The Co-Chairs, Pierre-Marc Johnson and Bolong Sonko, opened the informal discussion by explaining that A/AC.241/L.19 is the result of approximately 50-60 hours of consultations, which began at INCD-4. Although this paper may not satisfy everyone's concerns, it could serve as the basis for negotiations. The floor was first opened for general comments. In a lengthy intervention, Algeria, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, regretted that Article 6 (obligations of developed country Parties) was not included in L.19, since finance cannot be discussed separate from developed country obligations. He re-introduced the G-77 and China's document dated 30 March 1994, which includes proposals on Articles 6, 20 and 21. He reiterated the Group's position on: new and additional financial resources; clear, specific and precise commitments by developed countries; Agenda 21 as the basis for all finance discussions; and a global financial mechanism.
One by one the developed countries responded, stressing their financial commitments and the need for better coordination and efficiency at the local, national, regional and sub-regional levels. The US said that all multilateral, bilateral and other anti-desertification assistance together totals US$2-3 billion. Japan said that its bilateral and multilateral assistance to Africa is US$1.5 billion. France added that 6% of its ODA to Africa goes to combatting desertification. Mali responded that the last OECD report says that only 1% of ODA is devoted to combatting desertification, while approximately 14,000 hectares of land are lost to desertification each year. Egypt added that the income foregone worldwide due to desertification is US$42.3 billion. NGOs reiterated their call for national desertification trust funds.
Despite the Co-Chairs' efforts to initiate a substantive discussion on Articles 20 and 21, the meeting degenerated into an hour-long procedural debate. G-77 countries and China refused to discuss Articles 20 and 21 unless Article 6 was also discussed. France argued that if Article 6 is to be discussed here, the obligations of developing countries should also be considered. While many OECD countries urged the meeting to address matters of substance, only Canada offerred specific comments on the text. He called for greater balance in the obligations of developed and developing countries and the need for multiple sources of funding. Long after it appeared as if the meeting was going nowhere, the Co-Chairs adjourned the meeting and announced they would discuss this matter with the Bureau.
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