Press Releases

SG/SM/7987
ENV/DEV/599
9
October 2001

IMPLEMENTATION OF DESERTIFICATION CONVENTION A FACTOR FOR STABILITY, ENSURING FOOD SECURITY, PREVENTING MIGRATORY FLOWS, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS

NEW YORK, 8 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of a message by the Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the fifth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Geneva:

It gives me great pleasure to convey my greetings to the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.

Next September in Johannesburg, the international community will assess progress made in fulfilling the commitments made at the 1992 Earth Summit and in advancing the global quest for sustainable development. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification is certainly one of the most tangible outcomes of this process. More than 175 countries are now parties to it, confirming the world-wide support for concerted action against this global threat.

By joining in this struggle, these countries are also engaged in the fight against poverty. Indeed, in poor countries, the geography of rural poverty coincides with that of arid lands and drought.

Moreover, implementation of the Convention can also make an important contribution to the preservation of stability by ensuring food security and preventing massive migrations. About one sixth of humankind is directly threatened by desertification and recurrent drought, and more than 135 million people are at risk of being displaced.

In my message to you last year, I urged the international community to mobilize adequate resources and avail them to affected developing nations. I am happy to note that my call has been heard, as last May the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council took a decision to enhance the Facility’s financial support to the implementation of the Convention. I congratulate the Council members for this important move and encourage them in cooperation with the Conference of the Parties, to complete the remaining steps for the GEF to become the main financial mechanism of the Convention.

I urge all parties to continue to provide the resources and other support needed for the Convention to achieve its vital goal of helping the human community to address the environmental and social causes of desertification and its consequences. Please accept my best wishes for a successful conference.

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