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This page was updated on: 10 December 2003
A Brief Introduction to the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD)

 

Summary: Delegates to the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) recommended the establishment of an intergovernmental negotiating committee for the elaboration of an international convention to combat desertification in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa (INCD). The UN General Assembly established such a committee in 1992. The INCD drafted the Convention and four regional Annexes for Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Northern Mediterranean during five meetings between May 1993 and June 1994. The Convention to Combat Desertification was adopted on 17 June 1994 and was opened for signature in October 1994 in Paris. Three months following the receipt of its 50th ratification, the Convention entered into force on 26 December 1996. The first Conference of the Parties (COP) met in September/October 1997. Among the decisions taken at that meeting was the location of the Permanent Secretariat: Bonn, Germany. A fifth regional Annex, for Eastern and Central Europe, was subsequently adopted at COP-4 in 2000. One CCD subsidiary body, the Committee on Science and Technology (CST), was established with the Convention’s adoption. It advises and meets simultaneously with the COP. A second subsidiary body, the Committee for the Review of Implementation of the Convention (CRIC), was established at COP-5 in 2001. As of December 2003, 190 countries or regional economic integration organizations had ratified, acceded to or accepted the Convention. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin has provided coverage on all of the INCD, COP, CST and CRIC proceedings (ENB CCD Archives). The following discussion elaborates on the CCD’s focus and evolution.

 

CCD Focus: The Convention recognizes: the physical, biological and socioeconomic aspects of desertification; the importance of redirecting technology transfer so that it is demand driven; and the involvement of local populations. The core of the CCD is the development of national and subregional/regional action programmes by national governments in cooperation with donors, local populations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The purpose of using an innovative “bottom-up” approach, by involving people who are affected by desertification in decision-making, is to facilitate effective implementation of the Convention. A sign of the CCD’s commitment to the bottom-up approach was the COP-1 invitation for NGOs to organize a Plenary dialogue with delegates on building partnerships for the CCD. COP-1 delegates adopted a decision calling for Plenary meetings at future COPs to be devoted to similar NGO dialogues.

 

Negotiation of the Convention: In 1992, the UN General Assembly, as requested by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), adopted resolution 47/188 calling for the establishment of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for the elaboration of an international convention to combat desertification in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa (INCD). At the organizational session of the INCD in January 1993, delegates elected Ambassador Bo Kjellén (Sweden) as Chair of the Committee. The INCD met five times between May 1993 and June 1994, during which delegates drafted the Convention and four regional Annexes for Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Northern Mediterranean. The Convention was adopted on 17 June 1994, along with resolutions recommending urgent action for Africa and interim arrangements for the period between adoption of the CCD and its entry into force.

 

The Interim Period: Pending the Convention’s entry into force, the INCD met six times between January 1995 and August 1997 to hear progress reports on urgent action taking place in Africa and interim measures in other regions, and to prepare for COP-1. The preparations included discussion of issues such as the Secretariat’s programme and budget, the functions of and administrative arrangements for the Global Mechanism, the physical location of the Permanent Secretariat and the establishment of the Committee on Science and Technology. Progress was made, especially on scientific and technological cooperation, but the size and membership of the COP Bureau were left for COP-1 to decide, as were questions about the host institutions and some functions of the Global Mechanism.

 

Three months following the receipt of its 50th ratification, the Convention entered into force on 26 December 1996. By the first day of COP-1 (30 September 1997), 113 countries had submitted instruments of ratification.

 

The First Conference of the Parties (COP-1) to the Convention to Combat Desertification met in Rome, Italy, from 29 September to 10 October 1997. The CST held its first session simultaneously on 2 - 3 October. One hundred and two States submitted their instruments of ratification by the requisite date and participated as Parties to the Convention. The COP-1 and CST-1 agendas contained primarily organizational matters. Delegates selected Bonn, Germany, as the location for the Permanent Secretariat and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) as the organization to administer the Global Mechanism. They agreed that the Mechanism could guide and channel resources mobilized through bilateral and multilateral sources to activities, programmes and projects in the field and use its own resources mobilized through a trust fund and/or similar arrangement for specified functions. At the CST’s recommendation, the COP established an ad hoc panel to oversee the continuation of the process of surveying benchmarks and indicators. Five Plenary meetings were devoted to a High-Level Segment and one to a dialogue between NGOs and delegates on building partnerships for the CCD. Argentina’s proposal that Plenary meetings at future COPs be devoted to similar NGO dialogues was also adopted.

