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ELABORATION OF THE CONVENTION

OAU: The representative of the OAU explained how numerous national and regional plans of action to combat desertification have not been effective due to a lack of financial resources. He said this Convention should be an expression of solidarity and partnership and aimed at the implementation of local and global strategies.

DENMARK: On behalf of the EC, Denmark stated since desertification is mainly caused by human activity, solutions and prevention strategies must focus on the local level. He stressed: harmonization of efforts; capacity building; cooperation in research and technology development; the role of women; and a bottom-up approach. The EC doubts that the case studies will provide a useful basis for programme models. Parties should make commitments that can be effectively implemented and easily monitored.

FRANCE: The delegate mentioned that the commitments are not conditions and drew attention to the number of failures in the past. He said the definition provided for in Agenda 21 should suffice, but that social and economic aspects should take precedence over climatic issues.

BRAZIL: The delegate said the definition provided in Agenda 21 should not include the humid and sub-humid regions or any forest issues. He said financial mechanisms and transfer of technology should be discussed. The Climate Change and Biodiversity Conventions should be considered. The content should encompass socio-economic issues linked to desertification. Policies should be inter-disciplinary and should support local communities.

MALAYSIA: The delegate stressed that all definitions in the Convention should not include forests, unless they are located in drylands. She stated that the process of combatting desertification will not gain momentum unless external debt, poverty and economic growth are addressed. Malaysia does not want the INCD to initiate parallel negotiations on protocols, as these should be left to the Conference of Parties. There should be caution taken when discussing linkages with other conventions. Desertification poses a direct challenge to the concept of sustainable development, which is a luxury that the poor cannot afford.

GERMANY: The delegate stated that this Convention will have to be judged by how it contributes to solving people's problems. He stated that there is no need for general principles as the Convention's goals should be as concrete as possible. He added that the INCD should not duplicate work of other conventions and UN bodies. Procedures for the elaboration of national and regional action programmes should be the centerpiece. He supported the use of existing financial mechanisms.

SUDAN: The delegate said that desertification and drought is not only a technical problem, but it is caused by social, economic and political factors, including: the state of the world economy, commodity prices, misplaced aid, population growth, refugees, and land mismanagement.

THE NETHERLANDS: The delegate said the overall objective is to combat desertification and three immediate objectives should be: define government commitments; facilitate strategies at all levels; and determine how to monitor the commitments. The Convention should identify the elements that are "conventionable" and place specific areas of work in protocols and regional efforts in annexes. The content should include population growth and migration as it relates to the role of women, their health needs and maternal benefits.

CHINA: The delegate said the solution to desertification is a change in human behavior and desertification can be curbed where all forces of society are mobilized. However, policies should ensure economic sectors in the regions are developed and that people have access to scientific knowledge. He said technology transfer should be included, but that success is dependent on financial support.

ITALY: The delegate stressed the importance of binding the future convention to Agenda 21 and General Assembly resolution 47/188. He emphasized the roles of local communities, NGOs, governments, and regional organizations. An essential objective should be to coordinate data collection and related programmes. He stated the importance of the dispute settlement mechanisms.

KENYA: The delegate stated that local communities must participate in decision making. He said that the Convention should address issues such as food security, institutional strengthening, financial resources and mechanisms, technology transfer, and strengthening regional cooperation. All programmes should be self-sustaining in the long term.

UNITED KINGDOM: The delegate listed 11 points, including: focus on the causes of desertification at the local level; emphasize causes rather than effects; emphasize specific commitments; avoid duplication of provisions of other conventions; distinguish between the commitments needed by affected and unaffected countries; avoid issues, such as international trade and debt, that are addressed in other fora; and data collection must not become an end in itself. He said that the hasty preparation of the case studies seems to be inconsistent with the principles of bottom-up community-led initiatives. The INCD should examine the impacts of existing funds and not rely solely on the GEF.

FINLAND: The delegate favors a holistic and integrated approach that includes: local participation; the utilization of indigenous knowledge; the role of women; institutional capacity building; information collection and networking; access to all levels of research; and the sustainable use of forests. The Convention should cover all regions, with special emphasis on Africa. Annexes should be negotiated at the same time as the main body. The INCD should borrow from existing conventions but only to a limited extent.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: The delegate described the problems his country has with refugees from countries experiencing desertification and said the Convention should take into account needs for both prevention and mitigation.

TANZANIA: The delegate described drought and desertification in Tanzania and efforts to resolve the crises. He expressed concern about the overlapping and duplication of plans. Tanzania's national debt of US$5 billion (more than 500% of GNP) does not allow for the national resources to combat desertification. The Convention should favor local participation, the restructuring of the world economy, debt relief, fair trade, and new and additional resources.

AUSTRIA: The delegate said the Convention should support work at the community level and should have a short preamble that reflects the global view on sustainable development and covers poverty issues. Principles should come from the Rio Declaration. Other important issues are: demand-led research and data collection; transfer of technology; capacity building; South-South cooperation; education; and provisions for dispute resolution. Further work should cover the problem of environmental refugees.

NIGERIA: Chapter 12 of Agenda 21 and the experiences of the PACD form an appropriate framework for the Convention. Combatting desertification means: preventing desertification in dryland areas; rehabilitating drylands; and ensuring the effective management of drylands. Initial Convention funding should be done through the GEF and he cited Agenda 21 that states that the GEF is available as a funding mechanism for conventions.

