Expert Meeting on Synergies among the Conventions
Scientific Linkages and Complementaries between the Conventions on Climate Change, Biological Diversity, Desertification and the Forest Principles
2. Description of the Rio Instruments
3. The Scientific Linkages
4. The Scientific Relationships Between the Instruments
At the UNCED in Rio de Janeiro four important environmental instruments were agreed by 156 nations and the European Union: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD) and the Principles for a Global Consensus on the Management, Conservation and Sustainable Development of all Types of Forests (Forest Principles). That these four accords were agreed at the same time was in itself an important milestone in the history of environmental movement. Important because while the Instruments were separate they underscored the need to address these specific and important environmental issues.
But there is an even more important element about these instruments; they all recognize the interelated nature of issues and were based on scientific assessments which emphasize linkages between disciplines and the significance of addressing environmental issues in an integrated manner. Indeed, Sustainable Development by definition requires that issues be addressed holistically to ensure that one solution to one environmental concern does not introduce another.
The three Conventions and the Forest Principles represent international concerns on a variety of environmental issues. While these concerns appear at first somewhat unrelated, there are considerable similarities and complementaries at the legal level and linkages at the scientific level. The legal similarities and complementaries will be handled by a different companion paper at this workshop. The purpose of this paper is to examine the scientific links between issues on climate change, biodiversity, desertification and forests and how these links might inform policy makers in implementing the Rio instruments in an integrated, cost effective manner at the national, regional and global level.
The paper will draw on the known assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (IPCC) the Global Biodiversity Assessment (GBA) UNEP's assessments on desertification under the United Nations Plan of Action to Combat Desertification (PACD) (1992) and FAO's (1991) assessment of Status and Trends of World's Forests indicate the obvious scientific linkages. It will also identify existing scientific arrangements within the instruments and how these institutional arrangements might be exploited to facilitate synergy between the Conventions. A limited analysis of the economic, social and moral imperatives that formed the basis for these legal instruments will also flagged.
The conclusions will propose a way forward, not in a prescriptive manner, but options that Parties and the scientific community might wish to explore as a way forward. The emphasis here will be to draw on what we know about scientific linkages between the various fields and how the instruments' own provisions could provide an avenue for an integrated approach in implementing the instruments in future.
2. DESCRIPTION OF THE RIO INSTRUMENTS
The UNFCCC, the CBD, the CCD and the Forest Principles were agreed in Rio for one simple reason: they were necessary for the sustainable management and use of our natural resources for the benefit of future generations. These instruments derived their strengths from assessments carried out by many scientists. These assessments suggested that the manner in which man was utilizing existing resources was both untenable and unsustainable. They noted that Climate Change would have impacts that would vary from region to region and country to country and would depend on the country's capacity to respond and adapt to the changes. It was particularly observed that the impacts would be felt most severely in the developing countries [IPCC, 1990(a)]. The GBA noted that species had been made extinct as a result of human activities in the last few millennia and that the primary causes underlying the loss of biodiversity were demographics, economics, institutional and technological factors (UNEP 1995). The Desertification Convention recognizes that the implementation of the UNFCCC, the CBD and related environmental conventions [UNEP 1996 (d)] is significant in combating desertification. It also recognizes the need to combat desertification in order to improve the lot of developing countries, particularly the least developed among them. The Forest Principles recognize the central role of forests (all types of forests) to the conservation of biological diversity, sequestration of carbon and avoidance of desertification.
In this section we examine the scientific basis for the various Rio - instruments including the socio-economic motivation to negotiate the accords.
2.1 The Climate Convention
The issue of climate change was brought to the fore in the mid and early eighties when, through a series of meetings organized in part by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Villach and Bellagio, it was recognized that the emission of GHG at ever increasing rates was potentially deleterious to the atmospheric environment (WMO, 1985). In response to the identified problem, UNEP in collaboration with WMO, set up an Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases (AGGG) with the purpose of advising the Chief Executives of both UNEP and WMO on the issue of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities and implication for the climate system. Progressively, it became clear that the issue of climate change required a clear assessment by a body of scientists beyond the limited group (AGGG) advising the Chief Executives. Consequently, UNEP in association with the WMO, established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which was required to make assessments on the science of climate change, the socio-economic consequences of such a climate change and the formulation of realistic response strategies for the management of the climate issue.
The IPCC (1990), in its first assessment report, pointed out that climate change would occur if anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere continued at the 1990 rates and that the consequences would be a rise in sea level and adverse impacts on socio-economic systems. Response options were identified for possible implementation by policy makers.
Specifically, the IPCC [1990 (a,b,c,) & 1992] observed that the global mean surface temperature had increased by between 0.3 and 0.6°C since the late 19th Century; and that regional changes in climate had been identified. There were at that time, however considerable scientific uncertainties regarding our ability to attribute the observed changes to human activities.
