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PLENARY

Executive Secretary Diallo reviewed the issues raised during Wednesday’s discussion on urgent measures for Africa. Some delegates raised problems they had encountered. Questions were raised on whether difficulties were due to lack of information or lack of access to information. He recalled Germany’s suggestion that developed countries prepare information for their administrations and public.

INTERIM ACTION IN ASIA: CHINA’s national actions include enhancing the role of governmental organizations in coordinating policies related to drought and training local policy makers to better understand CCD-related policies. Ms. Niu Yuqin, NGO representative of the China Desert Reclamation Association, discussed efforts to fight desertification in her village, for which she has been awarded the national labor hero award.

ARMENIA has introduced bills on environmental, vegetation and wildlife protection to create a system to protect natural resources. Armenia will look at atomic energy because it is the most acceptable of traditional energy resources. AFGHANISTAN reviewed the topographical and climatic characteristics of his country. Due to landmines and damaged bridges, a small area of rangeland is used for grazing. He called on UNDP, FAO and other agencies to help Afghanistan’s efforts.

IRAN elaborated on eight activities the country has initiated to implement the CCD, including involving women and youth. He stated that the Asian regional network, DESCONAP, can be the main mechanism through which the regional Annex can be implemented.

RUSSIA stated that although it has not yet ratified the CCD, it has undertaken various initiatives to implement the CCD. Russia hopes to bring together the administrative heads of the countries in the region to develop a plan of action to combat desertification.

India, on behalf of the ASIAN region, reported on the regional meeting held in August in India, at which several resolutions were reached, including the need to: have institutional arrangements and the involvement of all relevant government actors; and establish regional institutional networks that are coordinated by a national institution that could act as focal points for the NAP.

BANGLADESH emphasized two points that are central to the fight against drought and desertification: eradication of poverty and people’s participation. JORDAN’s efforts in affected areas include land rehabilitation and the development of a land inventory. Jordan is cooperating with its neighbors, including Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Syria. YEMEN is helping local sectors and NGOs take part in the struggle against desertification. He expressed hope that considerable outside support would be available to help develop the national programme and support its implementation. ISRAEL noted joint initiatives with several Middle East countries. Negotiations with Germany are expected to conclude soon, resulting in a new academic programme offering a masters degree in desert sciences.

MYANMAR is planning an awareness raising seminar. He stated that desertification is a barrier to sustainable food security and that land use patterns should be made environmentally sound. NEPAL has tried to include local people in all activities. He hoped the GM would mobilize substantial resources, and that the least developed countries would receive special attention. Executive Secretary Diallo noted that the bulk of bilateral funding for activities in Asia has come from Switzerland, Japan and the Netherlands.

INTERIM MEASURES IN LATIN AMERICA: CUBA has created an advisory body to elaborate the national programme and has special programmes for territories in affected areas. URUGUAY described its drylands situation emphasizing the socio- economic dimensions. CHILE has carried out two pilot studies, organized awareness raising activities, and initiated regional cooperation on research. BRAZIL highlighted: the creation of a NAP; the establishment of the national information network, “Redesert”; and the regional development of indicators and benchmarks.

In PERU a third NAP has been completed and a political decision has been made to include NGOs as much as possible in decision-making on drylands problems. BOLIVIA has officially adopted its NAP and held awareness days involving the media and local communities. MEXICO has organized national workshops to develop state plans to combat desertification, is sponsoring a national reforestation programme, and is cooperating with Brazil to assist Haiti to combat desertification. Spain, on behalf of the ANNEX IV COUNTRIES (Northern Mediterranean), elaborated on their cooperation. A regional reflection group was created in the interim period, national focal points were identified, and contacts between organizations were established. SPAIN emphasized its own commitment to the CCD process and implementation, through participation in regional meetings and funding to activities in Latin America and Africa.

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