 

Delegates to the Second Conference of the Parties (COP-2) met in Dakar, Senegal, from 30 November to 11 December 1998. The Committee on Science and Technology (CST) met in parallel to the COP from 1 to 4 December. Delegates approved arrangements for the institutional linkage between the Convention and the UN Secretariat and the headquarters agreement with the Government of Germany. The COP approved adjustments to its budget and adopted the outstanding rules of procedure concerning bureau members, but retained bracketed language regarding majority voting absent consensus. Eastern and Central European countries were invited to submit to COP-3 a draft regional implementation annex. The CST established an ad hoc panel to follow-up its discussion on links between traditional and modern knowledge. COP-2 delegates considered, but deferred to COP-3, decisions on the Secretariat�s medium-term strategy, adoption of the Memorandum of Understanding between the COP and IFAD regarding the Global Mechanism, and the G-77/China proposal to establish a Committee on the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC). Late- starts on both the UNEP-led survey and evaluation of existing networks and the operation of the Global Mechanism, called for by COP-1, precluded substantive discussions on these first fruits of the CST�s and COP�s deliberations.

 

Delegates to the Third Conference of the Parties (COP-3) met in Recife, Brazil, from 15-26 November 1999. The Committee on Science and Technology (CST) met in parallel to the COP from 16-19 November. Delegates approved the long-negotiated Memorandum of Understanding between the COP and IFAD regarding the Convention�s Global Mechanism and decided to consider the operational strategy of the GM at COP-4. COP-3 created ad hoc panels to undertake intersessional work to facilitate the CST�s consideration of traditional knowledge and early warning systems and established an ad hoc working group (AHWG) to review and analyze the reports on national, subregional and regional action programmes (NAPs, SRAPs and RAPs) to draw conclusions and propose concrete recommendations on further steps in the implementation of the Convention. Delegates also agreed to continue consultations on the additional draft regional implementation annex for Eastern and Central Europe, with a view to adopting it at COP-4. They noted the need for a declaration on the commitments to enhance implementation of the Convention and decided to invite proposals for the formulation of such a declaration for consideration and adoption at COP-4.

 

CCD Parties met from 11-22 December 2000 in Bonn, Germany for the Fourth Conference of the Parties (COP-4). The CST met in tandem with the COP from 12-15 December. The Conference�s notable achievements were the adoption of the fifth regional annex for Eastern and Central Europe, commencement of work by the ad hoc working group (AHWG) to review CCD implementation, initiation of the consideration of modalities for the establishment of a committee to review implementation of the Convention (CRIC), submission of proposals to improve the work of the CST, and the adoption of a decision on the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council initiative to explore the best options for GEF support for CCD implementation. Delegates also decided to hold a resumed session to conclude the work of the AHWG before COP-5.

 

The AHWG met in a three-week session in Bonn, Germany, from 19 March - 6 April 2001, with attendance by participants from over 170 countries. The AHWG reviewed 114 national and subregional reports and discussed new strategies and policy frameworks, the implementation review process, the financial mechanism for the CCD, and cooperation between regions. Developing countries reiterated the need to open a GEF window for funding the implementation of the CCD and called for the establishment of a consultative mechanism at the country level to conclude partnership arrangements. Developed country Parties outlined their efforts to support the implementation process and made proposals for further improvements.

 

The Fifth Conference of the Parties (COP-5) took place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 1-13 October 2001. COP-5 focused on setting the modalities of work for the two-year interval before the next COP. Delegates established the Committee for the Review of Implementation of the Convention (CRIC), identified modalities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the CST, and supported a proposal by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to designate land degradation as another focal area for funding.

 

The first meeting of the CCD�s Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC-1) convened from 11-22 November 2002 at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome, Italy. During the first week, delegates heard case study presentations from the five CCD regions, addressing seven thematic issues: participatory processes involving civil society, NGOs and community-based organizations; legislative and institutional frameworks or arrangements; linkages and synergies with other environmental conventions and, as appropriate, with national development strategies; measures for the rehabilitation of degraded land, drought and desertification monitoring and assessment; early warning systems for mitigating the effects of drought; access by affected country Parties, particularly affected developing country Parties, to appropriate technology, knowledge and know-how; and resource mobilization and coordination, both domestic and international, including conclusions of partnership agreements. During the second week, CRIC-1 delegates engaged in an interactive dialogue on lessons learned and made recommendations for the Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean Regions, and the Northern Mediterranean and Central and Eastern European Regions and Other Affected Parties. A drafting group also negotiated �conclusions and concrete recommendations on further steps in the implementation of the CCD,� which were forwarded to COP-6.

 

The Sixth Conference of the Parties (COP-6) took place at the Palacio de Convenciones in Havana, Cuba. The meeting commenced on 25 August and concluded on 6 September 2003. In addition to informal consultations and plenary sessions of the Committee of the Whole (COW), CST and the CRIC, participants engaged in two open dialogue sessions with NGOs and governments and a High Level Special Segment that adopted the �Havana Declaration of Heads of State.� Progress was made on a number of issues including: the designation of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) as a financial mechanism of the CCD; activities for the promotion and strengthening of relationships with other relevant conventions and international organizations, institutions and agencies; enhancing the effectiveness of the CST; and follow-up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).