The Second World Climate Conference (SWCC) reviewed the IPCC first assessment report and recommended a number of activities, notably monitoring, observations and research programmes to address the uncertainties (Jaeger and Ferguson 1991). Of particular concern was the assessments by the working group on Climate Impacts that climate change would impact more severely on developing countries because they are already under stress [IPCC, 1990 (b)].
The Ministerial Section of the SWCC recommended that an international climate regime be negotiated. This particular recommendation was made because:
(i) the IPCC had observed that the consequences of climate change were severe indeed and that the impacts on socio-economic systems would require that action be taken then to address the issue to forestall an irreversible commitment to climate change.
(ii) a number of key equity issues had arisen from the IPCC observations that the countries that would be impacted most severely were the developing countries, whereas they had done least to bring about climate change.
(iii) The IPCC [1990 (c)] had also established that there were measures at national, regional and global levels which, while helping to tackle climate change could yield other benefits and so a climate change regime would provide a level playing ground especially sincmitigation measures could introduce unfair competition in the market system.
2.2. Convention on Biological Diversity
The UNEP Governing Council in its Decisions 14/2 and 15/36 recognized the need for concerted international action to protect biological diversity on earth by inter alia, the implementation of existing legal instruments and agreements in a coordinated and effective way and the adoption of a further appropriate international legal instrument, possibly in the form of a framework convention. With these decisions, the seeds were sown for a convention on biological diversity.
An Ad hoc Working Group of Experts on Biological Diversity was established and held its first session in Geneva in November 1988 and the second one was held in 1990 also in Geneva. The significant point here is that it was the group of experts in the field of biodiversity that were meeting to advise on the elements of a new international legal instrument. This particular expert group also recommended the preparation of a number of studies as a means of responding to specific issues in the process of developing the new instrument. To assist in the preparation of more accurate estimates of the total costs of global biological diversity conservation needs, the UNEP contacted nine developing and developed countries (Brazil, Federal Republic of Germany, Indonesia, Madagascar, Nepal, Peru, Poland, Uganda, Zaire) with regard to initiating country studies to determine approximate conservation sites and conservation needs that have not been met. In the meantime, the Ecosystems Conservation Group (ECG) (FAO, UNESCO, IUCN and UNEP) continued to actively consider the matter of draft elements for consideration in the new legal instrument on biological diversity. Although the scientific basis that supported the proposed elements for inclusion in CBD were assessed in the Global Biodiversity Assessment (UNEP 1995) after the agreement on CBD, some of the scientists involved in this assessment were the same ones that played a major role in the group of experts meetings preceding the CBD.
The important point here is that the need to conserve biological diversity had been flagged by an expert group on the basis of scientific knowledge of the trend in loss of biological diversity. The GBA provided a detailed characterization of biodiversity, its magnitude, distribution, generation, maintenance and loss. It assessed the basic principles, inventory and monitoring of biodiversity and measures for conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of its components.
The key findings of the assessment are that while biodiversity is a vital resource for all humankind it was being destroyed by human activities at unprecedented rates. Without immediate action future actions would be restricted. Again, science informed the negotiating process and provided the critical justification for an additional legal instrument. This is particularly significant because other legal instruments addressing the conservation of some aspects of biodiversity existed, but the Group of Experts suggested that a more comprehensive legal instrument was necessary.
2.3. The Convention to Combat Desertification
In 1977, a United Nations Conference on Desertification (UNCOD) was convened in Nairobi, Kenya to produce an effective, comprehensive and coordinated programme for solving the problem of desertification. UNCOD was preceded by extensive, global, regional and local studies and consultations involving many Scientists' decision makers and relevant institutions all over the world (UNEP 1991). The UNCOD recommended the United Nations Plan of Action to Combat Desertification (PACD). However the implementation of PACD was severely hampered by limited resources while assessments made in 1984, 1987 and 1989 by UNEP indicated that desertification continued to spread and indeed the Brundtland report (Our Common Future 1988) observed that it had become one of the most serious environmental and socio-economic problems of the world.
The various assessments by UNEP continued to point out that desertification results from complex interactions among physical, chemical, biological, socio-economic and political problems, that were local, national and global in nature. There was considerable limitations on account of lack of data, but what little data existed showed that:
(i) the largest degraded rangelands were in Asia followed by Africa
(ii) the greatest areas of degraded irrigated lands were in drylands of Asia
(iii) major areas of degraded soils are confined to semi-arid and arid zones.
