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Global Climate Change DigestArchives of the
Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999

FROM VOLUME 7, NUMBER 7, JULY 1994

NEWS... DESERTIFICATION TREATY


Item #d94jul165

DESERTIFICATION TREATY

Representatives of over 100 countries reached agreement in June on an international convention to counter desertification. Although developing countries sought new financing from donor nations for anti-desertification projects, negotiators instead settled on a compromise, which includes the possibility of diverting funds from the Global Environment Facility if anti-desertification projects can be linked to current GEF concerns such as climate change. (See Intl. Environ. Rptr., pp. 549-550, June 29.) The convention encourages projects at the local level. Specific guidelines are given for Africa (the region of greatest immediate concern), Asia, the northern Mediterranean and the Caribbean.

The link between climate change and desertification has received more attention lately. A report on the subject prepared for UNEP and WMO is summarized in the latest issue of Climate Change Bulletin. (This quarterly is published by the Secretariat of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, Geneva Exec. Ctr., 11-13 chemin des Anémones, 1219 Châtelaine, Switz.) The report concludes that the effect of global warming on areas of marginal rainfall could be a progressive decline in biomass, further reducing the capacity of the world's land area to store carbon and nitrogen.

An account of the treaty agreement in New Scientist (p. 5, June 25) questions the scientific basis for the expenditure of billions of dollars by the U.N. to fight desertification. In the book Desertification: Exploding the Myth, British researchers Nicholas Middleton and David Thomas argue that UNEP has created a self-perpetuating, and self-serving, institutional myth about desertification, which ends up being a scapegoat for social problems that may be due to political mismanagement.

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