Report of main proceedings for 7 October 1997
UNCCD COP 1
Delegates to COP-1 met in Plenary to hear statements from Ministers, in the Committee of the Whole (COW) to consider draft decisions, and in informal consultations to discuss the administrative arrangements for the Global Mechanism.
Delegates heard thirty-four statements during the High- Level Segment. Twenty-two Ministers, 5 Deputy-Ministers and 7 other officials spoke.
CCD AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: The G-77 and CHINA said the CCD is the first international convention to address environmental destruction and poverty in rural areas. The EU and NIGER stressed the role of the CCD in attaining food security. NIGER added that desertification is a global challenge requiring North-South and South-South cooperation and the development of synergies between the other Rio Conventions. MAURITANIA stressed the equality of the CCD with the conventions on biological diversity, climate change and the Montreal Protocol. FRANCE said the UNGASS meeting showed that the Rio process had run out of steam and hoped the CCD's entry into force will demonstrate a desire to compensate for that.
RESOURCE AND TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER: ITALY called for measures supporting the North-South transfer of technology, the joint implementation of commitments and the adequate provision of financial resources. CHINA noted the importance of international cooperation, the creation of an internal and external enabling environment, South-South cooperation and science and technology. IRAN, COTE d'IVOIRE, JORDAN and ALGERIA stressed the need for technical and financial support. GHANA said Africa still is in an emergency situation although the period for urgent measures has expired. TURKEY offered to share its expertise and said it is open to technology transfer. MONGOLIA said developed countries must meet their financial commitments.
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE: The EU is the largest donor, having committed more than US$2.2 million to desertification programmes. LUXEMBOURG has contributed US$1 million to a World Bank trust fund to combat desertification. The UK highlighted its new development philosophy and activities that demonstrate its commitment to the CCD, including debt cancellation and provision of over GBP 21 million for new anti-desertification activities. FRANCE will mobilize additional funds for desertification activities. The NETHERLANDS said the "lead donor" idea can give meaning to partnerships and noted that it is serving in that capacity in Burkina Faso. GERMANY is implementing several hundred desertification projects in all regions. SPAIN plans to contribute to the CST by serving as a leader for specific programmes, such as the development of indicators. It will also make new contributions towards the CCD for implementation in Latin America.
CCD RATIFICATION: All EU member States have ratified the CCD and the Commission will ratify it in a few weeks. FRANCE appealed to major developed countries who have not yet ratified the CCD. The US said the Senate's failure to ratify does not reflect a lack of commitment to the CCD, and said it provided US$33.5 million for CCD-relevant activities. RUSSIA will continue efforts to ratify the CCD, but stressed the need for a fifth CCD annex for Central and Eastern European States and called for negotiations to begin immediately.
GLOBAL MECHANISM: The G-77 and CHINA was pleased that the Global Mechanism (GM) will have its own resources. MAURITANIA supported a GM that offers an effective tool to provide resources for field programmes. MADAGASCAR said the GM is a necessary and appropriate tool to increase financial flows for desertification. ITALY said the GM, housed at IFAD in Rome, is the appropriate mechanism to identify innovative forms of financing. BENIN cited the difficulties in designating the GM and establishing the Committee on the Review of the Implentation of the Convention as indicators of the need to make greater efforts at participation and partnership, which has waned since Rio.
PARTICIPATION: Many speakers emphasized the CCD's bottom-up approach and need to involve all relevant actors. SWEDEN said the CCD requires the involvement of NGOs and is for the benefit of farmers and pastoralists, most of whom are women. GHANA stressed that rural people have valuable knowledge to contribute to the participatory process designed in the CCD. BURKINA FASO said the CCD is an example of a new moral ethic in international cooperation that includes the innovative principles of participation and partnership.
IMPLEMENTATION: Most speakers noted national and international efforts to combat desertification. For example, SYRIA is reducing the encroachment of marginal areas through a 95,000 hectares "Green Belt" project. MOROCCO has an information programme to promote awareness and a strategy for livestock grazing zones. CHAD highlighted an agreement between NGOs and the Ministry of Water on information and awareness raising. NEPAL has given priority to poverty elimination and sustainable development. BRAZIL referred to its regional plan of action with other Latin American countries. BURKINA FASO sponsored a national forum in July 1997 to exchange views on implementing the CCD. MADAGASCAR described its three-phase environmental action plan. ICELAND said participants at a recent meeting on rangelands agreed the evolution of the CCD could be enhanced through broad-based scientific input and the CST could benefit from the experience of the FCCC's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The PAKISTANI government is paying attention to the factors that contribute to desertification, including deforestation, mismanagement and salinization. UGANDA has prepared a draft National Action Programme (NAP) and a project proposal for its implementation. MONGOLIA has enacted a number of laws concerning land use and management practices.
