(Beijing Framework for Action on Combating Desertification)

A.    First Asia-Africa Forum on Combating Desertification and/or Mitigating the Effects  of Drought (Beijing, August 1996)

Affected country Parties, in collaboration with other Parties and the international community, should cooperate to ensure the promotion of an enabling international environment in the implementation of the Convention. Such cooperation should also cover fields of technology transfer as well as scientific research and development, information collection and dissemination and financial resources (From Article 12 of Convention to Combat Desertification).

1. Preamble

1. Today, more than 900 million people in some 100 countries are affected by desertification and/or drought which are problems of global dimension which affect all regions of the world. But, the situation is serious in 80 developing countries, particularly in Africa and in Asia where vast areas and a large number of people are affected.

2. Similarity of situation should unite African and Asian countries and should command the development of their cooperation on combating desertification and/or mitigating the effects of drought. Furthermore, differences in endowments between the two regions and variations in stages of technological and economic development offer ample opportunities for cooperation.

3. The Asia-Africa Forum on Combating Desertification was held in Beijing, China from August 5-11,1996 to enable African and Asian countries and their development partner, to develop this framework for action as a basis for achieving sustainable development in affected Asian and African countries.

4. The Framework for Action builds upon and reflects the principles, objectives and processes established by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa, the United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s(UN-NADAF), the TOKYO Declaration on African Development, the BANDUNG Declaration on Africa and Asia Cooperation. It should be read and interpreted in light of these documents.

5. The term "Africa" or "African countries" as used in this Framework for Action refers to all African countries. Similarly, the term "Asia" or "Asian countries" range from city-state like Singapore, to giants like China or India. But, the focus of this paper is on affected African and Asian countries. The matters to be discussed entail treatment of cooperation issues at all levels, in particular at regional and inter-regional levels.

2. Scope and Objectives

2.1 Scope

6. The scope of this Framework for Action is to mobilize cooperation between African and Asian countries and the wide range of all other interest parties or actors whose concerted, coordinated and effective actions are required to implement the Convention to Combat Desertification.

2.2 Objectives

7. Asia-Africa cooperation on combating desertification and /or mitigating the effects of drought offers opportunities as well as challenges. It is an opportunity because there is potential in many areas such as capacity building, transfer of technology, know-how, research and development and so on .In turn, it is a challenge because establishing robust and continuous cooperation between the two regions on desertification and drought issues requires new attitudes, approaches and understanding. There is a need for a holistic approach for action on all fronts: political, diplomatic, economic, social, and environmental by the countries in Asia and Africa. As such this framework intends to enhance international environmental cooperation, with a view to contributing to long term security and peace in both continents.

8. The Framework for action on Asia-Africa cooperation on combating desertification and/or mitigating the effects of drought should contribute to:

build or widen a network of people, governments, business and organizations, committed to seeking solutions for combating desertification and /or mitigating the effects of drought in Africa and Asia;

expand and strengthen research and action which advance efforts to overcome poverty and to improve the access of marginalized lower income groups in affected areas to decision making and management of natural resources;

improve the practice of governments, institutions and organizations as well as of the private sector, and NGOs in the successful integration of African and Asian people living in poverty in affected areas as both agents and beneficiaries of development;

promote opportunities for effective communication among policy makers, academics and development practitioners who are working on behalf of people living in affected areas in Africa and Asia; and,

provide people involved in the field of combating desertification and /or mitigating the effects of drought with access to skills development, knowledge accumulation, and other resources needed to improve and consolidate their programmes and services.

3. Guiding Principles

9. First, cooperation between Asia and Africa has to be broadly based and mutually beneficial to be sustainable. Asia should benefit from the cooperation as does Africa. Given the different stages of technological development that countries in the two regions have reached, interests could be diverse.

10. Second, Asia-Africa cooperation on combating desertification and/or mitigating the effects of drought should not attempt to reinvent a North-South type of cooperation, or a donor and recipient relationship. Cooperation between Asia and Africa is being pursued based on equality and mutual respect guided by the desire to learn from each other. It should also promote a two-way flow of experience.

