TANZANIA: Amb. Daudi N. Mwakawago welcomed the adoption and signature of the Convention and expressed hope that it will enter into force without delay. Tanzania believes that the international community has the ability to avert the catastrophe of desertification and drought, as was demonstrated in Eastern and Southern Africa two years ago. The fight against desertification must be an integral part of socio-economic development programmes aimed at satisfying people's immediate and long-term needs. The international community should take measures to reduce the excessive burden of debt on developing countries and to check deteriorating rates of exchange and improve international economic relations so as to increase and maintain the quality of life. Particular attention should be directed at increasing financial and technical assistance to help poor developing countries implement their strategies for development of arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid zones. The international community, together with international and sub-regional organizations, should mobilize the existing network of institutions, agencies and bodies in order to effectively organize the gathering, analysis and distribution of data in the observation and forecasting of drought and desertification. He urged the developed countries, along with international and multilateral institutions, to provide support for the implementation of the resolution on urgent action for Africa.
SUDAN: The representative said that the considerable political commitment achieved in Rio still engages the attention of the international community, particularly the developing countries. Sudan participated in the negotiations of the Convention to Combat Desertification in all its phases, including the signing ceremony in Paris, and attaches great hope to the Convention. Sudan has established a supreme council on environment and natural resources to implement the Convention. Widespread grassroots reforestation campaigns are currently underway to combat desertification. While Sudan welcomes the Convention, there is concern that it will remain a "dead letter" if it does not have the necessary financing.
PHILIPPINES: The representative said that the number of signatures testifies to the Convention's importance and acceptance. Subregional, regional and international collaboration is essential to mitigate the effects of drought. Countries in South Asia suffering from drought should have been considered as affected countries under the Convention. The prevention of drought helps prevent land degradation and desertification. The Philippines will pursue this issue at the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties. The Philippines joined the Convention in the hope that drought-affected countries in South Asia will not be left out of the Convention.
PAKISTAN: Mir Mushtaq Ali Talpur said that the signing of the Convention in Paris is proof that the international community is committed to dealing with drought and desertification. Failure to deal with these problems accelerates impoverishment of the populations in dry lands and exacerbates famine and drought relief, thereby diverting resources from addressing long-term development issues. In Pakistan, land erosion and desertification have brought misery to those affected and has led to rural-urban migration. Pakistan hopes that the implementation of the Convention will help the Africans in their efforts to alleviate some of their economic problems, which are the direct result of desertification and drought. Substantial new and additional resources are needed since nearly US$22 billion will be required annually for the next 20 years to finance the rehabilitation of land and halt the decline in fertility. Adequate technology and know- how are also critical. Pakistan has undertaken its own remedial measures, including reforestation and the digging of tube-wells. He welcomed the decision that UNSO will now deal with the needs of all countries facing drought and desertification.
JAPAN: Amb. Shunji Maruyama announced that Japan signed the Convention in Paris. The focus must now shift to prompt ratification, entry into force and implementation. To assist Africa in implementing the Convention, Japan has increased its development assistance in a wide range of areas from healthcare and sanitation to human resources development. Japan has increased the cooperation it has provided to UNDP, the African Development Bank and the World Bank. Japan has also announced a plan to increase ODA for environmental projects from US$7 billion to US$7.7 billion over the five-year period from 1992 through 1996. The African Programme for the Supply of Potable Water provides grant aid for the development of groundwater and water-supply systems. Approximately US$250 to US$300 million in such aid has been allocated for fiscal years 1993 through 1995. To assist in the implementation of the Convention, Japan will: strengthen the dialogue it conducts with affected countries on whether projects carried out with Japanese ODA are actually helping to combat desertification; dispatch survey missions to countries severely affected, particularly in Africa, to clarify needs in the field; and be actively involved in the development of programmes of action in the most affected countries.
CHINA: The representative said that almost half of China's population lives under the threat of desertification. The Chinese Government has put enormous human and material resources to combatting desertification and hopes that the international community will help them combat desertification more effectively. The rights and obligations under this Convention are not balanced between developed and developing countries. The shortage of financial resources is a major element in the lack of desertification prevention. This will cast a cloud over the implementation of this Convention. He urged the international community to help developing countries with financial resources and technology to assure implementation of the Convention.
