ORGANIZATION OF WORK: The Chair, Anne de Lattre, proposed the organization of work and the topics to be addressed: definitions; technology transfer and cooperation; research and development; information collection, analysis and exchange; institutions; regional instruments and procedures; and final clauses. The US suggested that discussion of the definitions be postponed, and the Working Group should start with the section on research and development. This proposal was supported by several countries, including Malaysia, Mauritania, Canada, Belgium and Australia. Belgium, on behalf of the EC, stated that the only acceptable definitions are those based on universally agreed scientific knowledge. Japan proposed that competent UN agencies such as the WMO, with the assistance of the Secretariat, should compile definitions based on Belgium's proposal for consideration at the next session of the INCD. The organization of the work was adopted and the meeting proceeded to discuss Research and Development.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: There was consensus regarding the section on research and development, although it was seen as too detailed and specific. It will be necessary to prioritize issues and to cover strategies instead of detailed plans of action. Canada suggested that the distinction between desertification and drought be made because the former is reversible while the latter is not. It is necessary to look at the relationships between these two problems in order to address the problem of poverty in combatting desertification. It is also necessary to distinguish between prevention and restoration of desertified areas. Research work should be focused on on-farm or off-station research in order to involve farmers at all levels. The specific areas that require more attention include: the role of women in farming and training children on the appropriate methods; concentrating on farm and pastoral systems and not just crop production; the socio-economic factors relating to drought and desertification; and the establishment of production-oriented land management systems. A bottom-up approach is needed for research and the integration of local indigenous knowledge with modern technology and research.
The EC suggested that existing networking centres should be supported and should tailor their work to increasing local capacity to assess local needs. It is necessary to ensure coordination between existing networking agencies. Most delegates including Norway and India agreed with this approach. It was further proposed that the Secretariat compile a list of institutions that are already networking, such as the CGIAR. Some African governments continued to call for local research centres.
INFORMATION COLLECTION, ANALYSIS AND EXCHANGE: The debate centered on the type of information to be collected: basic information (data-banks) or applied information (needed in combatting desertification) such as early-warning systems. There was consensus that the information should not be expensive or elitist. Canada suggested that the information respond to specific questions about specific localities (monitoring) with a minimum data set for answering specific questions. It should also cover the socio-economic aspects. India expressed concern that the requirements of the developing countries as stipulated in the documents would require considerable funding. Morocco stressed the need for all countries suffering desertification to have the requisite instruments to monitor and assess desertification. There is need to establish five to ten parameters to be collected periodically as a measure for the success of the programmes. UNESCO proposed that process tap into UNDP's Sustainable Development Network. The role of coordination should not be centralized in one institution. Information collected should not just be exchanged between the parties but with everyone who needs it. It is also necessary to identify who will provide data and to consult with the UN agencies on this issue. The Working Group proposed that the IPED identify information needs, its intended uses, and ask the panel of experts to identify the information at the local, national and regional levels. At the end of the session, the Chair requested all the delegates to submit their written comments.
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