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WORKING GROUP I

SUB-REGIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES: Discussion on sub-regional action programmes continued on Monday afternoon. Egypt commented that while sub-regional programmes may be scientifically-based and technologically feasible, they are not implemented for political or financial reasons. He later added that in some cases it is more efficient to implement regional programmes than multiple national programmes.

Brazil, Bangladesh and Finland agreed that sub-regional action programmes should complement national action programmes. France asserted that sub-regional institutions should strengthen national capabilities. Brazil, Algeria and Australia stressed the need for increased coordination between national institutions. Algeria also mentioned the need for increased coordination with regional economic integration processes.

Botswana urged strengthening and increasing coordination between sub-regional programmes. Senegal agreed, adding that data collection, research, participation by local communities, training and administration should be strengthened.

Mexico stressed the need for international cooperation networks on science, technology, training and exchange of experiences. Morocco suggested establishing linkages between transboundary and geographically-separated projects. China, supported by India, suggested that sub-regional centres should be established, with assistance from the international community, to implement the regional action programmes.

Brazil stressed the need to strengthen existing institutions, but in their absence, new ones should be created. Mali added that sub-regional institutions should be created to fill the many gaps that exist in Africa, especially with regard to satellite imagery and shared water resources. These views were echoed by Chad, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Gambia and Mauritania.

Belgium said that the rationalization of existing institutions (paragraph 74(a) of A/AC.241/12) is important and should precede the establishment of new ones. He added that any new institutions should support national policies and not drain limited financial and personnel resources. The UK added that most regional cooperation agreements in Africa have not been effective.

Niger listed three criteria for regional initiatives: action which no one country can successfully undertake alone; significant benefit to countries; and specific national components. Bolivia also mentioned the need to develop criteria to determine which institutions are working on desertification and if they have used an integrated approach. Norway and Zimbabwe agreed that the areas requiring subregional action should first be recognized and only then should the necessary institutions be identified.

Austria described the Central European Initiative as a successful sub-regional institution that does not have its own bureaucracy, but relies on civil servants and others working in their national capacities who communicate with each other on early warning systems and other matters.

Finland and Jordan supported paragraph 78 that mentions the need to take into account migratory flows of people and animals. Two NGOs, Third World Network and the Women's Environment and Development Organization, made general statements. The Chair reminded NGOs and delegates alike to keep their interventions focussed on the relevant agenda items.

CAPACITY BUILDING: Egypt stressed the need to help countries develop their national capacity for supporting measures, monitoring and assessment. Egypt also pointed out that the 75-80 percent of the relevant technologies are in the public domain and unpatented. Mali, on behalf of the African Group, stated that political, legislative and management measures must be implemented at the national level. Belgium, on behalf of the EC, stated that aid agencies must increase their knowledge of affected populations. Not only should capacity be developed among local populations, but local populations should contribute their special knowledge to decision-making. These points were supported by the US and Sweden.

Tunisia pointed out that decision making should be decentralized and include the full participation of women. Sweden noted the importance of drawing on the expertise of women and NGOs, as well as the indigenous knowledge that exists within many countries, referring specifically to Malaysia. In response, Malaysia stated that it was fully supportive of relying on indigenous knowledge to combat desertification. While supportive of South-South cooperation, Malaysia was firmly opposed to any attempt by the international community to tell the South what to do under the umbrella of South-South cooperation.

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