INCD Chair Bo Kjelln informed delegates that the session was intended to show what has been done in response to the resolution on urgent action for Africa and where partnership arrangements have evolved.
The PHILIPPINES, on behalf of the G-77 and China, said that with regard to urgent action for Africa, the Interim Secretariat should focus on capacity building, training and promotion and elaboration of national, subregional and regional programmes. The IS should also: collate relevant information from affected African countries and make the necessary contacts with UN field agencies, multilateral assistance organizations, local communities, the donor community and NGOs to help implement this resolution. The IS should also raise public awareness.
ALGERIA reported that the members of the Arab Maghreb Union have: developed cooperative relationships with African countries and subregional organizations; begun to work on an inter-Mediterranean framework for the implementation of the Convention; developed their own national action plans; and held a series of meetings on desertification, drought and food security. A Maghreb regional action programme should be finalized soon. LEBANON stated that it has embarked on a process of reconstruction, including environmental conservation. Thus, he has been authorized to sign the Convention.
TURKEY noted that the classification of countries provided in the Secretariat"s documents is not in conformity with the INCD negotiations. Turkey belongs to the Northern Mediterranean region. FRANCE stated that the European Community will continue to fund desertification activities in Africa, especially in line with the 1989 Lom IV Convention. France has also begun a consultative process aimed at developing national action programmes and has participated in relevant meetings including those of the Club du Sahel and CILSS/ACCT. France has authorized its missions to be attentive to national requests and will continue to support the OSS.
SENEGAL said that it has established a national sustainable development commission. Action has also been taken at the national level to fully understand the problems of desertification, through the convening of forums and seminars. Ratification of the Convention will be considered by the National Assembly by February 1995. LESOTHO reported that a national environment secretariat was established in the office of the Prime Minister in April 1994. Through the coordination of this secretariat, a broadbased committee of NGOs, governmental and other leaders has been formed. A public awareness campaign is underway and seminars for politicians and policymakers on the implementation of this Convention are planned. NIGER requested more coordination through the Interim Secretariat.
ISRAEL has held a workshop and seminar relating to plant and land sustainability in dryland areas. Other planned activities include: a seminar on water management; converting a research institute into an international centre for monitoring, research and extension work in desertification; and undertaking a joint project with the Palestinian Authority and Jordan to survey the risks of desertification in the Rift Valley. ARMENIA has been raising public awareness about the Convention.
FINLAND has been supporting sustainable agriculture practices, forestry management and training. Planned activities include a scientist assistance programme, with particular emphasis on building forest research capacities of young forestry scientists in developing countries.
The US said that, although the budget climate in Washington is uncertain at the moment, it is still committed to providing US$500 million in current or planned projects to support the Convention and the urgent action phase. The US has instructed all of its embassies in Africa to support urgent action through dialogue with African governments, donors and international organizations.
GERMANY said that since the signing ceremony in Paris, DM3 million has been given to support the elaboration of national action programmes, coordination and capacity building in Africa. A three-year grant of DM2 million has been given to support the development of a national action plan in Mali and DM5 million is supporting the Namibian Government"s elaboration and early implementation of its national action plan.
KENYA stated that a Subcommittee of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Environment, which includes NGOs and academia, has been established to oversee the implementation of the Convention. A similar sub-committee has also been established to ensure linkages between the Climate Change and Biodiversity Conventions. In spite of financial constraints, Kenya will provide seed money to the IS to assist in work related to action programmes.
SWITZERLAND decried the fact that some activities being outlined under the resolution on urgent action for Africa were prepared before the completion of the Convention and wondered whether any new funds were required. Switzerland had released SFR1 million for relevant NGO activities. Switzerland should ratify the Convention by the end of this year.
ZAMBIA outlined its activities aimed at developing new programmes on rangeland management, livestock improvement and to uplift the standard of living of the local people. A workshop involving local communities has already been held. CANADA reported that it is providing: institutional support to organizations involved in desertification control; capacity building of NGOs; support for agroforestry research; land management projects; and implementation of projects to protect soil restoration. Canada is also supporting NGO anti-desertification and public awareness activities in the Sahel.
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