11. Third, South-South demand driven cooperation should benefit from the support of Developed Country Parties. If necessary, the task of a third party is to facilitate a cost-effective exchange of ideas and information and to provide financial support when the need arises. Thus a framework of triangular cooperation or triangular arrangements may be called for.

12. Fourth, cooperation ought to be carried out at all levels with broad participation by different actors. Government agencies, private sector, academics, individuals and NGOs need to participate. Cooperation should be encouraged at regional, sub-regional, national and local levels, and needs to be firmly grounded in grassroots level interaction. Therefore true partnerships, collaboration and concerted action bring the Convention down to earth.

13. Fifth, the over-riding priority is to support actions that will have tangible, positive and measurable effects on affected areas and on the well-being of the populations and communities living in those areas.

14. Sixth, the diversity of cultures, traditions and know-how within countries and regions should be recognized and built upon in actions and activities. This Framework for Action should be considered as guiding principles and be applied in a flexible manner.

15. Seventh, developing capacity building for combating desertification or mitigating the effect of drought requires a long term commitment. Improvement of affected areas management requires a continuous commitment and an integrated approach. Special emphasis will be placed on local area development, monitoring community participation and early benefits for the population.

16. Eighth, networks for strategic research and development programmes as well as for establishing or strengthening monitoring systems should be an integral part of the actions envisaged because combating desertification and/or mitigating the effects of drought should be based on the most relevant scientific and technological information.

17. Ninth, actions promoted under this Framework for Action should take account, and fully use, the existing body of international agreements, organizations, centres and institutions in the respective continents that address issues related to desertification and drought.

4. Elements of the Framework for Action

18. All those committed to supporting this Framework for Action are called upon to take account of and to act on the following actions at all appropriate levels:

support efforts to establish and coordinate strategies, priorities and programmes to implement the Framework for Action;

develop and/or strengthen mechanisms for gathering and sharing information and expertise with a view to achieving sustainable development in affected African and Asia countries;

promote improved access to financial and technological resources to enable institutions, centres and networks to disseminate information to governments, local authorities, private sector, NGO's and individuals.

19. Addressing desertification and drought issues requires activities and actions in the following priority areas:

poverty eradication through inter-alia, local area development programme, including capacity building, promotion of alternative livelihood, and socio-economic development;

combating land degradation through, inter-alia, soil conservation, water resources management, forest management, afforestation and reforestation activities;

knowledge base, information and monitoring systems through, inter-alia, research and development, information processing, and early warning systems.

4.1 Fields of Activities

4.1.1 Promotion of Local Area Development in Affected Countries to Combat Desertification and to Eradicate Poverty.

20. Integrated local area development programmes are meant to improve socio-economic options of the population while restoring agro-ecological balance. In that context, Asia-Africa cooperation for the promotion of local area development in affected countries to combat desertification and to eradicate poverty should include measures to:

improve marketing prospects for dry lands produce;

create off-farm employment through creation of townships in rural areas;

promote rural credit and mobilization of rural savings, including those from the informal sector, through the establishment and expansion of rural banking systems, thus facilitating micro-enterprise development and access to financing on a small to medium scale at local level;

support investment measures to improve the socio-economic infrastructures for local communities, paying due attention to the needs of rural women.

4.1.2 Capacity Building

21. The cooperation on capacity building should be concentrated on:

review of the legal, regulatory, and administrative framework paying due attention to the issue related to its implementation;

policy formulation to enhance the enabling environment in the light of the Convention's provisions, including measures relating to population dynamics;

human resource development through training, education, extension work to relevant target groups and communities;

transfer, acquisition, adaption and development of appropriate and available technologies in both regions, relevant to combating desertification and/or mitigating the effects of drought, with a view to contributing to the achievement of sustainable development in affected areas and countries;

enhancing skill promotion and capability building of the scientific personnel;

strengthening the institutional capacities of sub-regional and regional centres and institutions dealing with desertification and drought issues and improving of their technical facilities in order to enhance networking abilities and cooperation among different actors, including financial institutions, NGO's and the private sector.

