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A. NATIONAL ACTION PROGRAMMES:

This section addresses procedures and criteria for the development and review of long-term national action programmes. The African Group's proposals include macro-economic issues, poverty eradication, combatting desertification and drought, and empowering local populations. Several industrialized countries said that most of these proposals belong in the regional instrument for Africa and that macro-economic issues and poverty eradication should not be resolved in this forum. Germany said that the African proposals were not concrete enough and do not take into account experiences with previous plans. Niger said that something should be added regarding crop damage due to parasites and other plagues, livestock production and population policies. Mauritania suggested reference to protection of animals, the environment, and pest control.

Australia and Norway said that national plans should be forward-looking and long-term (at least five years). There should be provisions for regular review, assessment and adjustment; criteria should be specific; donor countries should commit to long-term assistance in accordance with national plans; and pastoralism should receive more attention. Egypt and Chile said that the autonomy of States should be respected. The US stated that it is up to individual countries to determine what is necessary for their own national plans. China supported the establishment of national centres to monitor and study desertification.

The US, Australia and Norway stressed the importance of national plans that focus on concrete activities that can be properly implemented. France and others alluded to the multiplicity of national plans. Belgium, on behalf of the EC, said many action plans have failed because there is a lack of focus or prioritization. Malaysia and Burkina Faso commented that these plans are rarely implemented because of a lack of resources or know-how. Mali said that past plans have failed due to: the haste in drawing up plans; insensitivities of the experts drawing up the plans; and inadequacy of resources.

A number of delegates stressed the importance of integrating national action programmes with economic plans, environmental action plans, and regional and subregional plans. Many developing countries mentioned the need for international support (including financial resources) for these action plans. Germany and UNESCO echoed the need for greater donor coordination.

Most stressed the need to involve local populations in national development planning, execution and follow-up. A number of developing States argued that matters relating to poverty cannot be left out although some developed States did not think poverty eradication should be addressed here.

Egypt suggested four elements: action related to the management of drought; preventive action; rehabilitation of damaged and desertified lands; and the development of land and water resources. Israel supported these points and added that the economic development of hyper-arid deserts should be a part of national plans. KENGO, on behalf of the NGOs, argued for a revision of land-tenure laws and the adoption of national plans using the participatory approach. Kenya warned that this Convention cannot interfere with national government expenditures and policies, including land tenure. [Return to start of article]