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V - IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PLAN OF ACTION TO CONTROL DESERTIFICATION

4O2. In considering agenda item 7 at the 3th and 9th meetings of the session, the Council had before it documents UNEP/GC.8/6 and Corr.1 and 2, Add.1 and Corr.2, Add.2 and Corr.1 and Add.3 and Corr.l.

403. The Executive Director, reviewing the progress achieved on the implementation of the Plan of Action, ll/ including action taken to implement the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and decisions of the Golerning Council, described the work of the UNEP Desertification Unit. the United Nations Sudano-Sahelian Office, the Inter-Agency Working Group on Desertification and the Consultative Group for Desertification Control, as well as developments relating to the S7ecial Account and the study on additional Peasures for financing the Plan of Action. The Council was also informed of action by other United Nations agencies, by the regional bodies and by Governments at the national level. He also reviewed the progress in the Sudano-Sahelian region, and concluded by emphasizing that the progress so far reported in the imdlerientation of the Plan of Action was not commensurate with the magnitude of the problem: there were still obstacles hindering its full implementation, and he requested the Council's views on how to overcome those obstacles.

404. Almost all delegations expressed satisfaction at the progress achieved by UNEP in following up and coordinating implementation of the Plan of Action, and commended the Executive Director and the Desertification Unit on their performance. They also commended the standard of the documentation presented to the Council.

405. There was general endorsement of the Executive Director's policy assigning high priority to combating desertification. Some delegations stressed the urgency of desertification control in arid and semi-arid areas. Two delegations, however, pointed out that desertification was not restricted to such zones, and serious desertification problems existed in subhumid regions. Several delegations, while recognizing the need for urgent action against desertification, recalled that desertification had to be considered in the context of over--all social and economic conditions and that an integrated approach towards desertification control would have the most far-reaching impact.

406. Several delegations agreed that implementation of the Plan of Action to Combat Desertification was hindered by lack of financing. Many delegations stressed that bilateral and existing multilateral channels of financing should be used for financing the Plan of Action. Some delegations reported on their levels of funding of anti-desertification activities and declared their Governments' intention to increase allocations in this respect in 1981. One delegation

ll/ See A/COiTF-74/36, chap. I, Plan of Action to Combat Desertification, adopted by the United Nations Conference on Desertification held at Nairobi from 29 August to 9 September 1977.

announced its Government's decision to contribute @l.8 million towards financing of the project on restocking of the Arabic Green Belt submitted to the Consultative Groui,) for Desertification Control in larch lgru'O. One delegation, referring to its Cyovernr-ent's readiness to provide a substantial contribution from development assistance funds to a s - special '@clevelopment window' of UTTEP to finance activities related to environment in the third itorld, provided that other Governments were prepared to do the same, said- that such E..eans could in part find an appropriate use in measures against desertification.

407. Several delegations supported the appeal by the General Assembly to Governments to contribute to the special account to combat desertification. One delegation said its Government had already paid a contribution to the special account, and expected others to do so. Some delegations said they did not consider the special account the most appropriate mechanism, and declared that their Governments would not contribute to it. One delegation proposed that a pledging conference for the special account be held during the thirty-fifth session of the General Assembly.

408. liany delegations of countries affected by desertification reviewed activities and progress achieved in their countries in combating desertification, and indicated their wish to share their experience with others. In addition to the corrective anti-desertification measures described by several delegations, two delegations reported on collaboration with L-MEP in conducting training courses in specific fields. One delegation reported progress in implementation of recommendation 4 of the United 1,Tations Conference on Desertification on the combination of industrialization with development of agriculture. Some delegations reported initiation of monitoring activities, and one proposed that its national monitoring activity could in the future form part of the GEI,TS programme. Two delegations reported progress in preparation of national plans of action, while another said that environmental legislation was being prepared.

409. @fiany delegations referred, in highly favourable terms, to the work of the United Nations Sahelian Office (UNSO) in assisting the countries of the Sudano-Sahelian region in their desertification control activities. Several welcomed UNSO's integrated project approach and the -progress made in implementing the Plan of Action to Combat Desertification in the region. One delegation observed that UITEP's and UNSO's stimulating and catalysing role was a major factor in the effective results achieved by the Consultative Group for Desertification Control, and they confirmed their financial commitment to an integrated anti.-desertification project in the Sudano-Sahelian region. Another delegation stated that the joint UNEP/UNDP venture was a new and remarkable effort by the United Nations to deal with the problem of desertification, and constituted an effective continuation of the work of the Desertification Conference. Several comments were made on the helpful and concrete project information which had been made available to donors.

410. A delegation from a Sudano-Sahelian country, notin.-, that UNSO's coordinating role was well-established and producing results, highlighted the initiative displayed in organizing and financing the joint meeting of the Permanent Inter-State Committee on Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), UNSO and the Club du Sahel resulting in a joint CILSS/UNSO desertification control strategy -nd programme for the countries of the Sahel which was subsequently approved by the CILSS Heads of State Conference.

