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PLENARY

The Plenary convened Monday morning to hear reports from the two working groups, statements from ministers, regional groups and NGOs, and a report on the situation as regards extrabudgetary funds.

REPORT OF WORKING GROUPS: Working Group I Chair Erwin Ortiz-Gandanillas presented the report of Working Group I, noting that despite the constructive attitude of the group, numerous areas of divergence remain. Working Group II Chair Anne de Lattre reported on the progress of the group. She noted that revised text for Articles 1, 18 and 19 were available in all languages and that agreement had not yet been reached on the provisions dealing with the subsidiary bodies.

COUNTRY AND NGO STATEMENTS: The Environment Minister of Senegal noted the extent of international cooperation, new resources and institutions that are needed to combat desertification. He also stated that the drop in raw material prices, deterioration of terms of trade, debt and economic productivity have placed affected societies on the edge of survival.

The Environment Minister of Burkina Faso noted his concerns regarding the dissipation of the Spirit of Rio. He also stated that questions related to poverty, economic growth and renewable energy were indeed closely related to the Convention. He said that the Convention must be based on clear and precise obligations.

Algeria, on behalf of the G-77 and China, noted the G-77's concern with the tendency of developed countries to erode the scope of commitments made since Rio. He identified the fundamental principles that must underpin the Convention such as recognition of the global dimension of desertification and the links to poverty.

EL Salvador spoke on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, affirming the importance of common but differentiated responsibilities and the need to assure sufficient financial and technical resources and cooperation.

The representative of ICRISAT spoke on behalf of CGIAR and described the latter's activities in the area of desertification and its capacity to respond to the needs of the Convention.

KENGO spoke on behalf of NGOs and mentioned the importance of awareness-raising, regional training centres and the need to work closely with local communities and NGOs in combatting desertification.

EXTRA-BUDGETARY FUNDS: INCD Executive Secretary Hama Arba Diallo presented the situation with regard to the Voluntary Fund for the participation of developing countries and the Secretariat's Trust Fund, as contained in document A/AC.241/16. Diallo noted the insufficiency of funds in the Voluntary Fund and called on developed countries to increase contributions for the remaining INCD sessions. He also appealed to donor countries not to attach conditions to their funding contributions.

Several countries announced their plans to increase contributions to the Voluntary and Trust Funds, including: Germany, Japan, Italy, Spain, Canada, the US, Australia, Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden and Tunisia. Several of these countries requested more precise accounting from the Secretariat, to which Diallo responded that he would provide this information.

INCD Chair Bo Kjell‚n closed the morning session, outlining the suggested goals for the remaining sessions of both Working Groups: reach as broad an agreement as possible with clear language; clarify points of divergences and identify the means for resolution; and facilitate the task of the Secretariat in producing a revised text for INCD-4.

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