TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT: Japan will organize asymposium, to take place in Tokyo on 17 October 1996, on desertification controlmeasures. Contact: Mr. Shin Imai, Deputy Director, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry andFisheries; tel: +81-(0)3-3502-8111, ex. 3794; e-mail: <<[email protected]>>.
IUCN WORKSHOP: An IUCN workshop on arid land and biosafety will be heldin Montreal, Canada, 17-20 October 1996. Contact: Tim Lash, Director, Regional IUCNoffice; tel: +1 514 287-9704.
EBB SEMINARS: The European Environmental Bureau (EBB) is planning anumber of seminars in Brussels under the title “Enhancing the EU implementation of theCCD.” The first will be held from 24-25 October 1996 and the second will be held in thefirst half of December 1996. Contact: EBB, 26, rue de la Victoire, B-1060 Bruxelles,Belgium; tel: +32-2-539.00.37; fax: +32-2-539.09.21; e-mail: <<[email protected]<M>gn.ap.org>>.
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON MEDITERRANEANDESERTIFICATION: The European Commission and National AgriculturalResearch Foundation will organize a conference on this issue, to be held in Crete, Greece,from 29 October to 1 November 1996. Contact: Dr. P. Balabanis or Mr. D. Peter, DG XII— Science, Research and Development, Environment and Climate Programme, 200 ruede la Loi, B-1049, Brussels, Belgium; fax: +32-2-29 63 024; e-mail:<<[email protected]>>.
SUSTAINABLE USE OF RANGELANDS: An international workshop onsustainable use of rangelands and desertification control will be held in Jeddah, SaudiArabia, from 3-6 November 1996. Contact: Dr. Said Ahmad, Technical Division, IFAD,Via Del Serarico 107, Rome, Italy; fax: +(396) 519 1702.
GOVERNMENT FOCAL POINTS: A meeting for government focal points andNGOs will be held in Mauritania from 18-22 November 1996. Contacts: Ahme Salemould Ahmed, Conseiller, Ministre de l’Environnement et du Dveloppement Rural; orthe INCD Secretariat; fax: +(41-22)979 90 30/1; e-mail: <<[email protected]>>.
NGO MEETINGS: An Afro-Asian NGO forum on South-South and South-North cooperation for implementation of the Convention will be organized by RIOD-India and Youth for Action in Hyderabad, India, from 9-12 December 1996. Contact:Venkat Ramnayya; tel: +91-40-7632474; fax: +91-40-7632372; e-mail:<<[email protected]>>.
A Central Asian NGO meeting will be held in Kyrgyzstan in October 1996. Contact: Dr.Tatyana M. Bragina, Kazakhstan NGO “Naurzum;” tel: +(314-54) 91-0-36; e-mail:<<[email protected]; or Oleg Tsaruk, Executive Director, International CentralAsian Biodiversity Institute; tel: +7(3712)91-3935; e-mail: <<[email protected]>>.
A regional NGO seminar on the implementation of the CCD will be hosted byl’Association pour un Dveloppement Durable (Association for SustainableDevelopment) in Mauritania, from 16-17 November 1996. Contact: Mohamed Abdallahiould Tolba, President, B.P. 4848 Nouakchott, Mauritania. tel: +(2222)52623, 51325,50440; fax: +(2222)57522.
INCD-10: The next session of the INCD is scheduled to take place from 6-16January 1997 at UN Headquarters in New York. Contact: CCD Interim Secretariat; E-mail: <<[email protected]>> or check out the INCD World Wide Web site at<<http://www.unep.ch/incd.html/>>.