BRAZIL: On behalf of the Rio Group (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela), Amb. Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg noted that desertification and drought affects 75% of the land surface in Latin America. Out of 200 million poor in Latin America, 40 million are poor because they live in desertified areas. Major amounts of resources and international cooperation are needed to combat desertification. The Rio Group recognizes that the problem is of extreme importance in Africa and stresses the need for preventive measures. Many developed countries are departing from the Spirit of Rio and the concept of shared but differentiated responsibilities. The Climate Change and Biodiversity Conventions contain broader commitments with regard to the transfer of technology and finance. Political will is needed to break the cycle of drought, desertification and poverty.
THE GAMBIA: The representative said that The Gambia has suffered from extreme periods of drought and expansion of the Sahara Desert. Serious efforts to combat desertification through allocation of greater resources have yielded results, but have not arrested the situation. Africa remains the most affected region in the world. The Gambia will continue to review and improve its national action programmes and coordinate its efforts with other parties at the regional and subregional levels, however, more financial and technical resources are needed. The success of the global mechanism will be based on the contribution of the parties. He called on the international community to cooperate in the implementation of the Convention. He also expressed support for the adoption of a resolution to enable the secretariat to function during the interim period.
SENEGAL: Amb. Kba Birane Ciss said the negotiation of this Convention was an African initiative that the international community joined. The global dimension of desertification and drought is now a fact and priority is now recognized for Africa. The innovations introduced by the Convention include that action will be carried out at all levels with the participation of the populations concerned, as well as intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. Only concrete results in the field will allow measurement of success. Sufficient financial and technical resources are needed, however, the bilateral and multilateral commitments announced at the signing ceremony are promising.
UNITED STATES: Herman Gallegos said that the US signed the Convention in Paris and has been among its strongest supporters since the beginning. The US has identified US$500 million in current or planned projects that can be utilized to support the Convention. With regard to urgent action for Africa, he said that African countries have to decide how they will use the Convention to meet their own anti-desertification plans and programmes. With regard to future INCD meetings, the US believes that there is no longer a need for a two-week meeting in January and a two-week meeting in May. He called for reducing the January meeting to one week, cancelling the May meeting and postponing a decision on meetings in 1996 until the January session. With regard to the responsibilities of the secretariat, the US believes that the secretariat's role can not be broader than the provisions in Article 23. The secretariat should not assume the burden of reviewing preparation of action programmes and other activities under the urgent action resolution.
ETHIOPIA: The representative urged countries that have not signed the Convention to do so as soon as possible and those countries that have signed the Convention should expedite the ratification process. He appealed to partners in developed countries to make available adequate, timely and predictable financial resources and technical assistance, especially for the least developed and African countries. It is imperative to ensure effective participation of developing countries during the interim period. He also called for contributions to the voluntary fund. Ethiopia has finalized a national conservation strategy and a forestry action programme, which includes the participation of people at all levels. The secretariat for the Convention should be located in Africa and its location should be the subject of discussion at the first Conference of the Parties.
KENYA: Amb. Francis K. Muthaura hoped the ratification process would be completed as soon as possible so that the Convention can enter into force. A critical element in the success of the strategy is the financial mechanism, with the emphasis on multiple-source financing. The concrete responses that the Convention will be able to attract from donor countries and international organizations will determine the impact of the Convention on local efforts to combat desertification and achieve sustainable development. He supported the call for two interim meetings each in 1995 and 1996 and one meeting in 1997. He called for more contributions to the voluntary fund to help delegations participate in the work of the INCD during the interim period.
BOTSWANA: Constance Mompei noted that socio-economic factors, including an unevenly distributed but rapidly growing population, concentrated livestock rearing activities and poor arable farming practices aggravate the already vulnerable landscape of Botswana. In 1990, the Government established the Botswana National Conservation Strategy Agency that aims to increase the effectiveness of natural resources management and integrate the work of the many sectoral ministries and interest groups throughout Botswana. Regional cooperation is essential and Botswana has started to consult with its neighbors to prepare the Kgalagadi/ Namib Action Plan to combat desertification.
BURKINA FASO: The representative said the Convention ensures a balance between the globality of desertification and the specific nature of certain regions. Burkina Faso has put together a national environmental programme. While Africa is not the only place affected by desertification, it is the most serious. Only a joint strategy in combatting desertification can be considered as a beginning. The necessary resources must be provided and the institutional, financial and follow-up machinery must become available as soon as possible.
ORGANIZATION OF AFRICAN UNITY: The representative welcomed the completion of the Convention. The effects of desertification and drought in Africa must be checked if the continent is to have a firm basis for sustainable development. The Convention is unique because of its concern for the establishment of action plans through a participatory process and its encouragement of the integration of action programmes with policies for sustainable development. The Convention will be meaningful only if it is effectively and promptly implemented. He called on the international community to ratify and implement the Convention.
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