ITALY outlined the southern European countries' efforts to implement common guidelines and programmes in accordance with Annex IV of the CCD. NIGER noted the strong cooperative arrangements between Africa and Asia in combating desertification and highlighted the conclusions of the second Asia-Africa Forum. CHINA noted the Ministerial Beijing Declaration. IRAN offered to host a regional level network for some of the thematic issues identified at the Beijing meeting. MOROCCO said the OSS has succeeded in developing a framework for cooperation between North and South. LIBYA stressed the need for coordination of international efforts to mobilize scientific and technical resources to combat poverty and hunger. TUNISIA has hosted meetings of African representatives to coordinate efforts.
GERMANY asked if implementation has been limited to workshops. He stressed the need to make poverty reduction the focus of cooperation.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
The COW met for 90 minutes to consider several, mainly procedural, draft decisions. COW Chair El-Ghaouth noted that decisions left pending at COP-1 would have to wait until COP-2, which could affect countries' programmes of work.
EXPRESSIONS OF GRATITUDE TO ITALY AND THE FAO: The COW adopted, by acclamation, decisions ICCD/COP(1)/L.7 and L.6.
DATE AND VENUE OF COP-2: The COW adopted the draft outline of decision ICCD/COP(1)/L.2, without naming the date or host country for COP-2. Egypt, Senegal and the African Group expect to reach agreement by Wednesday morning, 8 October. El-Ghaouth said the date also would depend on the associated UN Organization.
PHYSICAL LOCATION OF THE PERMANENT SECRETARIAT: Draft decision ICCD/COP(1)/L.4 accepts the offer of Germany to host the Secretariat in Bonn and highlights follow-up steps for the Executive Secretary. The EU proposed text stating that the Executive Secretary acts "for and on behalf of the UN Organization." The EU also preferred relocation close to but prior to 1 January 1999, and not after that date. The Chair noted that relocation is dependent on the readiness of the host government and subject to receipt by the Secretariat of two contracts from the UN Organization. He said a letter of appreciation to Switzerland would also be needed. The EU said it needed to consult on the text, which was adopted ad referendum.
PROGRAMME OF WORK OF THE COP: On decision ICCD/COP(1)/L.5, the EU asked whether the programme and budget decision would be for one or two years. El-Ghaouth said it is a standing item on the COP agenda and elaborated using the precedent of the FCCC. The EU revised the introductions to subparagraphs 3 (a) and (b). The decision was adopted ad referendum.
INTERIM ARRANGEMENTS: Decision ICCD/COP(1)/L.3 stipulates a number of tasks for the UN Secretary-General, including the appointment of the Head of the Secretariat. The EU said payment for conference services should be discussed under Programme and Budget because budgetary issues have to be presented as a package. The position and title were left pending.
SUPPLEMENTARY FUND AND SPECIAL FUND: The decision (ICCD/COP(1)/L.10) mandates the establishment of two Funds for various Convention purposes. PANAMA suggested revising text so as not to specify the number of NGOs to be supported. New text was added to subparagraph 2(b) to ensure funds are used for "relevant articles of the regional implementation annexes."
RELATIONS WITH THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT FACILITY: The decision (ICCD/COP(1)/L.12) welcomes the determination by the GEF Council to finance land degradation activities and invites it to report to the COP on matters relating to the issue. Adoption of the decision was deferred to allow the EU to consult.
DRAFT DECISION ON BEHALF OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN COUNTRIES: The draft decision makes four proposals, including the adoption of agreements made by the Region's Parties at their meetings and requests the Executive Secretary to provide the support required for the regional action programme and coordinating mechanism. Discussions centred around the possibility of other regions submitting similar decisions and the need for clarity about the decisions the Parties would be making. The matter was deferred to allow for EU consultations.
EXTRABUDGETARY FUNDS: The decision (ICCD/COP(1)/L.11) deals with extrabudgetary funds for the Secretariat for 1998. At the EU's request, the decision was deferred to enable a small group to negotiate the decision.
ESTIMATES FOR THE OPERATING EXPENSES OF THE GM: Decision ICCD/COP(1)/L.13 notes that the expenses of the GM in 1999 are missing in the proposed budget and programme (ICCD/COP(1)/5) and requests the Executive Secretary to submit budget estimates to COP-2. The decision was deferred pending conclusion of on-going informal consultations on the GM.
IN THE CORRIDORS
Some agreement was reached in the informal discussions on the Global Mechanism on Tuesday afternoon, 7 October. The agreed text in the two decisions refers to: the importance of the collaboration between the three organizations, IFAD, UNDP and the World Bank; the transitory measures to ensure the GM starts functioning as soon as possible; and the relationship between the COP and the GM, where the Secretariat is mandated to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding with the hosting organizations. Delegates observed that what remains is the choice of the institution to house the Mechanism, either IFAD or UNDP. Apparently, the dilemma is the selection procedure, by vote or by consensus. Many delegates felt this was an important matter and stressed the need to not postpone the decision until COP-2. Look for the two draft decisions on the GM.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
PLENARY: Thirty-eight statements are expected during morning and afternoon meetings of the High-Level Segment.
COW: The COW is expected to meet at 10:00 am to consider the pending draft decisions.