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PLENARY

The fourth substantive session of the INCD convened Monday morning. The Plenary first dealt with certain procedural matters, such as the adoption of the agenda and the accreditation of 14 additional NGOs. The rest of the morning session was taken up by statements by the representatives of international agencies and governments.

UNEP: Executive Director Elizabeth Dowdeswell noted the important linkages between poverty and desertification and said that no long-term strategy can persist in the absence of sufficient resources. Poverty pressures leave people little choice but to discount the future so deeply that they are unable to protect the resource base for present and future generations. Dowdeswell reported that UNEP plans to continue its close liaison with UNDP through a joint initiative that has provided seed money for UNSO for the last decade.

MAURITANIA: Sghair Ould M'Bareck, Minister for Rural Development and the Environment, stressed the exemplary nature of North-South cooperation within the Sahara and Sahel Observatory and urged that such cooperation be consolidated and extended in other areas.

SENEGAL: Abdoulaye Bathily, Minister for Environment, stressed that increasing international cooperation and local partnerships will ensure greater efficiency in the fight against desertification. He said that many African governments were concerned about the delay in negotiating the African instrument.

CILSS: Mme. Ciss‚ Mariam K. Sidib‚ said that consensus on the substance of the African instrument must be reached by the end of this session. She said that the instrument should be strong, practical, forward-looking and ensure meaningful action.

UNSO: Samuel Nyambi suggested that a multi-level approach should be taken with regard to the question of finance. He stressed the importance of the establishment of new efforts, coalitions and partnerships at all levels.

OAU: Wawa Ossay-Leba identified the remaining obstacles to be overcome. These include technology transfer and the legal modalities to ensure the flexible entry into force of the Convention.

ALGERIA (ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77): Amb. Hocine Meghlaoui said that the Convention must stimulate efforts to combat desertification and drought. He noted the need to mobilize new and additional resources and the need for a special fund. He also referred to the importance of strengthening existing institutions to ensure follow-up.

INCD CHAIR Bo Kjell‚n asked the working groups to achieve a clear text for both the Convention and the African instrument by the end of this session, since the mandate for the working groups expires at the end of next week. He said that Working Group II should also complete a first reading of the various proposed texts for the Asian and Latin American instruments so that intersessional work can follow to ensure that agreement is reached in Paris. Kjell‚n also announced that he will present an outline for the contents of a draft resolution on interim measures. He added the possibility of a special meeting sometime between June and the end of the year on the question of priority for Africa.

INCD EXECUTIVE SECRETARY Hama Arba Diallo introduced the documents before the Committee and noted difficulties with the Voluntary Fund for developing country participation and said that the Trust Fund was in a better state, although additional contributions were still needed.

NGOS: On behalf of NGOs, Masse Lo said that the linkages between underdevelopment and desertification must be articulated in the Convention. He added that national programmes must address root causes with solutions based on people's participation. He reiterated the NGO proposal that was launched at INCD-3 for National Desertification Trust Funds.

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