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INTERSESSIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

RATIFICATION UPDATE: As of 31 July 1995, the Convention had 107 signatories and four ratifications. The four countries that have ratified the Convention are Mexico, Cape Verde, Egypt and Senegal. Ten countries have signed the Convention since the conclusion of INCD-6 in January: Ecuador, Panama, Honduras, Chile, Mauritius, Turkmenistan, Antigua and Barbuda, Jordan, Rwanda and Swaziland.

WORLD DAY TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION: As part of the campaign to combat land degradation, the 49th United Nations General Assembly designated 17 June as "World Day to Combat Desertification." On the first anniversary of the adoption of the Convention, the Interim Secretariat for the Convention, in collaboration with a number of international, academic, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, staged a series of international events to raise awareness on the issue of desertification.

In Geneva, the Interim Secretariat held a press briefing and co-sponsored a policy dialogue on desertification and energy consumption with the International Academy of the Environment. The policy dialogue explored means to combat desertification through the use of alternative energy sources, as well as more energy-efficient technologies at the household and community levels.

The Secretariat also commissioned the preparation of "Down to Earth: A Simple Guide to the Convention to Combat Desertification." This report examines why the Convention is necessary and what is distinct about it. The 32-page report provides information on the issues and strategies for combating desertification.

In Nairobi, UNEP Executive Director Elizabeth Dowdeswell honored eight individuals or projects that made an outstanding contribution to combating desertification with the first-ever "Saving the Drylands" awards. UNEP received 80 submissions of success stories in desertification control. Three of the eight winners, in Australia, Namibia and Senegal are on privately-owned land where the individual farmer has developed the techniques for the immediate benefit of his own family. Nevertheless, the proven experiences have had a great multiplier effect through replication elsewhere. The other five activities took place on community-owned land in Senegal, China (2), India and Pakistan where community members participate in all stages of development and share the benefits.

Among numerous other activities, UNSO sponsored a seminar on desertification in New York. UNESCO sponsored an exhibition on desertification and held a public meeting on desertification in collaboration with the French NGO, SILVA, and the Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS). IFAD held a seminar on drought and desertification as well as an IFAD-NGO Forum on Land Degradation and Poverty. IGADD held an exposition on drought and desertification, produced a pamphlet on IGADD Convention-related activities and produced an illustration of the Convention provisions for schools.

DESERT MARGINS INITIATIVE: An International Planning Workshop was held in Nairobi from 23-26 January 1995, in Nairobi to launch research programmes under the auspices of a collaborative Desert Margins Initiative for Sub-Saharan Africa. The 80 Workshop participants, drawn from various sectors, agreed on an overall objective: "to promote innovative and action-oriented dryland management research to arrest land degradation" in sub-Saharan countries. The Initiative will initially be implemented in the affected areas of Botswana, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali, Namibia and Niger.

OTHER MEETINGS: A regional conference on desertification for the northern Mediterranean was held in Almer´┐Ża, Spain from 26-28 June 1995. Sub-regional consultations were held by the CILSS and IGADD member countries, from 24-28 July 1995 in Dakar, Senegal and 1 to 3 August in Asmara, Eritrea, respectively. The African meetings considered strategies for the preparation of the sub-regional action programme areas called for in the CCD Regional Implementation Annex for Africa.

The OAU, in collaboration with UNSO held a Workshop on 18-20 July 1995 in Nairobi, Kenya aimed at initiating discussion on possible structures and processes for establishing national desertification funds (NDFs), as provided for in Article 21.1.d of the CCD. The multi-sectoral workshop considered various aspects of the NDFs, including purpose, scope and operational modalities such as the legal, governance and funding aspects.

NGO ACTIVITIES: A meeting for European NGOs was held on March 6 in Brussels, Belgium, to inform the NGOs about INCD-6 and to coordinate activities in the field of awareness raising on desertification. At the meeting Denis Peter from the European Commission announced that a conference on desertification is planned by the Commission's DG XII in Spain in 1996.

During a two-day information and awareness raising meeting held on 6-7 June by the Senegalese government, NGOs were invited to carry out a study on NGO/CBO participation in the NAPs. The methodology and mechanism NGOs presented was accepted, as well as was the idea of a national desertification fund.

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