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URGENT ACTION FOR AFRICA AND ACTION IN OTHER REGIONS

This agenda item was considered during two plenary sessions. The first session was devoted exclusively to reports on the implementation of the Resolution on Urgent Action for Africa. The second session, which was held during the second week, provided an opportunity to report on the work done in other regions based on the regional implementation annexes. The countries covered by the various regional implementation annexes held a half-day of informal consultations prior to the Plenary. During the closing Plenary, Kjell�n circulated a paper containing his conclusions on this subject (A/AC.241/CRP.15).

URGENT ACTION FOR AFRICA: Kjell�n said the discussion was aimed at enabling delegates to learn from African experiences, using Mali, Namibia and the CILSS region as the major examples. Those countries gave detailed accounts of their activities. Amb. Diallo also reviewed the Interim Secretariat's role in national and regional activities in Africa, including: facilitating two subregional meetings and national seminars in 13 African countries; preparing information kits and a simplified version of the Convention; and participating in the celebration of the World Day to Combat Desertification. The environment ministers of the Central African Republic and Senegal and a Vice-Minister from Eritrea also presented statements.

Reporting on behalf of the countries covered by the Regional Implementation Annex for Africa, Uganda welcomed the priority accorded the region and assistance provided so far. He stated that focusing on Africa does not take away the global nature of the Convention.

In addition to other activities, Niger, Egypt, Morocco and Uganda have held various types of awareness raising workshops. Kenya, Ethiopia, Mauritania and Cape Verde also outlined the different activities they have undertaken. The CILSS, IGADD, UMA and SADC subregions reported on the progress they had made, especially in initiating action towards the preparation of the subregional action programmes. Niger, Kenya and Uganda are working on the ratification process. Benin and Mali expect to ratify the Convention by the end of 1995. ENDA, on behalf of the NGOs, and the OAU also reported on their regional activities.

Developed countries also demonstrated their support in Africa. Spain, on behalf of the EU, pointed out that desertification-related projects receive a large portion of the total amount of aid allocated by the EU for development projects. The Netherlands said its early ratification of the CCD demonstrates its commitment. The country will co-finance the NGO network RIOD for three years. Australia said it has set up a US$250,000 fund for activities within the Eastern and Southern African regions, with which it shares many similarities. France can: assist in research; support CILSS member countries with funding and facilitation for action plans; assist with information, observation and monitoring; and help to mobilize NGOs. Switzerland reported that it was implementing information and awareness activities and supporting NGOs in various regions. The Club du Sahel will support a dialogue in November for regional cooperation on peace and sustainable development. Canada is supporting NAPs, research, information systems, and progress indicators, as well as awareness raising in Africa. Sweden reported that it had supported 30 projects related to desertification during the last ten years and, in consultation with IGADD, has developed four thematic programmes.

ACTION IN OTHER REGIONS: Regional Implementation Annex for Latin America — Several delegates, including Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru and Mexico, underscored the need to support action in the Latin American and Caribbean region. Colombia, on behalf of the group, said in view of the growing problem of desertification in the region, there is need to undertake action now to avoid the necessity for urgent action later. He added that there is a trend to focus on one single region to the detriment of others. A workshop is planned for 28 August to 3 September 1995, to discuss and examine the implementation of the regional annex. He hoped there will be an indication of support for the upcoming conference to guarantee the international nature of the CCD. Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Chile and Argentina reported that they had started work on their national action programmes and outlined some of the activities entailed in the programmes. Bolivia said it hoped to ratify the Convention by the end of August. Cuba said a ministerial environmental meeting scheduled for September in Havana will provide an opportunity to insert language supporting CCD activities in the conference document. Mexico supported the need to convene a meeting to assess regional progress related to action plans already underway.

Regional Implementation Annex for Asia — India, reporting on behalf of countries covered by the Regional Implementation Annex for Asia, said he hoped to present an action-oriented concept paper at INCD-8. The Asian group will hold expert meetings before the next session. China also reported on the activities it had initiated. The Russian Federation, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan called for financial support to redress the problems related to drought and desertification in their region. The Republic of Korea said it was committed to the implementation of the Convention.

Turkey said the conference held in Almer�a, Spain, from 26-28 June 1995, established a dialogue that will facilitate the coordination of NAPs. He said all regional annex groups should be represented on the Bureau. Governments should designate a focal point for implementation of NAPs. Regional information networks should also be established. Israel described a Middle East joint subregional project with Jordan and the Palestinian autonomous region to seek development options without the risk of desertification.

While reporting on their activities, Lebanon and Armenia said they expected to ratify the CCD by October and December 1995, respectively. Iran reported that during its last session, ESCAP supported the strengthening of the Asian regional network on training and research in desertification and provided funds for its office in Tehran. ESCAP has also requested the convening of a high-level meeting to develop a regional programme of action for the network. TEMA, a Turkish NGO, said the NGOs have been involved in awareness raising.

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