Press Releases

Note No 197
17 June 2002

EXECUTIVE SECRETARY CALLS FOR FINANCIAL COMMITMENT FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION

BONN, 14 June – On the eighth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought (UNCCD), Mr. Hama Arba Diallo, executive secretary of the convention’s secretariat, called on the international community to make financial commitments to enable countries affected by land degradation to implement the UNCCD.

"In order for the convention to move from preparation to the implementation of national action programmes, predictable financial resources are imperative," he noted. He pressed the leaders of the international community meeting at the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) in August-September 2002, to follow on their pledges made ten years ago at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro.

"Desertification will be among the most important issues to be discussed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development," said Mr. Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary General. The Draft Plan of Implementation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development called on the Second Assembly of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to consider "making GEF a financial mechanism of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification."

As the only convention to stem directly from a recommendation of Agenda 21, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification is a key instrument in addressing both poverty alleviation and environmental protection within the framework of sustainable development. "The fight against desertification is fundamentally a fight against poverty," Mr. Diallo said.

It is the only legally binding universal convention to address desertification and drought with a focus on sustainable development, which has reached maturity and become truly global in reach. A fifth regional annex for Central and Eastern Europe, adopted in 2000, entered into force in September 2001, complementing the existing four annexes for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia, and the Northern Mediterranean.

Desertification affects over 110 countries. "Every year, an estimated $42 billion in income and 6 million hectares of productive land are being lost because of desertification, land degradation and declining agricultural productivity," Mr. Annan said. Over 135 million are at risk of being driven from their land as a result.

The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought will be celebrated worldwide on June 17. Most of the 179 countries Parties to the convention will launch activities such as round-table discussions, field trips and media campaigns, at the national and local levels involving governmental and non-governmental organizations, the media, and other stakeholders

For further information, please contact Ms. Cheemin Kwon at ckwon@unccd.int
or tel: (49-228) 815-2847.

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