Working Group I finished its second reading of the Preamble and then discussed Article 1 bis and Articles 2-5, as contained in A/AC.241/WG.I/CRP.1 and CRP.2.
PREAMBLE: Paragraph 20 mentions the relationship among the objectives of the Climate Change and Biodiversity Conventions and desertification. Italy, Argentina and several African countries supported its retention. Sweden and the UK disagreed. The paragraph remains bracketed.
Paragraph 21: The brackets were removed and the paragraph now reads: "Believing that strategies to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought will be most effective if they are based on sound systematic observation and rigorous scientific knowledge, and continuously reevaluated."
Paragraph 22: The brackets were removed and it now reads: "Determine to take appropriate actions in combating desertification and mitigating the effects of drought, for the benefit of present and future generations."
The US proposed a new paragraph that recognizes the key role of international cooperation, donor coordination and the importance of consistency with national priorities.
ARTICLE 1 BIS -- SCOPE OF CONVENTION: Sweden, Norway and Finland called for its deletion, as it is not necessary. The Chair suggested placing it in the Objectives section, but Senegal preferred transferring it to the Definitions section. Mali, Niger and Cte D'Ivoire wanted it to be retained as is. No agreement was reached.
ARTICLE 2 -- OBJECTIVES: In paragraph 1, the Chair proposed the following language: "The objective of this Convention is to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought in countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa, through effective action at all levels supported by international cooperation [and partnership arrangements] in the framework of an integrated approach, which is consistent with Agenda 21 with a view to contributing to the achievement of sustainable development in affected areas."
Paragraph 2 focuses on related socio-economic issues. While developed countries wanted to keep the focus on desertification, developing countries insisted that the social dimension is equally important. The Chair proposed: "Achieving this objective shall involve long-term integrated strategies which focus simultaneously in affected and threatened areas, on improved productivity of lands, rehabilitation, conservation and sustainable management of land and water resources, leading to improved living conditions, particularly at the community level."
ARTICLE 3 -- PRINCIPLES: This entire article remains bracketed. Developed countries are opposed to inclusion of a principles section in a legally-binding instrument. Developing countries argue that since both the Biodiversity and Climate Change Conventions contain principles they should be retained here.
ARTICLE 4 -- GENERAL OBLIGATIONS: There was a lengthy discussion on sub-paragraph 2(b), which addresses the economic environment in affected countries. The US, Sweden and the EU felt this paragraph was beyond the scope of the Convention, as it addresses trade, market conditions and exchange rates. Brazil, Argentina, Mali and Uganda argued for its retention. It remains bracketed.
Sub-paragraph 2(c) was amended to read "integrate strategies for poverty eradication into efforts to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought."
Sub-paragraph 2(d) generated debate on whether it should promote cooperation among "affected developing country Parties" or all "affected Parties." It now reads: "promote cooperation among affected country Parties in the field of environmental protection, land management and conservation of land and water resources, as they relate to desertification and drought." Algeria, on behalf of the G-77, announced that it will reformulate several paragraphs, including 2(g) and (h). As a result, they remain bracketed.
ARTICLE 5 -- OBLIGATIONS OF AFFECTED COUNTRY PARTIES: In the chapeau, there was disagreement whether affected countries have a "special responsibility" or a "critical role" in combatting desertification and mitigating the effects of drought. Both formulations remain bracketed.
The brackets in paragraph (a) were removed. It now reads: "give due priority to combating desertification and mitigating the effects of drought, and allocate adequate resources in accordance with their conditions and capabilities," as proposed by Ethiopia. Paragraph (b) now reads: "establish strategies and priorities within the framework of national sustainable development policies and plans to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought."
Delegates agreed that 5(c) should focus on removing the underlying causes of desertification and 5(d) should focus on promoting public participation, as proposed by Brazil and Niger. The new formulation of (c) is: "address the underlying causes of desertification and paying special attention to the socio-economic factors contributing to desertification processes." 5(d) now reads: "promote awareness and facilitate participation of local populations, in particular women and youth, with the support of NGOs, in efforts to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought."
Austria called for the deletion of paragraph (e) in light of its lack of substance. The paragraph had asked governments to strengthen existing legislation and establish new laws.
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