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Terminology and glossaries

This glossary contains some of the most common acronyms and jargon likely to be encountered by COP participants and observers.
Ad hoc panel - The Conference of the Parties may appoint ad hoc panels on the recommendation of the Committee on Science and Technology (CST), whose function is to provide advice and information on specific issues, regarding scientific and technical matters. Its members are experts, whose names are taken from a roster of government-nominated experts, considering the need for a multidisciplinary approach and broad geographical representation.
Affected countries/areas – According to 1992 United Nations estimates, over 110 countries in all continents are affected by desertification, which is defined as land degradation in arid, semi-arid and/or dry sub-humid areas.
Agenda - A programme of work that the Conference of the Parties adopts and uses to guide its work; the annotated agenda contains a more detailed explanation of each agenda item.
Agenda Item - Specific issue listed in the Agenda to be addressed by a given meeting.
Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) – Established in 1989, UMA is a sub-regional intergovernmental organisation that, amongst other attributions, assists North African countries to implement the Convention. UMA’s members include Algeria, Lybia, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.
Arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas - Areas, other than polar and sub-polar regions, in which the ratio of annual precipitation to potential evapotranspiration falls within the range from 0.05 to 0.65.
Benchmarks and indicators - Scientific data used for monitoring the status of desertification and assisting the Conference of the Parties in evaluating or assessing the effectiveness of national efforts to implement the Convention.
Bottom up approach - The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification promotes an innovative approach, enhancing full participation and involvement of affected populations and local communities, i.e. civil societies and non-governmental organisations, in the implementation process of the UNCCD.
Bureau - Structure responsible for directing the work of the COP. Its members are delegates elected by each of the five regional groups. The Bureau is composed of the President, 9 Vice Presidents, and the Chair of the Committee on Science and Technology.
Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC) - Established by COP 5 in 2001 as a subsidiary body, it reviews and analyzes national reports submitted to the COP that describe the status of the Convention’s implementation by Parties and observers with a view to improve the coherence, impact and effectiveness of policies and programmes aimed at restoring the agro-ecological balance in the drylands. It meets annually as at 2002. Its terms of reference are subject to renewal at COP 7 in 2005.
Committee on Science and Technology (CST) - A subsidiary body of the Convention whose function is to advise the Conference of the Parties on scientific and technical matters regarding the combat against desertification. The Committee on Science and Technology elects its own Bureau.
Committee of the Whole - A working group set up by the Conference of the Parties to facilitate discussions on specific issues. When the Committee finishes its work it turns the resulting texts over to the COP to finalise and adopt them during a plenary session.
Conference of the Parties (COP) - The governing body and supreme decision-making authority for the Parties to the Convention. The first session of the COP to the UNCCD took place in Rome, Italy, on 29 September - 10 October 1997; the second in Dakar, Senegal, on 30 November - 11 December 1998; the third in Recife, Brazil, on 15-26 November 1999; the fourth in Bonn, Germany, on 11-22 December 2000; the fifth in Geneva, Switzerland, on 1-12 October 2001.
Conference Room Papers (CRPs) - A category of in-session documents containing new proposals or outcomes of in-session work for use during the session.
Consensus - An agreement on a specific issue can be adopted by consensus rather than by vote when there are no stated objections from delegations.
Countries with economies in transition (EIT) - Those Central and East European countries and former republics of Soviet Union that are in transition to a market economy.
Decision - A formal agreement at the plenary that directs the work of the COP.
Desertification - Land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities.
Documents - Official meeting documents are placed on the website, as they become available. In-session documents are distributed on site and may include CRPs, and nonpapers. Informal documents are often distributed outside the meeting room by Parties or observers.
Drought -The naturally occurring phenomenon that exists when precipitation has been significantly below normal recorded levels, causing serious hydrological imbalances that adversely affect land resource production systems.
Entry into force - Multilateral agreements are usually not legally binding until they have been ratified by a certain number of countries. The UNCCD required 50 ratifications and entered into force on 26 December 1996. Equally the Convention states, that it will enter into force for a given Party 90 days after this Party has deposited its instrument of Ratification or Accession.
European Communities (EC) – The term European Communities is a collective term for the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), founded in 1951, the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM or EAEC), founded in 1957. The European Union, created by the Maastricht Treaty (1993), did not make the European Communities disappear. They form its institutional framework. The Union remains based on the Communities, supplemented by the policies and the forms of cooperation brought in by that treaty. The European Union is a Party to the Convention. However, it does not have a separate vote from its members. Members states of the EU meet as a group to the COP.
