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PREPARATION FOR THE FIRST CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES

: During this session, the Committee identified the issues that must be discussed in order to ensure a productive first meeting of the Conference of the Parties. If these preliminary discussions are any indication, several of these issues will pose a challenge during the upcoming negotiations.

Agreement on the operational modalities for the Global Mechanism may be the greatest challenge. Except for the agreement that a Global Mechanism is to be established, it is still undefined. Such an institution has no precedent in other conventions. The developed countries seem to view the institution as a coordinating facility, while the developing countries still hope that it can be a multilateral funding mechanism. During the interim period, it will be necessary for delegates to clearly determine what role the mechanism will play and what organization could house it.

Another challenge is to reach agreement on the location and function of the Permanent Secretariat. The developing countries would prefer to have a new institution established for the Convention, as is the case for the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity. However, in the case of desertification existing institutions, such as UNSO and UNEP"s DC/PAC, have previously been involved in activities to combat desertification. The fact that UNSO"s scope has just been expanded beyond the Sudano-Sahelian region to include all countries affected by desertification may also have an impact on this decision. Under the circumstances, it is crucial that negotiations be focused not only on the need to conserve resources, but on how each potential institution will address the needs of those in the field in order to attain the objectives of the Convention.