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CLOSING PLENARY

Kjell�n called the final Plenary to order at 12:30 pm on Thursday, 17 August 1995. After statements from several delegates, the Chairs of the Working Groups presented their reports.

WORKING GROUP I: The Chair, Mourad Ahmia, said the Group had conducted six formal and two informal meetings that resulted in the adoption of six draft decisions. Two draft decisions were submitted by the G-77 and China — the Permanent Secretariat (A/AC.241/WG.I/(VII)/L.1) and identification of an organization to house the Global Mechanism (A/AC.241/WG.I/(VII)/L.2/Rev.1). Three were submitted by the Working Group Chair: financial rules (A/AC.241/WG.I/(VII)/L.3); programme and budget (A/AC.241/WG.I/(VII)L.4); and location of the Permanent Secretariat (A/AC.241/WG.I/(VII)L.5). He pointed out two amendments. The second part of decision L.4 now reads, "invites the Interim Secretariat to submit a revised version of document A/AC.241/36 related to programme and budget at the eighth session, taking into account the views expressed by delegations at its seventh session, as well as views communicated to the Interim Secretariat of the Convention." With respect to decision L.5, the Group had agreed to add the phrase "as well as support provided for the INCD," to paragraph 10 of Annex II of document A/AC.241/35.

The sixth draft decision, also submitted by the Chair, deals with the designation of a Permanent Secretariat and arrangements for its functioning (A/AC.241/WG.I/(VII)/L.6). This document decides to transmit to its next session the draft decision L.1, submitted by the G-77 and China.

Delegates noted that the reference to the United Nations in draft decision L.1 should be understood to mean the UN system. Spain noted that one of the mandates given to the Group was the election of a Vice-Chair for a WEOG representative to the Bureau, which the Chair had not reported on. Kjell�n said he had not received any nominations so the issue would be addressed at the next session.

All the draft decisions were adopted by the Plenary without further comments.

WORKING GROUP II: The Chair, Takao Shibata, said the Group's deliberations had resulted in three draft decisions: on the draft rules of procedure for the COP (A/AC.241/WG.II/(VII)/L.1); on communication of information and review of implementation (A/AC.241/WG.II/(VII)/L.2); and on organization of scientific and technological cooperation (A/AC.241/WG.II/(VII)/L.3).

Shibata pointed out that the Group had also made a recommendation for the INCD Chair, which was not in the form of a draft decision. The Group requests Kjell�n to explore the possibility of financial assistance from the GEF for the compilation and communication of information. This recommendation was considered within the context of draft decision L.2.

The Plenary adopted all the draft decisions and noted that Kjell�n will report his findings with respect to the GEF at the next session.

DATES AND VENUES OF FUTURE SESSIONS OF THE INCD: The Chair then introduced draft decision A/AC.241/L.27, which was his revision of a G-77 and China draft on future sessions of the INCD. He said it is highly desirable that the INCD give full recommendations to the General Assembly on when and where future sessions should be held.

The decision bears in mind the need for sufficient extrabudgetary resources to support developing country participation and expresses concern at the present level of the Special Voluntary Fund. It then appeals to governments and organizations to make contributions and calls for a report to the General Assembly on the extrabudgetary funds. The decision recommends to the General Assembly that two sessions of the INCD, each of up to two weeks duration, should be held in 1996 — the eighth session in Geneva from 5-16 February and the ninth session in New York from 3-13 September. The decision also recommends that the General Assembly authorize two additional sessions, of up to two weeks duration, in 1997 — the tenth session in New York from 6-17 January and the eleventh session in April, the exact dates and venue to be decided at a later stage. It requests the General Assembly to review the financial situation of the funds in light of the report and to take appropriate decisions, and it suggests two dates for the first COP in June or August 1997.

Tunisia said the paragraph asking the General Assembly (GA) to review the funding situation should invite the GA "to take appropriate decision regarding future sessions of the Committee" rather than unspecified decisions. The Chair said the language was aimed at allowing the GA to take broader action to support the trust funds, not only to decide on dates. Benin said the Chair's wording reflected the workings of the GA. Japan said the amendment could question all future sessions, which could undermine the support of donors. He proposed deleting the paragraph.

The Chair said it is important that governments should not have any doubt on the venue of the next session so that donations are possible. He appealed to Tunisia to withdraw his amendment. India said the Chair's language speaks of appropriate decisions, not excluding the venue and dates, but that it should not specifically link availability of funds with length and venue.

The Chair made a statement for the record renewing his appeal for contributions, promising the review of funds and an additional appeal to governments, if necessary, and explaining that the decision referred to a review of the financial situation of the funds but also to proposals on a programme of work. He asked Tunisia to accept his assurance.

The decision was adopted, after which Tunisia, supported by Pakistan, made a statement for the record. He said his interpretation of paragraph 5 is that the GA will take an appropriate decision including on the future sessions of INCD, as well as the substance and venue, depending on the contributions to the Voluntary Fund and with respect to the participation of developing countries.

ADOPTION OF THE PROVISIONAL AGENDA FOR INCD-8: Colombia, on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, suggested that item 3, urgent action for Africa and action taken in other regions should be subdivided into two. Benin went on to suggest "Special action: a) urgent action for Africa; and b) Action taken in other regions." With this amendment, the draft provisional agenda was adopted.

REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON ITS SEVENTH SESSION: The report (A/AC.241/L.28) was presented by Vice-Chair Jos� Urrutia (Peru), on behalf of INCD Rapporteur Nikita Glasovsky (Russian Federation). The report was adopted with the amendment that a third Vice-Chair will be elected at the eighth session.

Finally, the Chair made minor amendments to his conclusions (A/AC.241/CRP.15) in paragraph 5. The paragraph deals with the implementation of Resolution 5.1 on Urgent Action for Africa and underlines the global character of the problem of desertification and drought. This led the Latin American and Caribbean countries to question whether the global nature of the Convention was properly emphasized and stressed that if the CCD was to deal with Africa solely, they would have problems ratifying the Convention. After some discussion, the document was accepted.

Some delegates made closing statements. South Africa made a statement on behalf of the Temperate Southern Hemisphere Countries on the Environment, known as the Valdivia group, which includes Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and Uruguay. The Group was formerly established in Chile on 10 March 1995 to foster exchanges on scientific and environmental matters. In view of the importance of traditional knowledge, NGOs and CBOs were crucial to the process, thus the group will be working in collaboration with them.

The Sudan Environmentalist Society, on behalf of women, appealed for: women to participate at all levels in the preparation of NAPs; the allocation of designated funds by potential Parties for women's programmes; and increased numbers of women in the official delegations at INCD-8. She expressed disappointment at the lack of a female member of the Bureau. A representative of the RIOD NGO network urged governments to consider providing NGOs access to funding through the Global Mechanism. He also requested that the Secretariat should raise funds for NGO participation in the INCD during the interim period.

The Chair concluded INCD-7 by noting that: the purpose of this work is to improve conditions of the men and women living in the dryland areas; this session has resulted in negotiation texts for INCD-8; and it is encouraging to see so much action in the interim period, making the CCD a living convention. The four pillars of the Convention are: its participatory character; the creation of partnerships; the multidisciplinary approach; and the aim to fully use the scientific and technological knowledge available. Finally, the CCD is an important part of the Rio process. He closed the session at 3:30 pm.

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