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Report of the day: snapshot of the COW, COP & CST from Tuesday 17 September

​​On Tuesday 17 September, the Chair of the Committee for the Whole (COW), Chenchu NORBU of Bhutan opened the plenary session with the adoption of the morning agenda. The CHAIR invited the COW to move ahead with the agenda items and gave the floor to Barbara DeRosa-Joynt of the UNITED STATES, President of the Inter sessional Working Group (IWG), who explained the process for the formulation of the Mid-Term Evaluation of the 10-Year Strategy. She presented the recommendations of the IWG and highlighted some of the main points, especially in the context of Rio+20 and the Post-2015 Agenda and the SDGs.

Many country Parties intervened, agreeing to send the recommendations on each distinct topic of the Mid-Term Evaluation to the respective contact group, for them to draft decisions. Some parties focused their statement on the importance of indicators and the reporting process, calling for a simpler and more user-friendly PRAIS system.  

The COW CHAIR then opened the floor on the Governance and Institutional Arrangements of the Global Mechanism (GM). Mr Lyndle LINDOW, Coordinator of Administration and Finance of the UNCCD Secretariat introduced the item, stating that considerable progress had been made since the implementation of Decision 6/COP10, especially in administration, travel procedures, accounts and staff management, which are now fully administered by UNOG. He also explained that the GM is now under the overall management responsibility of the ES and under the authority of the COP, as set forth in Dec.6/COP10, and that a coherent visual identity and communications strategy had been elaborated. He then introduced the consultants' report on the new housing arrangements of the GM, explaining that it contains recommendations that were formulated using a structured process under the guidance of the COP Bureau and the CRIC.

He also stated that the report demonstrates that the only valid options for the GM are either the co-location at the Bonn HQs, or maintaining the GM at IFAD, in Rome. Nevertheless, the report's conclusions are very clear on indicating that the co-location with the secretariat is the most viable option, which would result in better and improved governance efficiencies. Some country Parties (in particular most African Parties) expressed their full support for the report, whereas other Parties explained that the location of the GM should look at the potential synergies with International Financial Institutions, including Rome-based agencies and agencies in Washington. ITALY presented its full support to keeping the GM at IFAD, advancing a financial proposal by the Government of Italy that would reduce the yearly operational costs for the housing. 

The COW CHAIR closed the item on the GM, and opened the discussion on the Programme and Budget for the biennium 2014-2015. The UNCCD ES, Mr Luc Gnacadja gave the floor to Mr Mansour N'Diaye, UNCCD Chef-de-Cabinet, who presented the proposed budget, underlining that it does not foresee new posts or any proposed increase in travel costs of the secretariat.  

The COW CHAIR closed the session by clarifying that there will be four contact groups, structured as follows: 1. CST; 2. CRIC; 3. COW 1: Programme and budget; 4. COW 2: to be divided in drafting groups (DG 1: Independent mid -term evaluation + regional coordination mechanisms + NAP alignment; DG 2: Governance and institutional arrangement of the GM, including recommendations on the new housing arrangement of the GM; DG 3: Communication strategy + Rio + 20 follow up).  

In the afternoon, Ms Mary Rowen, as Chair of the CRIC, opened the 12th session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 12), and swiftly adopted the agenda and organization of work for the session. In her opening remarks, the Chair urged Parties to make wise decisions in guiding the secretariat and the Global Mechanism and others to implement the Convention, stressing that in an era of global financial concerns, serious strategic consideration should be given to how to utilize the limited resources at the Convention’s disposal most effectively. Under the third agenda item, it was decided that Mr Luis Gonzalez, UNCCD National Focal Point for Guatemala, would be appointed facilitator of the CRIC contact group, and that a joint contact group would also be established for CRIC and CST for Wednesday and Thursday evenings. 

The discussion then turned to the Multi-year Workplans and Performance Report of the Convention’s institutions and subsidiary bodies, presented by Mr Mansour N'Diaye, UNCCD Chef-de-Cabinet. Mr N’Diaye began with a presentation on the comprehensive UNCCD performance report, outlining some of the key progress made including the increased awareness and recognition of DLDD as a key global issue, the increased participation of the scientific community in the Convention, as well as the progress made in impact monitoring and performance indicators, NAP alignment and financing for SLM.

He then continued with a presentation on the 2014-17 Comprehensive UNCCD Work Plan 2014-17, highlighting some of the key elements expected from the work plans for the respective UNCCD entities. Parties commended the secretariat and the GM for the quality of the documentation put forward, while some parties requested for the documentation to be made available in all official UN languages. 

The final agenda item centered on the Report of the Review of the Implementation of the Convention on its Eleventh Session, which was presented by Ms Anja Thrust UNCCD Secretariat Programme Officer. Ms Thust outlined that the conclusions and recommendations of the report from parties were instrumental in drafting the decisions put forward for CRIC 12. In responding to the report, some parties raised concerns that the targets set to align all NAPs by 2014 were in danger of not being met, while other Parties stressed the need to improve the technical and financial support to the process. In addition, it was highlighted that further monitoring of performance indicators would be needed. There was also some discussion from Parties on the relevance of the outcomes of Rio +20 to the UNCCD. While some Parties cautioned that the Convention should stay within the bounds of its mandate with a sole focus on drylands, others considered it vital that the outcomes of the Rio+20 process were reflected in future decisions on the Convention. 

Committee on Science and Technology (CST) also started this morning. The first agenda after the opening session was on the roster of independent expert.  The discussion mainly focused on how to maximize the benefit of the roaster. For this, a few delegates suggested an assessment of the current use of the roster and others stressed the need of defining the role of the roaster. Access and maintenance of the data was another question. The Committee then deliberated on Agenda item 8 the UNCCD fellowship programme.  Under agenda item 4 on progress made in the organization of international, interdisciplinary scientific advice in the Convention process, Parties discussed the conclusions and recommendations from the Ad Hoc Working Group to Further Discuss the Options for the Provision of Scientific Advice Focusing on Desertification/Land Degradation and Drought (DLDD) Issues (AGSA) on options for the provision of scientific advice focusing on DLDD issues. 

Quote of the day:  

"Too many financial resources are still devoted to internal housekeeping issues, such as the GM housing arrangements and PRAIS. The UNCCD should certainly invest more on substantive matters that help to implement the 10-Year Strategy."

--Mr. Yves Guinand, Focal Point of Switzerland, speaking on the Mid-Term evaluation of the Strategy.

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