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FINANCIAL RESOURCES AND MECHANISMS:

By the conclusion of INCD-3, the two articles on financial resources and mechanisms contained approximately 65 sets of brackets. Positions were polarized along North-South lines. Developing countries re-asserted their position during this session. Algeria, on behalf of the G-77 and China, said that the Convention and the regional annexes will be pointless without new and additional financial resources and without the establishment of a financial mechanism that is independent, identifiable and capable of mobilizing such resources in the effort to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought. Developing countries asserted that their starting point is the commitment for the mobilization of new and additional financial resources, as agreed to in UN Resolution 44/228 (establishment of UNCED) and Chapters 12 (combatting desertification) and 33 (financial resources and mechanisms) of Agenda 21. The G-77 and China continued to insist on the establishment of a new, specialized fund to finance appropriate action programmes and the achievement of the UN target of 0.7% of GNP for ODA by the year 2000.

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 Kjell‚n 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]