On the opposite side, the developed countries claimed that a more coordinated approach to financing programmes to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought is needed. With this admission, the donors have acknowledged the need to rationalize and strengthen existing resources before committing to provide new and additional resources. Rather than creating a new fund to combat desertification, the donors want to avoid the proliferation of funds and use, instead, all available national, bilateral and multilateral funding mechanisms. Specialized funds have not always been effective. As Egypt pointed out at INCD-2, a special account was set up by the General Assembly to mobilize funds for the 1977 Plan of Action to Combat Desertification. After ten years, it collected only US$236,000.
The donors are also adamantly opposed to the inclusion of any language in the Convention that guarantees the achievement of 0.7% of GNP for ODA. By placing this language in a legally-binding document, those countries that have not accepted the UN target (i.e., the US and Switzerland) or those who are unable to meet this commitment will be unlikely to ratify the Convention.
The approach taken by INCD Chair Bo Kjelln at INCD-4 with regard to financial resources and mechanisms is perhaps the best method to resolve these fundamental issues. By extricating the discussion from the rhetoric of formal working group or plenary sessions, delegates were able to get down to the business of reaching much-needed compromises. After four meetings of the special group under the chairmanship of Pierre-Marc Johnson (Canada) and Bolong Sonko (The Gambia), delegates had reached understanding on: the need for mobilization of financial resources from various sources; the need for effective and efficient use of resources; and an appreciation for the current efforts of affected developing countries and the contributions of developed countries to combatting desertification. In the coming months it is hoped that delegates will be able to arrive at the compromises needed to successfully renew efforts to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought through this Convention. But without the political will and the desire to draft realistic, implementable and effective financial provisions, it is unlikely that the convention will be truly operational. [Return to start of article]