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WELCOMING STATEMENTS

Franklin Cardy, the deputy executive director of UNEP, spoke on behalf of UNEP Executive Director Elizabeth Dowdeswell, who was unable to attend. Cardy mentioned that there are 9,000 million people in 100 countries exposed to desertification and billions of dollars are spent treating the consequences. He said that land degradation is caused by humans, but exacerbated by climate. Those most affected are overworked peasant farmers and women whose priorities are to feed their families. There is a need to support these farmers so that their land use is sustainable and not destructive. He added that community-based activities have generally been the most effective at combatting land degradation. He urged the delegates to negotiate a successful convention.

INCD Chair Kjell‚n said that the delegates were beginning both a new venture and a new adventure as these negotiations will have to find innovative solutions to the problems of desertification and drought. He stated that they need to set a standard of short statements, clear negotiating goals and results, as they owe this to the people who live in areas suffering from desertification. They do not know the INCD, but the INCD will have an impact on them, he added. He hoped that the spirit of Rio and the perception of the drylands problem as a global concern will carry the negotiations through. He wants to have a consolidated text of the convention available by the end of the year. He said that the convention and the protocol for Africa should serve as a firm basis and a platform for a continuing process, including other regional protocols. He expressed hope that there will be rapid signatures, beginning at the 49th General Assembly in 1994, and a prompt start to the Convention.

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