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CHAPTER 12: COMBATTING DESERTIFICATION AND DROUGHT

This chapter addresses the importance of combatting desertification and drought by implementing preventative measures for lands that are not yet degraded as well as by restoring already degraded or drought-prone lands. Two non-finance paragraphs were bracketed and both dealt with a future binding convention on desertification. When these paragraphs first came up for discussion by the Main Committee, Tommy Koh announced that he would conduct consultations on this issue. Initially the US did not support the G-77's call for a global convention on desertification. However, midway through Koh's consultations, the US changed its position and accepted the idea of an international desertification convention to be convened by 1994, aimed at benefitting those countries facing serious drought and desertification.

When this "compromise" text was brought to the Main Committee, however, Portugal, on behalf of the EC, announced it could not accept this text, arguing that desertification is a regional problem not necessarily warranting global action. This resulted in a flurry of statements from developed and developing countries alike offering their support for Koh's compromise and pleading with the EC to accept it. Much of the anger and surprise in the room was due to the fact that the EC had not opposed the idea of a global desertification convention during Koh's consultations. Koh then adjourned the meeting for 45 minutes while numerous consultations were held. Finally, Portugal announced it would accept the wording proposed by the Chair and will support the request for a desertification convention.

The resulting chapter has six programme areas: Strengthening the knowledge base and developing information and monitoring systems for regions prone to desertification and drought; Combating land degradation through, inter alia, soil conservation, afforestation and reforestation activities; Developing and strengthening integrated development programmes for the eradication of poverty and promotion of alternative livelihood systems in areas prone to desertification; Developing comprehensive anti-desertification programmes and integrating them into national development and environment planning; Developing comprehensive drought preparedness and drought-relief schemes; and Encouraging and promoting popular participation and environmental education.

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