4.1.3 Research-Development

22. Cooperation between Asian and African countries cooperation in this field should:

the promotion and establishment of research priorities fields of common interest to the two regions which have relevance to the objectives of the convention, such as developing, testing and introducing, with due regard to environmental security considerations, drought resistant, fast, growing and productive plant species appropriate to the environment of each region;

encouraging the coordination of the dissemination of the results of such research activities to affected African and Asian countries;

promoting the management and control of pests, weeds, plant and animal diseases, through joint management of the movement of alien species;

promoting scholarship schemes and exchange of researchers and students in the two regions.

4.1.4 Information Collection, Analysis and Exchange

23. In this Framework, Asian and African countries should, inter-alia:

structure a schedule of meetings for updating consultations;

establish Asian and African regional coordination on combating desertification and mitigating the effects of drought;

facilitate the exchange and utilization of information on appropriate technologies, knowledge, know-how and practice among African and Asian countries and encourage the involvement of relevant partners including international organizations, NGO's's and other civil society organizations in this exercise;

promote the exchange of information in establishing and/or strengthening remote sensing and mapping services in the two regions;

exchange knowledge and experience of the methodogies for monitoring progress made on the implementation of the Convention to Combat Desertification and this Framework for Action, including the development of indicators and benchmarks;

establish a roster of regional experts as well as of projects undertaken in different countries to serve as a regional data bank for development projects.

4.1.5 Early Warning System

24. Asian and African countries should, inter-alia:

promote the development of programmes ensuring food security in both regions, including issues related to storage and stock maintenance;

support regional and inter-regional centres providing early warning information about natural disasters, such as droughts, floods and earthquakes;

promote the dissemination of early warning information to decision makers and land-users.

4.1.6 Land Use and Soil Conservation

25. African and Asian countries should, inter-alia:

exchange experience on sand dune fixation techniques, including air-seeding, and on the full cycle of ecological rehabilitation leading to the productive use of the recovered land for range management and/or cropping;

adopt land-use policies and practices for more sustainable land productivity;

introduce appropriate, environmentally sound and economically feasible agricultural and pastoral techniques;

promote the economic use of dry lands through private sector ventures for the production of high technology foodstuffs.

4.1.7 Water Resources Management

26. African and Asian countries should, inter-alia:

promote improved management of water-resources, making it possible to combat salinisation in existing irrigated croplands;

promote appropriate water saving technologies, indigenous runoff harvesting and catchments techniques and to develop watershed management systems to stabilize rain fed croplands;

promote, as appropriate, cloud seeding in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas;

promote understanding and arrangements among such countries of a region or sub-region which shares common river or rivers so that downstream countries get their due share of water for their economic use as well as for prevention of land degradation, drought, desertification and loss of biodiversity.

4.1.8 Afforestation and Reforestation Activities

27. In this regard, Asian and African countries should, inter-alia:

encourage the creation of large-scale reforestation and afforestation schemes, vegetation retention schemes and community-based agro-forestry schemes;

promote in site protection and conservation of special ecological areas through legislation, while ensuring the protection of biodiversity;

promote and encourage investment in forestry development in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas through various incentives, including legislative measures and their implementation.

4.1.9 Development of Alternative Energy Sources

28. In this context, Asian and African countries should, inter-alia:

ensure high priority be given to the development of sub-regional and regional research and training capacity on alternative energy sources, particularly solar, wind, hydro-power, biomass and bracketing technologies;

promote and disseminate information and experience on appropriate low cost technologies, and alternative construction materials;

promote the use of energy which will lessen pressure on ligneous resources, in particular the use of alternative sources of energy and more efficient stoves.

4.2 Implementation Modalities

29. South-South twinning arrangements are encouraged through, inter-alia, exchanges of experience in the fields of legislation, institutional development, and management of natural resources. Also encouraged are North-South Triangular Cooperation or arrangements through provisions of, inter-alia, of financial resources, technical assistance and direct investment in the two regions should be considered as implementation modalities.

