United Nations

A/50/516


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

6 October 1995

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


Fiftieth session
Agenda item 96 (b)


ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT:  DESERTIFICATION
AND DROUGHT

Observance of World Day to Combat Desertification and
Drought:  implementation of resolution 49/115

Report of the Secretary-General


A.  Introduction

1.   By its  resolution 49/115  of 19  December 1995,  the General  Assembly
proclaimed  17 June World  Day to Combat Desertification  and Drought, to be
observed beginning in 1995.

2.  In that resolution, the Assembly invited all States to  devote the World
Day to  promoting public  awareness on  international cooperation to  combat
desertification and the effects of drought and on the implementation of  the
Convention  to  Combat  Desertification  in  Those  Countries   Experiencing
Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa.

3.  It further invited the Secretary-General (a)  to make recommendations on
ways and  means by which  the Secretariat could  assist Member States,  upon
their request, in organizing  their national activities  for the  observance
of the World Day,  and (b) to make the  necessary arrangements to ensure the
success of the observance by the United Nations of the World Day.

4.    The  present  report  reviews  measures  taken  in  implementation  of
resolution 49/115.   It is closely  related to  document A/50/515, reviewing
measures taken  pursuant to  resolution 49/234  of 23 December  1994 on  the
elaboration  of an  international convention  to combat  desertification  in
those  countries   experiencing  serious   drought  and/or  desertification,
particularly in Africa.





95-30115 (E)   241095/...
*9530115*
B.  Ways and means by which the Secretariat could assist

    Member States in organizing their national activities

5.  Ways  and means by  which the  interim secretariat  could assist  Member
States, upon their request, in organizing  their national activities for the
observance of  the World  Day are summarized  below.  It  is understood,  of
course, that assistance  by the Secretariat can  only be provided within the
limit of its resources.

6.  Within this context, the Secretariat could provide  assistance, upon the
request of Member States, through one or more of the following measures:

  (a)   Facilitating the procurement of  information kits  on the Convention
comprising the  text of  the Convention  in booklet  format, an  explanatory
leaflet and fact sheets, as well as a simplified guide to the Convention;

  (b)   Facilitating  the  procurement  of background  materials  to  Member
States for dissemination;

  (c)   Providing advice  and suggestions  on activities,  based on previous
experiences;

  (d)  Giving advice on how  best to involve non-governmental  organizations
(NGOs) and how to relate to the NGO network;

  (e)   Making  staff members  of the  Secretariat  available  to assist  in
selected events of particular significance;

  (f)     Preparing  a   compilation  of  the  various  celebrations  and/or
activities  world  wide  and  making  such  information  available   through
electronic means.


C.  Arrangements to ensure the success of the observance
    by the United Nations of the World Day             

7.   Consistent  with the  resolution,  the  interim secretariat  and United
Nations programmes and specialized agencies held, on 17 June 1995, a  number
of activities and events  in various capitals world wide.  The main  purpose
of  these  activities was  to  raise  public  awareness  and target  special
audiences  with a  view to  ensuring  the  successful implementation  of the
Convention.  These were in addition to  awareness days and other  activities
at  the  national  and  subregional  levels  held  during  that  period,  to
implement  resolution  5/1  adopted  by  the  Intergovernmental  Negotiating
Committee for  the  Elaboration of  an  International  Convention to  Combat
Desertification  in  Those  Countries  Experiencing  Serious  Drought and/or
Desertification,  Particularly in Africa, on urgent measures for Africa, and
interim action in other regions.

8.  Major activities included the following:

  (a)  A policy dialogue  in Geneva on the  theme "Combating desertification
through alternative energy  strategies:  a focus  on Africa" and  a briefing
session  for  the  media,  organized  by  the  interim  secretariat  and the
International Academy of Environmental Safety;

  (b)   The production  and launching  of (i)  a simplified  version of  the
Convention  entitled  "Down  to  Earth"  jointly  produced  by  the  interim
secretariat  and  the Centre  for  our  Common  Future,  with the  financial
support of  the Government  of Switzerland, the  United Nations  Environment
Programme (UNEP)  and the  International Fund  for Agricultural  Development
(IFAD), (ii) a Convention kit comprising  a booklet, an explanatory  leaflet
and 10 fact sheets, and (iii) a simplified guide to the Convention;

  (c)   The production by  the interim secretariat, in  cooperation with the
United  Nations Development Programme  (UNDP), of  a video  report filmed in
Cape  Verde  and   Mauritania,  portraying   the  causes   and  effects   of

desertification;

  (d)   A  presentation ceremony  and  awards  for effective  action against
desertification  by  UNEP,  and  celebrations  for  Desertification  Day  in
Nairobi, as well as a UNEP-sponsored regional conference on  desertification
in Almaty;

  (e)  A seminar  on desertification and drought organized by IFAD in  Rome,
as well  as the  launching  of the  publication  "Down  to Earth",  a  press
briefing  and a  joint celebration  by  IFAD and  the Food  and  Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations (FAO);

  (f)   An  exhibition, an  information  brochure  on its  activities and  a
public meeting organized  by the United Nations Educational, Scientific  and
Cultural Organization  (UNESCO) in  Paris, together with the  Observatory of
Sahara and Sahel (OSS);

  (g)  The production of posters, pamphlets, press  releases, as well as the
holding of interviews and press briefingsby various agencies andprogrammes;

  (h)    Many  activities  of  a  similar  nature  organized  by subregional
organizations, Governments and NGOs at the subregional and national levels.

9.  In addition  to the above,  two campaigns were mounted jointly  by Earth
Action, a London-based NGO,  and the interim secretariat,  one aimed at  the
media  and  the other  at  parliamentarians.    The  campaigns comprised  an
editorial advisory and a parliamentary alert on desertification.


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