Focal Point - A representative from each country serves as the focal point for the Convention to liaise with the Secretariat and to assist in intersessional work. Focal points are to be distinguished from the officially accredited Head of Delegation to the COP.
Global Environment Facility (GEF) - The Global Environment Facility was established by the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) in 1990. It operates as the Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Biodiversity (UNCBD) Conventions’ financial mechanism. The GEF was created to provide grants and concessional funds to developing countries to finance incremental costs for programmes, projects, and activities to protect the world's environment. Anti-desertification projects relevant to the focal areas of climate change, biodiversity, ozone depletion, and international waters may be eligible for funding. The GEF is expected to become a financial mechanism of the UNCCD, once the operational modalities are approved by the GEF Council and these decisions by the COP in 2003.
Global Mechanism (GM) - Established under the Convention, the GM is in charge of promoting actions for the mobilization and channelling of substantial financial resources, including the transfer of technology, on a grant basis, and/or on concessional or other terms, to affected developing country Parties. The Global Mechanism is hosted in Rome by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and functions under the authority and guidance of the Conference of the Parties.
Group of 77 and China - The G-77 was founded in 1967 under the auspices of the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD). It seeks to harmonize the negotiating positions of its 133 developing country members.
Headquarters – Since 1999, the headquarters of the Permanent Secretariat of the UNCCD is in Bonn, Germany.
Informal contact group - On the instructions of the President or Chair, delegates may meet in private to discuss specific matters in order to consolidate different views, reach a compromise, and produce an agreed proposal, often in the form of a written text.
Local Area Development Programme (LADP) – LADPs assign a central role to local communities, decentralisation and micro-initiatives as a key to elaborate and implement sustainable development activities. Such activities need to be fully integrated in National Action Programmes, combine environmental and socio-economic concerns, and aim at improving living standards of people in desertification affected areas.
Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) – Established in 1986, IGAD is a sub-regional intergovernmental organisation that amongst other attributions, assists East African countries to implement the Convention. IGAD’s members include Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda and Eritrea.
Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Desertification (INCD) - The INCD was established (General Assembly Resolution 47/188) in early 1993 as a subsidiary body of the United Nations General Assembly with a mandate to negotiate the Convention. It held 10 sessions and prepared for the organization of the first session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD (COP-1). It completed its work in August 1997.
JUSCANZ - Certain non-EU industrialized countries meet as a group to discuss various issues. The group was originally composed of Japan, the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Iceland, Mexico and the Republic of Korea may also attend meetings.
Meetings and sessions - Each session of the COP is divided into a number of meetings. Each meeting is scheduled from 10:00 a.m. to 01:00 p.m. and from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Sessions normally last 10 working days.
National Delegation - One or more officials empowered to represent and negotiate on behalf of their government.
National Action Programme (NAP) – National Action Programmes are at the heart of the Convention and constitute the conceptual and legal framework for implementing it at the national and local levels. Their purpose is to identify the factors contributing to desertification and the practical measures necessary to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought. The Convention indicates that affected countries shall elaborate and implement them with the full participation of local communities and all interested stakeholders. Furthermore, they should be fully integrated with other development programmes.
National Awareness Seminar (NAS)- The Convention emphasizes the need for public awareness raising and full participation of all interested stakeholders in the process of elaboration of National Action Programmes. In this framework, national seminars can be organized with a view to encourage widespread participation in the development and implementation of National Action Programmes by the public and the private sectors, local communities, non-governmental organisations, etc.
National Coordinating Body (NCB) – Affected country Parties can establish a UNCCD National Coordinating Body with a multidisciplinary steering committee. Its role is to coordinate the formulation and implementation of the National Action Programmes and to mobilize national and international resources.
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) - Many relevant NGOs attend inter-governmental meetings as observers in order to interact with delegates and the press and provide information. Within the UNCCD process, they dispose of a full slot in the plenary of the COP of at least two half-day sessions. NGOs must be non-profit and can include environmental groups, research institutions and business groups.
Non-papers – They are issued informally to facilitate negotiations. They do not have an official document symbol although they may have an identifying number or the name of the authors.
OAU – The Organization of African Unity was established in 1963 to promote self-government, respect for territorial boundaries, and social progress throughout the African Continent. Membership is open to all independent African countries.
Observers - A state (or regional economic integration organisation) that has not yet become a Party to the Convention. United Nations agencies and non-governmental and community-based organisations may also participate as observers, subject to the Rule of Procedure of the Conference of the Parties.
OECD – The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development was established in 1961, taking over from the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC). It counts 30 member states, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK, and the US.