4.3 Twinning Arrangements

30. The Africa-Asia cooperation on combating desertification and/or mitigating the effects of drought offers opportunities for launching twinning arrangements at the regional, sub-regional and national levels. Sustainable twinning arrangements require that:

the parties involved have strong mutual interest;

capacities for the initiatives should be complementary.

4.3.1 At National Level

31. At the national level, twinning arrangements between African and Asian universities, research institutions and training organizations involving private and public sectors can be initiated. The possibility of developing common curricula and, in particular the inclusion of a course in African and Asian universities on desertification and drought issues could be worth exploring.

32. Twinning arrangements can also be operated through an exchange of professors and students, and through joint curriculum development, enabling students to pursue certain programmes in the twinned university setting. For example, funding arrangements could be made for African graduate students to write their thesis in Asian countries after completing their course work in African and Asian countries could do the reverse.

4.3.2 At Sub-Regional and Regional Levels

33. There are in the two regions several inter-governmental organizations designed to address natural disasters or two undertake development on a sub-regional or basis. For example, in the area of joint management of natural resources, Twinning Arrangements can be initiated between the "Niger Basis Authority" and the "Mekong Committee" in order to exchange experiences in river basis development and/or in equitable sharing of river resources.

34. Twinning arrangements would involve exchanges of experience in areas of legislation, institutional development, an management of natural resources. Specifically, they could take the form of exchanges of professionals, joint studies of projects and so on. The successes of any twinning arrangement requires commitment from both sides and adequate budgetary provisions.

4.3.3 Triangular Cooperation

35. The term "triangular cooperation" or "triangular arrangements" refers to a situation whereby projects and programmes initiated by two or more countries are financed by a third party in a spirit of partnerships. For instance, Japan in the implementation of Tokyo Declaration and Bandung Framework could consider financing Asia-Africa cooperative projects. A bilateral or multilateral agency or any country with the capacity to do so, can also plan the role of a third party. Similarly, triangular cooperation could be initiated between two African countries or two Asian countries, and supported by a bilateral or multilateral agency.

36. The triangular cooperation requires mutual understanding and trust among participants. The financing supplied by the third party has to be provided on a predictable basis and should be preferably untied. Projects or programmes should be initiated and formulated by the participating countries in association with the funding partner.

37. The triangular cooperation modality between Asia and Africa and the third party has promising potential; (e.g. Japan and other industrialized countries). Such an arrangement helps to relieve constraints in technical assistance e.g. the limited knowledge of local language, etc.; it also broadens the pool of highly skilled personnel for technical assistance, and facilitates networks and contacts between all countries.

5. Recommendations for Monitoring, Review and Follow-up

38. Monitoring, review and follow-up of measures taken to implement the Framework for Action should be conducted at the national, sub-regional, regional and inter-regional levels on a regular basis by means of an inter-regional network linking key organizations and institutions in both continents.

39. An informal network (e-mail, list server or Internet) should be set up among focal points of affected Asian and African countries to facilitate information exchange no later than December 1996.

40. To assist in this process, the establishment of an Asian and African Research Development and Training Centre on Combating Desertification located in China is being proposed. In this respect, an inventory of existing institutions interested in becoming part of the inter-regional network on desertification and drought in Africa and Asia should be set up before January 1997. Such institutions are invited to notify in writing their interest to the Ministry of Forestry of the People's Republic of China no later than 30th November 1997.

41. The organization of technical exchange visits (water resource management, alternative livelihoods, etc.) With a focus on improving village level efforts to combat desertification should take place in 1997 through bilateral contacts. Such initiatives under the Framework should be reported tot he CCD Secretariat.

42. A possibility should be explored to formulate on experimental basis a demonstration projects for integrated management with an area of 2,000 hectares should be established in two countries (one in Asia and one in Africa) where the advanced technology of combating desertification can be applied. In this context, a network of research, demonstration and training centres (RDTC) for transferring and adapting available "know-how" should be encouraged by affected Asian and African countries.

43. The organization of a follow-up Forum in an affected African country before October 1997 is called for. The agenda, venue and date should be determined, after consultation between the Secretariat of CCD, OSCAL and interested parties.

