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INTRODUCTORY REMARKS

UNEP Executive Director Elizabeth Dowdeswell said the INCD has entered a period that requires hard work to achieve real progress towards implementation, generate commitment for action and push for the ratification process. The two challenges are how to resolve the problem of desertification in spite of its complexity and to ensure ratification when donors are cutting back aid. UNEP would be honored to host the Secretariat, but feels it is not the best equipped to become the Global Mechanism. It is better able to contribute to the development of a scientific knowledge base and indicators, push for land degradation to be considered within the main GEF criteria, identify, evaluate and publish success stories in combating desertification and support the Committee on Science and Technology.

UNSO Director Samuel Nyambi, on behalf of UNDP Director Gustave Speth, reported that UNSO now supports all affected countries, not only Africa. The organization has changed its name to Office to Combat Desertification and Drought, but retains its acronym. A detailed report of UNSO's activities will be available to delegates. Nyambi said that UNDP is available to host the Global Mechanism.

Pakistan, on behalf of the G-77 and China, stated that it views the Global Mechanism as an institution to mobilize resources for the Convention.