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URGENT ACTION FOR AFRICA AND ACTION TAKEN IN OTHER REGIONS

Discussion on this subject was based on two resolutions adopted with the Convention at INCD-5: the resolutions on urgent action for Africa and on interim action in other regions. Discussions were held in plenary sessions and reports were presented for each region or subregion. Affected countries in one subregion reported their experiences; the donors in the region outlined the support they had provided; and then the NGOs and international organizations outlined their activities and support. The regions were identified on the basis of the regional implementation annexes in the CCD.

URGENT ACTION FOR AFRICA: In his introduction, Kjellén said the aim was to have an interactive discussion that would provide a picture of what has been done to implement the resolution and what lessons can be drawn from these activities. Delegations mainly focused on what they had done and were planning to do.

Lesotho, on behalf of Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), said most member States will have ratified the CCD by June this year. Their priorities are capacity building, institutional strengthening, training and awareness raising. SADC expects to complete its subregional action programme in 1996, even if the national action programmes (NAPs) are incomplete. He requested donors to brief their embassies so they can respond to CCD implementation requests. South Africa has three objectives: undertake a national audit; raise awareness on desertification; and design the national action programme.

Denmark, in collaboration with UNSO, has provided US$1.8 million to support the activities of the SADC countries, in particular Botswana, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. It also supported a consultation process for East Africa in Asmara, Eritrea, in August 1995.

IGADD said its member countries have started the process towards ratification. Sensitization workshops show that stakeholders' awareness is disappointingly low among ministries and donor representatives. He supported the establishment of interim enabling funds that could become National Desertification Funds (NDFs) when the CCD enters into force.

Eritrea is in the process of ratifying the CCD and is preparing a three-phase NAP. Sudan needs to harmonize its five-year programme with the CCD. Although the Sudan has requested financial assistance for the CCD process from international agencies, nothing has been forthcoming. Djibouti is in the process of ratifying the Convention. Ethiopia said its ongoing conservation strategy was developed in line with the provisions of the Convention.

Burundi said decision-makers have difficulty distinguishing between the Desertification, Biological Diversity and Climate Change Conventions. He requested support for awareness raising in countries where desertification is not yet acute. Rwanda said although desertification is not yet perceptible in the country, the massacres and movement of refugees has accelerated fuel wood consumption and, thus, deforestation and soil degradation. Uganda will set up district-level steering committees with government and NGO focal points and hold numerous regional and district workshops. In Kenya, a study on institutional arrangements for the CCD has been undertaken and a national awareness seminar will be held in March.

Australia has provided A$250,000 to Kenya and Zimbabwe for the preparation of NAPs, is processing an additional A$120,000 and will continue to fund activities in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Eritrea, Mozambique and Namibia. He said UNDP is the appropriate body to house the trust fund and host the Global Mechanism (GM) because it has the necessary infrastructure and personnel.

The Arab Maghreb Union noted that its regional meeting, which was held in Tunis from 8-11 November 1995, recommended the adoption of a programme with four main components: a bank of information on desertification, a network to monitor the ecosystem, a study center and a follow-up unit on desertification in the Maghreb countries. Tunisia has carried out natural resource sectoral studies. A working group on desertification has been set up.

Spain has supported projects on: renewable energy and energy planning in Morocco and Algeria amounting to US$700,000; integrated land management in Mauritania, Tunisia, Jordan and Equatorial Guinea at a cost of US$1.1 million; and waste and drainage management in Palestine for US$5.9 million. Italy described the two projects it is supporting in Tunisia and Egypt, worth approximately US$12 million and US$2.5 million, respectively. Japan stressed the need to have at least one project in Northern Africa and said it would like to receive a request for assistance. The League of Arab States detailed the research work undertaken in the region and cited a successful Algerian initiative where shepherds take care of the soil, which demonstrates the need for affected populations to be involved in CCD implementation.