BELGIUM: The delegate said that they must elaborate a Convention that addresses all forms of desertification on all continents, while giving special attention to Africa. He emphasized the need to improve natural resource management through restoring the balance between human and animal populations. The Convention must include local participation and a bottom-up approach. Coordination should be at the local and national levels with adequate capacity building. The best use of resources is at the regional and sub-regional levels, and local communities must be strengthened.

AUSTRALIA: The delegate stated that the INCD should develop a framework convention, reflecting relevant sections of Agenda 21 and other international agreements. Issues such as trade should not be debated here, but the links should be recognized. Australia mentioned: the need to look at local knowledge; the role and rights of indigenous people; the role of women; coordination of existing programmes; NGO involvement in the negotiations; the importance of monitoring provisions; and any reference to the GEF should take into account its restructuring.

UNITED STATES: The delegate stressed the need for improved coordination and cooperation. He proposed, as an intermediate measure, that the INCD adopt a resolution asking UN agencies to focus on the problem and requesting them to report on their activities at the January session. He mentioned: the need for capacity building at the local level; better use of existing financial mechanisms; and work on the framework convention and annexes should proceed at the same pace and in coordination with each other.

ARGENTINA: The delegate mentioned: strengthening funding for applied research, including the socio-economic aspects; supporting studies of farming practices to control desertification; alternative energy sources to diminish wood use; promotion of legislation to protect soil; and better coordination between agencies.

MEXICO: For Mexico, desertification and land degradation is a political issue as it relates to socio-economic and environmental factors. He suggested that there is no time for a gradual region-by-region approach, and that topics, themes or sectors should be in annexes. Mexico supports Agenda 21 and the Chapter 12 programme areas that should be developed over time with international financing.

SWEDEN: The delegate stressed the need for concrete action at the local level that incorporates the crucial role of women. She said that she did not see any new window for projects against desertification within the GEF. In addition to existing funding, there is a need to find additional sources from IDA, the World Bank and the regional development banks. She stated that global commitments should be the same for all participants.

NIGER: The delegate said that the problem merits global treatment and the international community must show solidarity with the regions affected, within a legal framework. There should be special treatment for those areas stricken through protocols of operation or annexes. International cooperation cannot be abstract and mechanisms must be created to ensure implementation of the Convention.

GAMBIA: The delegate said that the Committee should adopt an open-ended attitude regarding new technologies. The definition of desertification in Agenda 21 is not sacrosanct and could be revisited. The commitments in the Convention should be in the form of exchanges between countries such as information, financial and human resources.

NORWAY: The delegate said the Convention should avoid duplication of other organizations' work. She proposed the establishment of a scientific panel to provide alternative definitions and document lessons learned from past efforts. The Convention should: pay special attention to countries seriously affected by desertification through annexes; focus on preventive measures; include capacity-building for food security; and tap into appropriate technologies from developing countries. Existing avenues for regular development assistance should be utilized.

MADAGASCAR: The delegate explained the importance of including land degradation issues and the centrality of women in the Convention.

INDONESIA: The delegate mentioned that while industrialized nations have the resources and appropriate technology to combat desertification, the developing nations do not. He added that there is a need for more sustainable patterns of production and consumption.

BURKINA FASO: The delegate stressed that Africa should be emphasized in the Convention. The participation of communities is effective but difficult and should emphasize: decentralization; the rational management of resources; training; and an administrative unit for environmental programmes. Other issues include trade, alternative energy sources, foreign debt and preventive measures.

GHANA: The delegate said the consensus language provided in Agenda 21 should provide a basis to discuss the Convention but emphasized the need to provide a clear definition so clear objectives can then be identified. He said the Convention should be built on the strengths of the local people who possess immense wisdom.

TUNISIA: The delegate said this is a crucial question for Tunisia and that it is urgent to have an international instrument. There is a need to strengthen the volume of financial resources to find the sustainable answers for countries without means. He suggested debt recycling as a possible solution and endorsed Chapter 12 of Agenda 21.

NGOS: KENGO presented a statement prepared by NGOs. The issues to be covered are: biodiversity and climate change; the inequitable distribution of resources; trade patterns; external debt; and colonial, post-independence political economies. She emphasized the need for community-led programmes, particularly targeting women, supported by multi-level programmes, and appropriate technology developed from indigenous knowledge systems and science. Adjustment to risk and coping mechanisms are essential. She said NGOs should be considered equal partners, due to their role of mobilizing communities.

TURKMENISTAN: The representative spoke of the regional efforts needed to rehabilitate the Aral Sea. He said that case studies were needed for both Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan and that a regional meeting should be convened.

ZAMBIA: The priorities for Zambia in combatting desertification are: improved land-use management; protection of watersheds; control of rapid population growth; drawing up a master water plan; community forestry and agroforestry; people's participation; and networking between government and NGOs.

JORDAN: The delegate made a brief presentation on salinity and drought in Jordan and his country's strategies to overcome these problems. He said emphasis should be placed on local activities and efforts, since desertification starts with the users. The preamble should cover immigration as a cause of desertification.

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