Statement by Representative of Mongolia
On agenda item 97 (a) : Elaboration of an international
Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing
Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa
Second Committee of the 51st UNGA

New York, 1 November 1996

My delegation wishes to associate itself with the statement made by the delegation of Costa Rica on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.

I wish also to express my delegation's gratitude to Mr. Hama Arba Diallo, Executive Secretary of the International Negotiating Committee for his outstanding contribution to negotiating process and the speedy entry into force of the "International Convention to Combat desertification in those countries, experiencing serious drought and /or desertification, particularly in Africa".

The global imperative to fight against desertification and the effects of drought, and other forms of environmental degradation grows even more urgent today when the process of economic globalization and liberalization has become the prevailing tendency in the rapidly changing world. The challenge to adequately address the growing danger of desertification and drought requires urgent concerted international response. It is, therefore, most encouraging to see a growing number of countries ratifying this Convention. As a predominantly dryland country, Mongolia has a special interest in the early entry into force of the Convention and its effective implementation. That is why Mongolia was one of the first to sign the Convention and also was among those which provided the required 50 ratifications for its entry into force. My delegation would like to note that our common concern for future calls for other states, including developed countries, that have not yet done so, to ratify this Convention.

The convention would be one of the first to embrace the comprehensive approach to environmental problems as defined in 1992 by the Rio Earth Summit's Agenda 21 and serve as the most significant agreement for materializing the concept of sustainable development. In this context the Special session of the General Assembly to be held year will provide a convenient opportunity to review the progress made in the implementation of Agenda 21 and determine future concerted actions.

We are confident that the Convention is an important means of promoting international cooperation, and of harmonizing national, regional and international efforts, and mobilizing resources for tackling one of the most serious environmental problems facing the world today. My country is particularly pleased to see the Convention address the underlying causes of desertification, including environmental and socio-economic factors.

Mongolia considers that the outcome of the first Conference of the Parties to the Convention to be held next year would be a turning point for the coordinated action of the international community to combat desertification.

Science and technology have an essential role to play in enabling improved varieties of crops, preserving the unique biodiversity, better understanding the relationship of climate and desertification, and in improving the techniques for reducing energy demand and improving the conservation and the use of water. All these are essential to improved management of the drylands. Thus, we attach greater significance to be organization and responsibilities of the Committee on Science and Technology, a vital body in ensuring full implementation of Convention. We believe that the Committee will provide the Conference of parties with information and advise on scientific and technological matter relating to combating desertication and mitigating the effects of drought, ensuring that its decisions are based on the most up-to-date scientific knowledge. We believe that the Committee on Science and Technology should be established as early as possible so it can truly have a role to play in defining the priority actions to combat desertification.

No matter what we want to achieve, the availability of sufficient resources and their effective utilization are of central importance. In this context , we believe that the agreement and subsequent establishment of " Global Mechanism" under the convention should play central role in promoting actions leading to the mobilization and channeling of substantial financial resources, including for the transfer of technology on a grant or concessional basis to affected developing countries. We hope that we will reach decision on this very important issue at the next session of the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee when we negotiate the agreement on the functions of the " Global Mechanism" as well as issues concerning the Permanent Secretariat of the Convention.

Desertification is undoubtedly a human problem, not only in its consequences but also in the causes. In this connection, I would like to emphasize the importance of the new approach, reflected in the Convention, which focuses, inter alia, on mobilizing participation of local populations and non-governmental organizations for the preparation and implementation of action programmes, as well as on the concept of partnership bringing together affected countries, the developed countries and international organizations in the attainment of common objectives.

Desertification, drought and deforestation are a major concern to Mongolia as well. Desert, as defined in the Convention, accounts for one third of our territory. There is a large area of land which is highly prone to desertification. More than 70 per cent of the pastureland and half of the cropland have been degraded. The land degradation reduces productivity and efficiency of agriculture which creates costly burden on our socio-economic development efforts. Only 10 per cent of the territory is covered by forests, and almost 20 per cent of that was damaged by devastating fires this summer. As we are aware that climatic changes are both the consequence and the cause of desertification. Mongolia is being affected by the global warming which results in increasing number of natural disaster such as fire, drought.

Mongolia has drawn up and is implementing "National Plan of Action to combat Desertification", "The Biodiversity Conservation Action Plan" and "The Programme of Protected Areas" which have recently been adopted by the Government. These programmes open wider possibility to address national development issues along with the environmental ones. Practical implementation of the measures planned in the above programme and action plans, like in many other developing countries, requires national capacity building, application of scientific achievements, acquisition of necessary technology as well as financial and technical cooperation with our developed partners and international organizations.