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REPORT OF THE SIXTH SESSION

The sixth session of the INCD began on Monday afternoon, 9 January 1995. Delegates first adopted the agenda (A/AC.241/28) and the provisional programme of work for the first week (A/AC.241/28/Add.1).

In his introductory statement, the Chair, Bo Kjell‚n, said that in this phase of the process, there is less pressure on texts, but it is now more important to translate words into action. He stressed that the participation of NGOs has been essential, as well as the contribution of the Panel of Experts and the scientific community in general, especially the social and economic experts. Kjell‚n noted that the Committee"s main task at this session is to organize its work for the interim period. On substantive issues, the main focus will be the work programme for the interim period and the preparation for the first Conference of the Parties (COP). He asked the delegates to comment on the document with respect to time schedules and organization of work for the interim period, including the possible establishment of sessional working groups. On the resolution on urgent action for Africa, he noted that the statements made by governments at the signing ceremony are contained in documents A/AC.241/30 and Add.1.

On behalf of the G-77 and China, Jos‚ Lino B. Guerrero (Philippines) said that subregional, regional and international collaboration is critical to arrest the causes of desertification and drought and to rectify their effects. Proof of international commitment to combat desertification and drought may be expressed in terms of contributions to the Voluntary Fund and the Trust Fund and the mobilization of financial resources.

On behalf of the 15 States of the European Union, Anne de Lattre (France) observed that the large number of signatories to the Convention in Paris attests to the importance of the CCD. For this Convention to be effective, affected countries should take the initiative and establish medium- and long-term plans of action that involve local populations. She further noted that donors must act as true partners of affected countries. The EU believes that the role of the interim Secretariat should be facilitative and not operative, as some of the documents suggest. The EU does not support the increased funding requirements for the interim period, which assume that the Secretariat will be playing an operative role.

In other introductory remarks, Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development Nitin Desai noted that the successful conclusion of the Convention should not cause a loss of momentum, and reminded the Committee that the transition from policy development to policy implementation demands political commitment. Anatole Tiendrebeogo, Minister for Environment and Tourism of Burkina Faso and current head of the AMCEN, lamented that there seems to be a "backsliding" by affected countries, other Parties and the international community at a time when the issue of ratification is being raised. The Minister for Environment of Mongolia, Dr. Batjargal, stated that adopting this Convention is moving one step towards the implementation of Chapter 12 of Agenda 21.

On behalf of the NGOs, Heinz Greijn (ELCI) reported that in November some 50 NGOs from around the world met in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, to establish a global network on desertification called RIOD (R‚seau International d"ONG sur la D‚sertification) and to develop an action plan for the implementation of the Convention.

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