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Report of the day: snapshot of the CRIC & CST and side events from Wednesday 18 September

Highlights of CRIC

First agenda of this morning at CRIC was about the fourth reporting and review process.  Much progress and achievement have been made for systematic monitoring of the implementation of the Convention by the implementation of the performance review and assessment of implementation system (PRAIS) and its methodological tools as adopted at the COP9 in 2009, which opened the door to a quantitative assessment of progress in the implementation of the Convention and evidence-based decision-making by its governing bodies.

While Parties welcomed the positive development brought by this new reporting system, complexity and technical challenges surrounding PRAIS, with time constraints, led a number of them calling for the support to strengthen their capacity to enable them to meet the reporting obligation. Some countries also called for improving the PRAIS towards a more user-friendly tool. On the other hand, some countries reported positive change brought by the application of PRAIS, such as Bhutan which managed to complete the reporting process this time without external consultants.

Parties then deliberated on promotion and strengthening of relationships with other relevant conventions and international organizations, institutions and agencies. 26 Parties and international organizations asked for the floor to speak about the importance of synergy among the Rio Conventions and other relevant multilateral environment agreements. Synergistic implementation and coordinated action among the UN system was also highlighted, as exemplified in the joint undertaking on the follow-up to the Global Drylands Report which was launched at COP11 in Changwon.

A number of countries looked into the needs of promoting synergies at the country level. For example, Cambodia suggested a mechanism to facilitate the national level synergy promotion, and Zimbabwe proposed a multi-stakeholder platform on DLDD and SLM for effective advocacy and awareness raising through sharing information and best practices to achieve a land-degradation neutral world as a follow-up to the Rio+20 outcome.

Following the deliberation by Parties on promoting the analysis and dissemination of best practices and accessibility of best practices, Parties took up the final agenda of the day, which is collaboration with the Global Environment Facility. A number of parties appreciated the progress and achievements made in distribution of the GEF funds in the Land Degradation Focal Area, while they continued to point to the need of increasing the funds. The level of the funds in the Land Degradation Focal Area is smaller than other Focal Areas such as climate change and biodiversity. They also mentioned that access to and utilization of the funds needs to be improved. For this, many countries requested the support for capacity building in order for them to maximize the benefit of the financial support.

“The GEF Land Focal Area is young, but it keeps growing.”
--Mohamed Bakarr, Senior Environmental Specialist, Global Environment Facility

Highlights from the Committee  on Science and Technology

The committee opened their session today with a presentation on the Scientific Knowledge Brokering Portal.  The development of the portal had been previously requested to support the Strategy of the UNCCD, to improve the brokering of scientific and technical information to and from institutions, parties and end-users, in cooperation with relevant institutions, such as FAO-Agris, WOCAT and others.  A pilot of the portal will become available in 2014.

Delegates welcomed the progress on the portal, some calling it the “most exciting initiative the UNCCD has undertaken,” explaining that it would be a cost effective and efficient mechanism to maximize the visibility of UNCCD.  Parties expressed concern that local knowledge would be included, and that the portal would also aggregate data collections and digital repositories already existing at the national level.  Access was a hot topic.  Parties expressed hope that the portal would be available in all six UN languages, and have the marketing strategy required for it to be featured by global research institutions, as well as strategies to ensure its dissemination to local communities .

The parties also discussed best practices, a topic which joined both the committee of the CRIC and CST.  Again parties expressed concern about finding strategies to ensure that local knowledge would be included, and that the intellectual property of those contributing their methods to the best practice collection would be protected.
The committee was presented with a report from the AGTE on impact indicator refinement.  These indicators were originally requested by parties to measure the implementation of the UNCCD strategy and the global status of desertification, land degradation and drought.

Their study proposes six indicators to be adopted, which focus on measuring trends including: poverty, water access, land cover, land productivity, soil carbon stocks and species abundance.  Further, it is proposed that data shall be collected from existing global data sets (as opposed to national reporting).  Parties can develop and refine their own indicators for national priorities as needed.  Many parties expressed specific feedback to the indicators, saying that in many cases they were still too quantitative, or could be interpreted differently in various contexts, threatening the integrity of the global data set.  The decision on whether to adopt the proposed refined indicators will now be taken to the contact group, to be made at the COP at a later stage.

On the Side

Today during the lunch time, a special event titled, “A Stronger UNCCD for a Land-Degradation-Neutral World Calls for a Target-Setting Approach” was held as a follow-up to the informal consultative meeting on a land degradation neutral world, hosted by the Government of the Republic of Korea and facilitated by the UNCCD secretariat on 26-27 June 2013 in Seoul. At the event, government representatives, scientists and civil society organizations exchanged view on how best to operationalize the outcomes of Rio+20.

Quotes of the day 

“If you were to do a mapping overlay of traditional knowledge that is still intact and relevant to sustainable land management, you would find that it is placed with the people of the drylands.”

-Masego Madzwamuse, Economic Justice Programme Officer, Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa, speaking at the event: Improving sustainable land management and the UNCCD policy and practice interaction in Sub-Saharan Africa through civil society capacity building.

“I want to draw your attention to the fact that land degradation and desertification is enormous and can’t be tackled by government alone.  Our government appreciates the efforts of CSOs in ensuring a land degradation neutral world and we are looking upon grassroots organizations as change agents for better land management.” 

--Ambassador H.E. Neville Gertze, Namibia speaking at the event: Improving sustainable land management and the UNCCD policy and practice interaction in Sub-Saharan Africa through civil society capacity building.

“UNCCD should capitalize on the momentum from Rio. Land degradation should not be subsumed under another goal, but should be it’s own separate goal: sustainable land use for all and by all.”

--Qui Huahui - state forestry administration, China

 “'We must build on COP10”  --Utchang Kang KFS, UNCCD COP10 Presidency

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