February 28, 2007
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FROM VOLUME 7, NUMBER 7, JULY 1994
NEWS... 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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