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Panel session 1

How synergetic implementation of the conventions on Climate Change and Desertification will foster action at the country level ?

In the Climate Change negotiation processes up to Copenhagen, issues on desertification have been discussed in the context of enhanced action on adaptation and under REDD-plus on mitigation. In the UNCCD context, tackling climate change, climate variability and drought is imperative to the strategic objectives of the 10-Year Strategic Plan and Framework. Therefore, Parties to the both Conventions have long recognized the potential benefit of synergy as they have worked to implement their respective mandates.


Youba Sokona, Co-Chair, IPCC, Working Group III and Former Executive Secretary, Observatoire Sahara et Sahel

Introducing the session, Dr Youba Sokona said there is considerable potential for synergy among the three sister Rio Conventions, and urged that initiatives aimed at synergy capture ecological, physical and sociological linkages. He said it was puzzling that synergy remained evasive even in instances where the focal points for the three Conventions were located in the same ministry or even held by the same individual. Dr Sokona invited participants to consider, under the Chatham rules, why synergy is not working, by examining three dimensions, namely, institutional dynamics, scientific issues and financial resources.


Luc Gnacadja, UNCCD Executive Secretary

PPT Luc Gnacadja.pdf

Mr Luc Gnacadja said the national action programmes (NAPs) of the UNCCD and the national adaptation programmes of action (NAPAs) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) converge in their emphasis on participatory processes, overall coherence and accountability. He said synergy is essential because the greatest benefits are born of complementarity, but noted that implementation tends to be sectoral, which undermines effectiveness. Mr Gnacadja highlighted land improvements to formerly degraded land, mostly in the drylands, and called for a multipurpose approach when addressing desertification, land degradation and drought, and climate change. This, he said, requires institutional collaboration among actors dealing with food, biological diversity, energy, migration and climate change, among others. He said synergy is being hampered by “convention egoism” and also parties’ not yet fully meeting their obligations, among other obstacles.

Richard Kinley, UNFCCC deputy Executive Secretary, representing Executive Secretary Mr Yvo de Boer

Mr Richard Kinley said the two conventions have many things in common and said land is the bridge between climate change adaptation and mitigation. He added that synergy is attainable in adaptation, mitigation and food security, and said the two conventions are working to facilitate action at the country level. Mr Kinley said the key question is how to boost synergy at the national level, and suggested that it will require: careful planning and coordination among ministries; integrating action programmes in national development strategies; building capacity in developing countries; and financing. He also noted the potential for collaboration in the implementation of the Nairobi Work Programme, enhanced adaptation, the overall finance package and the nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs).


In the discussion segment that followed, participants emphasized that interest-driven institutional competition and the proliferation of financial mechanisms to support planned activities tend to undermine synergy. They highlighted the conditions with the potential to promote synergy:

    *      a focus on the national and local government levels
    *      integration of the action plans in national development strategies, based on sound arguments about the benefits of investment to reverse land degradation
    *      capacity building for governments in both developed and developing countries
    *      the flow of resources to the local levels
    *      elaboration of principles to support synergy and tools or indicators to monitor it, taking into account that a regulation-driven operational framework does not always lead to effectiveness.

At the global level, participants underlined that synergy will not emerge automatically, and needs to be induced through incentives tied to financing to promote:

    *      the organization of common meetings among the focal points of the three Conventions
    *      the development of common work-programmes among the Conventions
    *      mainstreaming of the review of synergy in the agenda of the relevant Convention bodies 

Participants shared examples of coordination from France, Uganda and Viet Nam.

    *      In France, under the coordination of a separate entity, the national focal points of the three sister Rio Conventions consult ahead of key meetings of each Convention, which ensures they have ample insights into the developments across these platforms
    *      In Uganda, the government has integrated these environmental activities into the national development strategy, compelling donors to collaborate under a chef-de-file in their specific areas of interest
    *      Viet Nam has a social development programme with hooks to the different areas, and a focal point for the Global Environment Facility

Participants also considered:

    *     the uneven distribution of the projects in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) due to its design to promote market-based carbon absorption, and the controversy surrounding the real nature of the reductions
    *      the difficulty in merging NAPAs and NAPs due to the funding mechanisms, with some arguing that merging was possible using a rolling programme design, while others emphasized that substance is more important than the form a plan takes.

In concluding, Dr Sokona said the key words that emerged from the session were: ownership, without which synergy will not happen; coordination at various levels and among various institutions, donors, partners and countries; prioritization in order to draw attention to what is needed to minimize the possibility of actors working on their own interests; and the proliferation of financial cooperation mechanisms, which undermine synergy.


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