Integrated Planning and Management of Land ResourcesFAOCSDUNEP
World Summit on Sustainable Development, South Africa 2002

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Looking Forward to Rio+10: Reporting Progress on Land and Agriculture

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Message 42

Subject: Message 42 - Intervention by Rajeb Boulharouf, regarding the draf t Task Managers' Reports Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2001 11:48:32 +0100 From: RIO10-Moderator To: "'RIO10-L@mailserv.fao.org'" I would like to thank you for the reports and the opportunity provided to exchanges comments and ideas. In our view, the reports cover all the issues at stake and provide a good level of details. Allow me however, behalf of the CCD secretariat, to provide you with the following comments. 1) The CCD derives its origin from a direct recommendation of the UNCED Summit, as such is the only legally binding instrument of the so called Rio Generation Conventions covered by this reporting process, to stem from a direct recommendation of Agenda 21 (Chapter 12 para 40). Its implementation process should therefore, in our view, benefit from a special attention from the Rio plus ten Conference. In this regard, the issue of National reports submitted by CCD country parties to the COP constitutes one of the most reliable indicators of both the pace and the quality of its implementation process. Accordingly, part I of the draft report should present a more in depth review of this process. In its present form, the draft report only refers to it in a foot note form in page 4. It is in our view important to underline that, despite limited resources (the CCD does not have access to GEF funds under "enabling activities") country parties, particularly affected developing parties, responded in an outstanding way to this formal requirement. To this day more than 175 reports have been submitted, which in the light of the prevailing financial conditions outlined above, constitute a real achievement and reflects the level of commitment of parties to this process. Furthermore, the CCD reporting process offered the opportunity to show the efficiency of inter-agency cooperation in the implementation process of the Convention. It is to be noted in this respect that UNEP made a significant financial contribution to assist African countries in the elaboration of their respective reports. We would therefore like to suggest the following wording to complete para 17: " By the end of 2000, 175 reports on the measures taken to implement the Convention have been submitted to the Conference of the Parties by the affected countries, donor countries, international, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. These reports provide detailed information on the strategies and priorities established within the framework of sustainable development; institutional measures; participatory processes in support of the preparation and implementation of the action programmes and consultative processes in support of the launching of the implementation of the national action programmes." The reference to the Ad hoc Working Group is factual and well balanced and should therefore be kept as presented in the text but as a paragraph rather than a foot note. 2. The report rightfully underlines the essential role played by the NGO community in all matters pertaining to the promotion of sustainable development, this is particularly true for fragile arid ecosystems. Accordingly, the CCD has given an unprecedented role to civil society by embodying, in the text of the convention, the concept of "participatory approach". Furthermore, and aware of the unique expertise that lays within the civil society, the Conference of the Parties has decided to dedicate at least two half days of its scheduled plenary sessions for an interactive debate on the CCD implementation process between Government representatives and NGOs, confirming thereby the priority given to the non governmental input in this process. Finally, it has to be noted that country parties that have submitted their report have established national coordinating bodies for the elaboration of their National Action programmes (NAPs) where NGOs are fully associated and plays an active role. As this specific issue was raised under item 3 of "Gaps ands Issues", it would be important to note that such coordination mechanism are being actively foreseen within the implementation process of one of the majors legally binding instruments called for by Agenda 21. 3. The draft report (part II) rightfully points out under "Mobilizing additional means for the land and agriculture cluster and related capacity-building efforts" that the difficulties in mobilizing funds for the implementation of the CCD are symptomatic of a general decrease in funds allocation to activities pertaining to the promotion of sustainable development in fragile ecosystems. This is particularly true regarding the CCD, mainly because of a severe lack of financial predictability. The CCD is indeed, the only one of the so-called Rio Conventions that does not have access to a centralized financial mechanism for its implementation (like the GEF for the UNFCCC and CBD Conventions). Although it is true that, as stated in your draft report (part I), "Over the last five years or so, GEF has been giving increased importance to land degradation in the context of climate change and loss of bio-diversity", it is also necessary to point out that the progress achieved through the "New Delhi Statement" was of a rather limited nature in terms of bringing a much needed financial additionality to the implementation process of the UNCCD. Indeed, it is important to underline here that the analysis of the indirect approach pursued so far by GEF, since its New Delhi Assembly, of linking land degradation to its focal areas, reveals that there are inherent constraints in this modality that have limited the actual resources allocated. The total direct resources assigned for land degradation activities amount to a mere 1.5% of the total funds assigned to all the focal areas. It is essentially for this reason that the GEF Council requested its CEO to explore modalities for the best options to enhance the support of the Facility in assisting affected countries, particularly those in Africa, in implementing the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), taking into account the third replenishment. The fourth session of the Conference of the Parties to the CCC also acknowledged the Council decision and requested its Executive Secretary to follow-up and report to the Parties on this important issue. 4. By opposite to its two other sister conventions (UNFCCC and CBD) the CCD cannot rely on "physical" parameters for the monitoring of its implementation process. This is the rational behind the regional approach chosen by the convention, which relies on its Regional Implementation Annexes for the purpose of assessing implementation. Under these circumstances, the National Action Programmes (NAPs), the Sub-Regional Action Programmes (SRAPs) and the Regional Action Programmes (RAPs) are not only extremely important instruments for the effective implementation of the convention but do also constitute very reliable tools for measuring the efficiency and success of its implementation process. We therefore believe that a more detailed reference to the NAPs, SRAPs and RAPs should also be made. We are therefore providing for your consideration the following wording: "Several affected developing countries have initiated consultative processes that aim at identifying ways and means of enhancing the implementation of the Convention by integrating or harmonizing the National Action Programmes with social and economic development planning frameworks as expressed in the NAP process. This should be done while maintaining the integrity of the drylands concerns. Given their limited resources, the affected developing countries have indicated the need for a structured support from their international partners. External partners need to review their funding policies and procedures in order to allow the flexibility of programmes and activities resulting from the integration process. At the sub-regional level, various consultations have led to the identification, formulation and adoption of Sub-Regional Action Programmes (SRAPs). These programmes aim at identifying common interests and maximizing cooperation between neighboring countries sharing natural resources. At the regional level, the affected developing countries have identified priority activities, which lay the foundation for the Regional Action Programmes. The programmes aim at strengthening regional potential for information management, capacity building, research / development and technology exchanges, notably through the channels provided by thematic programme networks. The work for the preparation of Regional Thematic Programmes in Africa and in Asia, focusing inter alia on sustainable land use management; sustainable management and use of rangelands; development of sustainable agricultural and ranching production systems; Desertification monitoring and assessment; strengthening capacities in the areas of combating Desertification and mitigating the effects of drought; integrated management of water resources and development of new and renewable energy sources and technologies has also started. At the inter-regional level the African, Asian and Latin America and the Caribbean regions have initiated South-South cooperation schemes supported by development partners which aim at enhancing implementation of the Convention through exchange of experiences, knowledge and technologies." 5. The draft report (Part I) states under "Gaps and issues" at the international levels that "Our understanding of the mechanisms and factors affecting Desertification and drought is limited". This is true as it is for the other global environmental issues, particularly climate change. Accordingly, as for all global environmental issues, we should always recommend the application of the UNCED agreed "precautionary principle". I hope that you will find these comments useful and thank you once again for these draft reports and the initiative of the e-conference. Best regards, Rajeb Boulharouf, ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Coordinator, External Relations and Public Information Unit, UNCCD

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