411. All speakers were unanimous in supporting the addition of Djibouti to the list of Sudano-Sahelian countries and the inclusion of Guinea and Guinea-Bissau among the countries eligible to receive assistance through UNSO in implementing the Plan of Action to Combat Desertification. There was similar unanimity regarding the inclusion of the pilot project for the improvement and restoration of the Foutah-Djallon massif in Guinea in the UNEP desertification control programme. One delegation requested that the Foutah-Djallon project be submitted for consideration by the Governing Council at its ninth session. Another indicated its Government's readiness to extend assistance, through the provision of experts, for the implementation of the pilot -project.

412. It was generally felt that implementation of the Plan of Action to Combat Desertification would benefit from more co-operation on the part of the United Nations system. One delegation expressed concern that none of the regional commissions so far had been able to organize an intergovernmental regional meeting or seminar on the implementation of the Plan. Another suggested that the joint WIO-Desertification Unit project on the impact of climate variability on desertification mentioned in paragraph 43 of document U@TEP/GC.0/6 might be merged with the current activities of the AGRHY@4ET project of I.R40 in the Sahel region.

413. Several delegations expressed views they considered likely to assist in implementation of the Plan of Action to Combat Desertification. Two emphasized the importance of popular participation in anti-desertification activities at the field level. One delegation suggested concrete assistance in desertification monitoring, training, monitoring of human conditions and land-,.ise planning. Another said that the Desertification Control Bulletin could usefully become a liaison bulletin and a channel of communication between all concerned with the problem. It could also contain a bibliography of scientific publications and technical information of value to the general public in affected regions. One delegation advocated support for a study to be conducted by UNEP and UNESCO on the relationship between man, his social values and his habitat on the basis of teachings of great religions. Another referred to the study on cost-benefit analysis of anti-desertification measures to be conducted jointly by two member States.

414. Delegations generally endorsed the views expressed in the ACC report to the Governing Council and took note of the major constraints which hindered implementation of the Plan of Action to Combat Desertification as underlined in the ACC report. Some delegations pointed out the importance of those constraints and said that it merited careful consideration by the Council.

415. Several delegations stressed the importance of interagency co-operation and co-ordination of anti-desertification activities in the context of the Inter-Agency Working Group on Desertification, which reported to ACC. A number of delegations noted the importance of the compendium of anti-desertification activities in the United Nations system which was under preparation by the Working Group. One delegation said that the compendium would improve co-ordination within the United Nations system and could lay the foundation of coordinated programming of anti--desertification activities at both multilateral and bilateral levels.

416. Many delegations commended the Executive Director on the preparations for the second session of the Consultative Group for Desertification Control, and expressed their Governments' satisfaction at the positive results of that session. Several delegations said that they attached great importance to the work of the Consultative Group and that it provided excellent opportunity for UDEP to pursue the implementation of the Plan of Action. One delegation reiterated the call by the General Assembly,, and urged donor Governments to participate actively in the work of the Consultative Group. Many delegations expressed their satisfaction that the Consultative Group had become a useful platform and could catalyse the mobilization of resources.

417. One delegation said that its Government, in view of the positive results of the Consultative Group's work on its second session, in which it had participated as observer, had decided to become a core member of the Group. The representative of the Commission of the European Communities said that, in the light of the substantive results of the last Group's meeting, CEC had decided to join the Consultative Group as a full member.

418. Some delegations expressed agreement with the outline of a study on additional resources for financing the Plan of Action to Combat Desertification to be Drepared by a group of high-level specialists in international financing, which was forwarded, with the concurrence of the Secretary-General, to the Council in accordance with General Assembly resolution 34/184 of 18 December 1979. One delegation, while agreeing with the outline, said that the issues mentioned in the study fell within the jurisdiction of several United -i\Tations bodies; for that reason, another member of the system mi7ht have been assigned to prepare the study.

419. One delegation was of the opinion that the study should not concentrate on new mechanisms which could not be implemented in the near future. Another said it was not convinced that the study should be allocated Driority, while another considered it a repetitive exercise. One delegation stressed that the study should consider the financing of emergency -nrogran-mes to combat the effects of drought.

420. In responding to the debate, the Executive Director stressed that UITEP's role in the implementation of the Plan of Action to Combat Desertification was one of co.-ordination and that the actual execution was done by the Governments themselves. He welcomed the general support voiced for the work of the Consultative Grour for Desertification Control and the positive evaluation of its second session. Tio more than one meeting of the Group would be held each year. He had no problems with some of the suggestions made regarding the nature of the Grou-p's work but drew attention to the main function assigned to the Group by the General Assembly, that of assistance in the mobilization of funds for the implementation of the Plan of Action. It was not the Group's responsibility to consider req - uests by countries for assistance from UNEP in preparation of their national antidesertificaticn plans.

421. He welcomed the development of two national anti-desertification plans now under active preparation. GEMS officials would initiate the necessary contact regarding the offer to include a national monitoring scheme in the GEMS T)ro7ran-me, and he would consider the Droposal to merge the project on climate variability with the AGRHY@4ET project in the Sahel. Ilhile he agreed that the effectiveness of funding was important in combating desertification, the probletn- centred on the unavailability of the resources themselves.

Action by the Governing Council

422. At the 12th meeting of the session, on 29 April 1980, the Governing Council adopted by consensus a draft decision suggested by the Bureau on Implementation of the Plan of Action to Combat Desertification (see annex I, decision 8/17).