44. The co-organizer of the Forum, including China, Japan, the Secretariats of CCD and OSCAL as well as interested countries, should monitor and facilitate follow-up action so that concrete proposals can be developed and reported at the next Asia-Africa Forum.

45. The ordinary session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the Convention to Combat Desertification and of its Committee on Science and Technology should provide excellent opportunities to review, at the inter-regional level, the effectiveness of progress in Asia-Africa cooperation in accordance with the Framework for Action.

46. The Permanent Secretariat of the Convention to Combat Desertification should be encouraged, in due time, to review the results achieved under the Framework for Action as an appropriate process for genuine partnership and commitment for cooperation on combating desertification and/or mitigating the effects of drought.

47. The achievements and progress of this Forum should be reported at the next General Meeting of Asia-Africa Forum to be held in 1997 in preparation for the forthcoming TICAD II in 1998. They should also appropriately reflected in the mid-term review of the implementation of UN-NADAF.


B.    Second Asia-Africa Forum on Combating Desertification (Niamey, Niger, September 1997)

The Asia-Africa Forum on Combating Desertification took place in Niamey, Niger, from 2-5 September 1997. It was co-organized by the Governments of Niger and Japan, the Interim Secretariat of the Convention to Combat Desertification and the United Nations Office of the Special Coordinator for Africa and the Least Developed Countries (OSCAL). Over 80 participants from 17 African countries and 8 Asian countries including Japan and Israel, attended the Forum. 

The Forum discussed the following issues: 

  • early warning systems
  • research and development
  • traditional practices and know-how for combating desertification
  • water resources management
  • soil use and conservation
  • afforestation and reforestation
  • development of alternative sources of energy
  • capacity reinforcement, including training and education
  • promotion of local, grassroots development and eradication of poverty

Specific recommendations made by the Forum on the various issues discussed are available in the report prepared by the Secretariat of the Convention to Combat Desertification (click here to read the report and recommendations).


C. Third Asia-Africa Forum on Combating Desertification and Mitigating Drought

Organized by the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention for Combating Desertification and Drought (UNCCD) and cosponsored by the Governments of Japan and Germany, the Third Asia-Africa Forum on Combating Desertification and Mitigating Drought was hosted in Ulan Bator by the Government of Mongolia from 21 to 25 June 2001.  The Forum brought together 80 participants from Asia (40), Africa (20), and from the countries in other regions as well as international organizations (20). 

The Forum undertook an assessment of the Asia/Africa Framework for Action adopted in Beijing, China in August 1996.  Progress was recorded in a number of areas of the framework, including the development of operative structures for the respective regional action programmes through the gradual establishment of thematic programme network (TPN); activities related to early warning systems in the context of the working programme of the Committee on Science and Technology; the establishment of a roster of experts and an inventory of institutions with expertise in the field of combating desertification and drought.

More importantly the Forum examined proposed start up initiatives which included, inter alia, the facilitation of inter-regional Africa/Asia information exchange; networking amongst TPN task managers; capacity building/strengthening in various priority areas; the Asia/Africa Research, Development and Training Center in Beijing; the partnership building and resource mobilization for the UNCCD implementation in China; the monitoring assessment of desertification; the decision support system for enhancing preparedness to drought; the rehabilitation of degraded range lands in Western Asian and Northern African states; the promotion of the synergistic implementation of interlinked multi-lateral and environmental conventions; the exchanges on national youth corps.; the commemoration of world day to combat desertification; the roster of experts and inventories of institutions on inter-regional organizations in the areas of combating desertification.

OSCAL뭩 representative made the presentation of the roster of experts and the inventory of institutions, universities and centers of Asia and Africa with expertise in the field of combating desertification and drought. This was a task carried out by OSCAL through the use of an African expert.  He took the opportunity of the presentation to remind participants that OSCAL was one of the early co-organizers and founders of the Asia/Africa Forum on Combating Desertification and Drought as part of its efforts to promote Asia/Africa co-operation in the framework of the TICAD process (For further information, please contact: Emmanuel Goued Njayick, Principal Economic Affairs Officer, OSCAL; Tel: 963-5006; Fax: 963-3892; e-mail: