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This report covers the activities carried out by the INFORSE Secretariat.

Brief Introduction to the Convention

The Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD) acknowledges a number of factors influencing the desertification; Physical, biological and socio-economic. The Convention emphasises that technology transfer has to be demand driven. The approach of the convention furthermore focuses on active participation of the population. The central implementation tool for the Convention is the so-called National Action Plans (NAPs).

The CCD is n example on how environmental and development oriented objectives can meet within the same framework. A very unique feature of the Convention is the institutionalised roles given to NGOs, both in relation to implementation of the convention and in relation to Conferences of the Parties. During COPII two half-day sessions for open dialogue between NGO representatives and the official delegations were included. By October 1998 144 countries had ratified the Convention, inclusive Denmark.

In contrast to the other Rio-conventions no special global funds have been reserved for the implementation of the convention. The idea is apparently that the substantial amounts already pledged for development activities in areas affected by desertification should rather be co-ordinated than additional funding should be found. This points of view - evidently - is primarily shared among OECD countries and heavily contested by G77 countries.

For the co-ordination and co-operation between resources available for implementation activities in relation to the Convention, the so-called Global Mechanism (GM) has been founded. This institution is physically situated within the premises of IFAD. From 1999 the permanent Secretariat for the Convention will start operating from Bonn. The old UNSO office does still exist as a special office under UNDP. Besides GM, GEF can provide funding for implementation of the convention.

2. Activities in Denmark

The primary objective for the activities in Denmark was to disseminate information about the consequences of desertification and the potential role of sustainable energy technologies in the fight against desertification.

The meeting was in itself very informative and of a high quality and certainly served to form a basis for understanding the convention and the role of sustainable energy in relation to the convention. In addition to the public meeting a thematic issue of Energi og Udvikling was produced, as well as desertification was the theme of Sustainable Energy News.

3. INFORSE Activities during the Conference

* Introduction of the INFORSE network and sustainable energy technologies to the members of the RIOD network;
* Meeting with NGOs from Burkina Faso and Senegal exploring concrete possibilities for exchange of experience in relation to
solar systems, particularly with regard to establishment of repair and maintenance systems;
* Presentation of the role of sustainable energy as one of the means to combat desertification
* Meeting with the present INFORSE members discussing general feedback to the secretariat and the regional co-ordinator, as well as the future strategy of the INFORSE network in relation to the Convention and the RIOD network.

4. Future Perspectives

On the basis of the INFORSE members suggestions and support from the regional co-ordinator, Enda-tm, it has been decided to work on the following aspects in order to strenghten the role of sustaoanable energy in the fight against desertification:

Regional training and Awareness:
The central tool for the implementation of the CCD is the NAPs. The NAPs insist on active participation of the population in the planning process - a precondition which a number of countries evidently have significant problems with, as neither the administrative nor the political system is (yet) geared towards such democratic practices. As one NGO representative expressed; the quality of the NAPs can be seen as a direct function of the relationship between state/government and the civil society.

As the Convention itself has only limited funds, the need for supporting and qualifying the NGOs access to and inputs to the NAPs becomes vital. This need is general but definitely also so with regard to integration of sustainable energy as one of the means to combat desertification. NAPs will in the future be the central documents on which multi/bi-lateral donor negotiations will take place. It is therefore of the utmost strategic importance to work for ensuring that sustainable energy solutions are integrated in these NAPs.

Enda-tm will develop a program for conducting a regional workshop on integration of sustaianble energy in National Action Plans.
The secretariat will on the basis of aproject outline seek external bi-or multilateral funding for this project.

Regional Information:
It was apparent during the conference, and further pointed out during the informal meetings, that there is a need for a much more organised and systematised collection, documentation and dissemination of useful and replicable experiences within the West African region.

The Secretariat will enter into a dialogue with Enda-tm on how to design and implement an identification, documentation and dissemination study of lessons learnt with regard to the potential of sustainable energy in the West African Region.

The study should make maximum use of the advantages of being a network - but at the same realistic with regard to the limitations of modern communication facilities within the region. The study should involve as little travelling as possible and be based on a desk /Internet study.

The output could be communicated various ways; as a minimum through a French version of SEN and on the INFORSE
homepage. Part of the output of the study could form the basis for an exhibition to be presented during the COP III.

Members who are interested in contributing to this study are kindly requested to contact Enda-tm, Secou Sarr (Francophone) or
Susanne Backer, INFORSE secretariat (Anglophone).

South-South Co-operation

A number of promising co-operation ideas were identified during the smaller and informal meetings:

1. Exchange of experiences with repair and maintenance of solar systems between Senegal and Burkina Faso

2. Exchange between Ghana and Senegal

One of the INFORSE members, Friends of the Earth, Ghana, has some good experiences with fuel saving smoking of fish. Fishery
and conservation of fish is an important economic activity all along the West African coastline and along the rivers. There is thus an
evident opportunity to exchange and spread this knowledge. Throughout the region.

One new INFORSE member, WAAME, in Senegal is working with integrated development in the mangroves in Senegal.
WAAME is interested in investigating energy saving means on the small mangrove Islands. There seems to be a particular interest
in biogas.

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