Don't demote desertification convention to second class instrument, says G-77 Chairman

UNITED NATIONS, January 7 (G-77/IPS) — The chairman of the Group of 77 Ambassador Daudi Mwakawago of Tanzania said the desertification problem is a global environmental phenomenon on an equal footing with the problems affecting the ozone layer and climate change.

“The Convention to combat desertification cannot therefore be demoted to a second-class international legal instrument by comparison with the Convention on Climate Change and Biodiversity,” he said.

Addressing the 10th session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for the Convention, held in New York, Ambassador Mwakawago pointed out that the test of the credibility of the North-South partnership is, to a large extent, to be found in the mobilization of sufficient financial resources, new and additional funding and a transfer of ecologically sound technologies to benefit developing nations.

On all three aspects, Western industrial nations have not been forthcoming as they are with other Conventions.

The chairman said that the global mechanism for the Convention to Combat Desertification “should receive equal interests and given the same attention and priority as the international conventions signed at Rio de Janeiro.”

The decision to go ahead with the Conventions were made at the June 1992 Earth Summit in Rio.

The chairman said that the Negotiating Committee should also formulate concrete recommendations to the conference of the parties regarding two important issues: the mobilization of substantive new and additional resources and the transfer of technology.

Only then, he said, that the Convention will be an effective operational instrument which will halt and reverse the phenomenon of desertification.

He also said that the phenomenon of desertification spares no continent but it is especially in Africa that it has reached the greatest impact.

Today, desertification is affecting more than 40 countries on the African continent, and has been swallowing up about six million hectares every year, and making totally sterile their productive capacity.