CILSS outlined the difficulties in the subregion, including lack of financial resources and coordination by cooperating partners. He noted several activities related to strategies for mobilization of funds. CILSS' action programme will develop decision-making tools and support information exchange, NAPs and NGO participation. Mali reviewed stages of its methodology and said a national forum in March will consider partnership, financing, participation, institutional mechanisms, legislative measures, territorial management, the urban environment and workshop summaries.

Senegal said the first priority is to remove constraints that impede dialogue and outlined some decentralization measures undertaken to support emergency preparations to combat desertification. A national forum is planned for June 1996. Cape Verde said elections demonstrated local community support for the programme to combat desertification. The CCD has been disseminated nationally, seminars have been held in all municipalities and various activities were carried out in connection with World Desertification Day. Guinea's and Togo's next steps will entail awareness raising campaigns. In The Gambia task forces on the Conventions on Biological Diversity and Desertification are jointly involved in elaboration of the CCD's national action programmes.

Côte d'Ivoire aims to: emphasize awareness raising; establish a national committee on desertification; create a national desertification fund; and avoid inappropriate allocation of funds. Niger said its national sustainable development and environment plan includes a NAP for desertification that defines policies, strategies and priorities. Ghana said the CCD provided the impetus to re-establish a national committee on desertification established for an earlier UNSO project.

France has signed an agreement with CILSS involving FF12 million, agreed to be Chef-de-file in Cape Verde and Chad, assured continued cooperation with the OSS, financed a remote sensing center in Nairobi worth FF1.6 million and contributed to a firewood project in Mali. Portugal, in cooperation with the FAO, Cape Verde and Senegal, is planning a meeting on desertification on 24-28 June 1996 in Lisbon. The conclusions of this meeting will be transmitted to the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests. Japan said it is supporting a project in the Niger river basin.

From the Central African region, Cameroon said it ratified the Convention in August 1995 and added that the region lacks a subregional organization and suggested assigning the development of a subregional action programme to an intergovernmental organization in the region. The Central African Republic said its decision on ratification will be taken in March.

The OAU said a regional coordinating unit has been established. Cooperation is planned with IGADD, AMU, CILSS and SADC. On behalf of the African NGOs, Jacqueline Nkoyok of CONGAC said only a small portion of the resources for preventing desertification reaches the grassroots, making it hard for NGOs to fulfill their CCD responsibilities.

Sweden said many of its new development assistance proposals include the CCD's holistic and bottom-up approaches. More than half of Norway's US$1.2 billion development assistance goes to Sub-Saharan Africa. The European Commission is undertaking a quantitative and qualitative review that will serve as the report of the Community to COP-1. The financial protocol linked to the agreement amending the Lomé IV Convention amounts to ECU14.625 million for 1995-2000. African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries signatories to the Lomé Convention will be able to seek support from the Community.

The UK supports, through its bilateral aid programmes, 51 projects in 15 countries relevant to the objectives of the CCD, at a value of £22 million. Multilateral programmes exist, but individual African countries must ensure that the objectives of the CCD are reflected in their policies to receive support. The Netherlands requested that at INCD-9 countries should make presentations on how coordination between an affected country and the donor community could be structured. Canada stated that ratifying the CCD is essential and said Canadian International Development Agency's (CIDA) field representatives will receive information on the CCD at their annual meetings. In collaboration with IFAD, Canada will provide support to Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Uganda and Tanzania.

Japan has set aside US$1.6 billion for activities in Africa and proposed an Asia-Africa forum for desertification to encourage exchange of experiences between regions. UNSO Director Sam Nyambi reviewed UNSO's activities, including US$11 million to support work in about 20 African countries and 10 countries elsewhere and almost US$500,000 to establish NDFs. He said getting the NAP process right, establishing true partnerships between governments and other actors, and harmonizing external parties' contributions to NAPs are the challenges.

Switzerland stressed the need for information and awareness and the appropriate adaptation of new technologies. It is important to involve institutions other than governments, such as the private sector. Germany said it will support IGADD and already cooperates with CILSS and OSS. It has taken the responsibility of being Chef-de-file in Mali. DM5.5 million has been devoted to Namibia's national programme to combat desertification, DM2 million to Mali and DM3 million for a desert prevention enabling fund. She regretted that few requests for support for activities in other countries had been received.

