INCD Chair Bo Kjell�n (Sweden) opened the session on Monday morning, 6 January 1997. He noted with satisfaction that the Convention had entered into force since the last INCD session. The programme of work and agenda (A/AC.241/62) were adopted. The Plenary was then adjourned until Tuesday afternoon so that regional groups could meet.
When the Plenary reconvened, Under-Secretary-General Nitin Desai, UN Department of Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development, said that the CCD deals with core development issues, provides the opportunity to integrate environment and development at the point at which action takes place and provides a test case of our capacity to implement the ambitious programmes that are negotiated at the international level.
Chair Kjell�n noted that the CCD had entered into force on 26 December 1996, 90 days after the 50th ratification by Chad. He noted that the central issues at this session were: the functioning and host organization of the Global Mechanism; the work programme, budget and role of the Permanent Secretariat; and the enabling of the Committee on Science and Technology to meet in conjunction with COP-1. Kjell�n pointed out the link between the INCD process and the meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development in April, and the UN Special Session of the General Assembly for review of the implementation of Agenda 21, to be held in June.
Salif Diallo, Minister of Environment and Water of Burkina Faso, noted that action in Africa had been slow, but said that African ministries were committed to implementing the CCD. He urged developed countries to raise awareness about the CCD and called for the realization of the spirit of partnership in the Convention. He also highlighted the importance of the Global Mechanism. Without it, the CCD would lose its innovative character and sisterhood with the Conventions on Biodiversity and Climate Change.
Mongolias Minister of Nature and the Environment, Tsohiogiin Adyasuren, noted the importance of the World Food Summit, which was held in November 1996, and emphasized the strong link between poverty alleviation, food security issues and desertification. In Mongolia, combatting desertification, biodiversity and decentralization are being dealt with in an integrated manner.
INCD Executive Secretary Hama Arba Diallo said 60 countries have acceded to or ratified the Convention. He updated delegates regarding preparatory measures and national and subregional action in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Thirty African countries are already at work establishing national frameworks. An Asian regional meeting will take place in Beijing in May 1997.
The Assistant Administrator and Director of UNDPs Regional Bureau for Africa, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, highlighted aspects of UNDPs CCD-related support. She said the Global Mechanism should be viewed as a flexible and dynamic instrument that can be used by the Parties to anticipate emerging and changing priorities. She reiterated UNDPs readiness to host the Global Mechanism, or any other hosting arrangement that may be decided upon.
IFADs Assistant President, Economic Policy and Resource Strategy Department, Shigeaki Tomita, reviewed IFADs CCD-related activities. He said IFAD has been supporting the establishment of enabling frameworks at the local level and that investment in research and technology transfer for the drylands has become an increasingly significant part of IFADs operations. He said the Global Mechanism must go beyond a clearing house function to actively solicit and facilitate the participation of financing institutions and the private sector in implementing the Convention. The IFAD Executive Board has taken note of the possibility that IFAD might be called upon to consider a more detailed proposal from the INCD.
Tanzania, on behalf of the G-77 and China, stated that the test of the partnership called for in the CCD lies in the mobilization of sufficient financial resources, provision of new and additional funding, and the transfer of ecologically sound technologies. Comparing the CCD to the Conventions on Biological Diversity and Climate Change, he stated that the CCD should not be relegated to a second-class convention. Thus, establishing a global financial mechanism for the CCD, with interest and priority equal to the GEF, will place the CCD on a par with the other two conventions.
The Netherlands, on behalf of the EU, along with Cyprus, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Iceland, was pleased that the Convention had entered into force. All the necessary preparations for the implementation of the CCD should be made before the UN Special Session in June 1997.
On behalf of the International NGO Network on Desertification (RIOD), Michael Angstreich of the Norwegian Forum for Environment and Development stressed that past efforts to mitigate desertification were negatively influenced by: the minimal allocation of resources by national governments to environmental programmes; a legacy of colonial legislation; the introduction of market economies through economic structural adjustment programmes; and limited participation by local populations. He pointed out that partnership-building processes have not even started in many countries and stated that the Global Mechanism can ensure a result-oriented implementation of the CCD.
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