Party - A state or regional economic integration organization (such as the EC) that agrees to be bound by the Convention and for which the CCD has entered into force.
Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) - Established in 1973, CILSS is a sub-regional intergovernmental organisation that, amongst other things, helps West African countries to implement the Convention. Membership includes : Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal.
Plenary - An open meeting of the entire Conference of the Parties where all formal decisions are taken.
President or Chair - The participating governments elect a President (for the COP) or Chair (for the COW and the CST) from amongst the delegates. The President or Chair is responsible for facilitating progress towards an agreement and normally serves until the following COP.
Ratification - After signing a treaty, a country must ratify it, often with the approval of its parliament or other legislature. Such process implies not only an expression of interest as indicated by the signature, but the transformation of the treaty’s principles and obligations into national law. The instrument of ratification must be deposited with the Depositary which, in the case of the CCD, is the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The country will become a Party of the Convention by the completion of a period of 90 days after the deposit of the instrument of ratification.
Regional Annexes - The Convention contains five Regional Annexes on the implementation of the treaty in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Northern Mediterranean, and Central and Eastern Europe. These Annexes contain elements for the preparation of action programmes, their exact focus and content for particular sub-regions and regions, according to the respective socio-economic, geographical and climatic factors.
Regional Coordinating Units (RCUs) – Affected country Parties shall coordinate the preparation, negotiation and implementation of national, sub-regional and regional action programmes. To this aim, they may set up a coordinating mechanism in order to facilitate, for example, the exchange of information, the development of thematic networks, the promotion of cooperation.
Regional groups - In the UNCCD context, five regional groups meet privately to discuss issues and nominate Bureau members and other officials. They are Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC), and the Western Europe and Other Group (WEOG).
Regional Action Programme (RAP) - Designed through consultation with countries in the region, RAPs can help to harmonize and strengthen national programmes. In the UNCCD context, regions to develop RAPs include Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Northern Mediterranean, and Central and Eastern Europe.
Reports – Each country Party communicates to the Conference of the Parties for consideration at its ordinary sessions reports on the measures it has taken for the implementation of the Convention. Affected country Parties provide a description of the strategies established, and other relevant information. Developed country Parties report on measures taken to assist in the preparation and implementation of action programmes.
Réseau International d'ONG sur la Désertification (RIOD) - The French acronym for a world-wide network of non-governmental organisations for exchanging information and experiences involving activities to implement the Convention.
Rules of procedure - The rules that govern the organisation and proceeding of a COP or other subsidiary body, including the procedures for decision-making, voting and participation.
Secretariat of the UNCCD - The Executive Secretary and his staff are responsible for servicing the COP, including the preparation of documents and meeting arrangements. The CCD Secretariat is institutionally linked to the United Nations.
Southern African Development Community (SADC) – Established in 1980, SADC is a sub-regional intergovernmental organisation that, amongst other things, helps South African countries to implement the Convention. Its members include Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Signature - The Head of State or government, the foreign minister, or another designated official indicates his or her country's agreement with the adopted text of a treaty and its intention to become a Party by signing it.
Square brackets - These are used during negotiations to indicate that a section of text is being discussed but has not yet been agreed upon.
Stakeholder – Individuals or institutions (public and private) interested and involved in UNCCD related processes and activities.
Sub-regional Action Programme (SRAP) - Designed through consultation with countries in the sub-region, SRAPs can help harmonize and strengthen national action programmes. Examples of sub- regions are Western Africa and South Asia. See also Regional Action Programme.
Sustainable DevelopmentDevelopment policies that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own.
Thematic Programme Network (TPN) / Regional Cooperation Networks (RCN)- Networks established at the regional level by affected country Parties to address specific themes of relevance in the framework of the UNCCD implementation. In particular, the Asian region is working on six TPNs (the following have been launched: TPN for desertification monitoring and assessment; on agro-forestry and soil conservation; on pasture management and sand dune fixation; on Water resources management for agriculture in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas; etc), the African region is also working on six TPNs (Networks for theintegrated management of international river, lake and hydrogeological basins,; the promotion of agroforestry and soil conservation; the rational use of rangelands and promotion of fodder crops development; the ecological monitoring, natural resources mapping, remote sensing and early warning systems; the promotion of new and renewable energy sources and technologies; and the promotion of sustainable agricultural farming systems.).
UNCED - The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, also known as the Rio Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. It promoted a new, integrated approach to the problem of desertification emphasizing action to promote sustainable development. It recommended that the United Nations General Assembly establish an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to prepare, by June 1994, a United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.

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