Egypt proposed that delegations should submit written national implementation reports well in advance of INCD sessions to enable the Secretariat to compile a report on actions and funds. Summarizing the discussion, INCD Chair Kjellén concluded that there is an impressive scope of action involving many stakeholders. Coordination with donors is complicated and continued efforts are needed. Despite positive indicators, the following are needed: improved coordination; cross-fertilization; the inclusion of desertification in World Food Summit preparations; holistic and integrated approaches; and recognition of the role of women.

ACTION TAKEN IN ASIA: India offered to host consultations on the Asian Regional Annex and is coordinating a concept paper on its implementation. ESCAP said a regional meeting held in Myanmar discussed the region's response to the CCD and prepared an analytical review of the NAPs and follow-up action for the period 1995-2000.

China elaborated on its experiences with desertification prevention. The Desert Reclamation Association, a Chinese Women's NGO, communicated success in reclaiming previously arid lands.

Activities in the Aral Sea basin were reported by Uzbekistan, which has hosted a UN conference on sustainable development in the basin, and Turkmenistan, which plans to establish a center for scientific information and sustainable development of economies. Kazakstan pointed out problems related to awareness-raising, including authorities who do not see the value of international participation and lack of initiative in people trained under the socialist system. UNDP said it is ready to collaborate with affected countries around the Aral Sea to provide technical backstopping and mobilize additional resources. The Russian Federation suggested establishing an arid lands center. Armenia is giving priority to creating a NAP and staff training and cooperates with FAO and the World Bank.

UNDP and UNEP plan to hold a workshop involving the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries as well as Jordan, Yemen, Iran, Syria and Lebanon. Saudi Arabia reported on a conference on the CCD for the GCC countries held in November 1995 and Iran emphasized the need for a strong regional mechanism, where experience should be used through enhanced partnerships.

Israel has collaborated with Jordan and the PLO, as well as with China and India, and plans to establish an international educational institute for desertification. Palestine announced plans to ratify the CCD.

Nepal said financial resources are needed to implement its NAP. SCOPE, on behalf of Asian NGOs, said following their regional meeting in Islamabad NGOs resolved to organize national forums in each country, an electronic mail conference and a resource center on desertification.

ACTION TAKEN IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN REGION: Ecuador will use an analysis of desertification and drought as guidelines for its NAP, which will be produced through a series of workshops. Bolivia has submitted its NAP, which is multidisciplinary, utilizes input from 100 entities, and is action-oriented. Mexico, the first Party to ratify the CCD, said resource allocation should be balanced toward all affected areas, while recognizing the gravity of Africa's problems.

Chile believes the main problems are socioeconomic rather than technological. Its NAP will be launched in June following a series of workshops. The Dominican Republic said it must cooperate with Haiti to create an island-wide programme. Haiti said work on desertification is occurring under general environmental protection efforts. Political constraints have hampered ratification.

Argentina emphasized horizontal cooperation, including a programme with Uruguay associated with both CCD and Biodiversity Convention actions and efforts with the Valdivia Group (Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and Uruguay). Panama said despite the warm, humid climate it has areas of major soil degradation requiring increased environmental protection. Cuba said the GM should not only facilitate and coordinate but also manage and administer its own funds. Latin American NGOs highlighted the broad regional participation at an NGO meeting in Ica, Peru, which proposed regional action, use of local and national funds, and a participatory approach.

UNEP's Franklin Cardy said the institution is working at integrating several initiatives, including water harvesting and desertification, to demonstrate these process linkages and their long-term interaction with climate.

ACTION TAKEN IN THE NORTHERN MEDITERRANEAN: The discussion on this region was brief. Spain reported on the February regional meeting and said countries in the region would soon designate national focal points. A conference on research and development vis-�-vis desertification is planned for later this year.

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