In addition to these assessments UNEP(1992) produced a World Atlas of Desertification (UNEP 199). The assessments, the resultant Atlas and the persistent pleas by countries affected by desertification and the socio-economic implications of desertification and its environmental impact persuaded countries to negotiate a Convention to Combat Desertification. We see again that assessments in this case, even when greatly hampered by lack of data pointed to the need for an international treaty. Table 1. gives the status of desertification in the world as established by a series of assessments (UNEP 1991).
Table 1. Status of desertification in the world (UNEP - 1992).
|Million hectares||% of total drylands|
|1. Degraded irrigated lands||43||0.8|
|2. Degraded rainfed croplands||216||4.1|
|3. Degraded rangeland [soil and vegetation degradation]||757||14.6|
|4. Drylands with human-induced soil degradation [GLASOD][1+2+3]||1,016||19.5|
|5. Degraded rangelands [vegetation degradation without recorded soil degradation||2,576||50.0|
|6. Total degraded drylands [4+5]||3,592||69.5|
|7. Non-degraded drylands||1,580||30.5|
|8. Total area of drylands excluding hyper-arid deserts [6+7]||5,172||100.0|
2.4. The Forest Principles
The Forest Principles while not legally binding, contribute significantly to the proper management, conservation and sustainable development of forests. As stated in the preamble, the principles point to the need for a holistic examination of forest issues in the larger context of environment and development.
What is the scientific basis for this concern on forests that gave rise to the Forest Principles? As discussed earlier, many assessments - climate change, biodiversity, and desertification have been carried out. All of these assessments point to the significant role of forests in climate change, habitat maintenance for biological diversity and forestalling land degradation and desertification.
Studies [IPCC 1990 (a,b,c), 1995 (a,b, c)] indicate that conversion of forest land to agricultural land releases carbon into the atmosphere through burning and decay. Regrowth of forests withdraws carbon from the atmosphere and stores it again in trees and soils. Estimates show that there is a net flux of carbon into the atmosphere as a result of land use changes of 1.7GtC/yr + 30%. Disturbed forest (e.g as a result of forest fires) tend to become a net carbon source into the atmosphere. Such disturbances have been associated with warming. Climate change can therefore affect forests' capacity to store carbon.
Changes in forest cover also influence the surface albedo and can affect local and regional climates besides compromising the quality of soils and encouraging soil erosion by both wind and water leading to land degradation and/or desertification.
Forests are important habitats for many species. The GBA has made a strong pitch for the conservation of habitats in different biomes (UNEP, 1995). Specifically it is observed that "in continental terrestrial ecosystems, the most important mechanism for loss of biodiversity is the loss, fragmentation and degradation of habitat" (UNEP, 1995). It is clear therefore that forests as habitats for biodiversity need protection hence the Forest Principles.
It should be noted parenthetically that the original idea was for a forest treaty and the Principles were a compromise between two divergent views on whether or not a need existed for a treaty on forests. These concerns were rooted in the by some that a binding legal instrument would greatly hinder the exploitation of forests as a natural resource of states, while there were those who felt that the present rate of deforestation would lead to climate change, desertification and loss of biological diversity and hence the need to control the rate of deforestation through an international treaty. There was, indeed another school which felt that the provisions of the UNFCC, the CBD and the CCD would lead to a sustainable exploitation of forests and therefore an international treaty on forests appeared superfluous.
3. THE SCIENTIFIC LINKAGES
We have seen that scientific assessments informed the negotiating processes for the Rio instruments and that the assessments included an estimate of the socio-economic implications of climate change, biodiversity loss, desertification and deforestation. A general characteristic of the assessments is that they recognize the scientific linkages between the various disciplines. Indeed the very composition of experts with different backgrounds was an acknowledgement of interdisciplinary nature of the issues under review. The assessments are a summary of extensive experimental, theoretical (modelling work for example) and observational studies carried out by research groups, individual scientists and international research programmes. The development of General Circulation Models (GCMs) for climate studies mainly by Universities and research centres in the north, the activities under the World Climate Research Programme under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), the ecosystems research carried out by many scientists the world over and the systematic studies on the effects of climate change on forests and the feedbacks into climate, the assessments of desertification under the Plan of Action to Combat Desertification, have all formed the basis for the assessments. Any attempt to discuss scientific linkages in a paper of this length can hardly scratch the surface of the depth of knowledge available. This section will therefore only give, where appropriate instructive examples of scientific linkages.
3.1 Climate, Biodiversity and Forests
The linkages between climate and forests has been extensively discussed in the IPCC [1990 (a,b,c), 1996 (a,b,c)] assessments. Widespread deforestation converts forest trees into carbon dioxide and reduces the vegetative cover for CO2 storage. It alters local and regional climate. Specifically, by removing vegetative cover, deforestation reduces the water retention capacity of the soil and increases soil erosion. Studies by Myers (1988) suggest that widespread deforestation appeared to dry up climates of surrounding areas in selected regions. The sustainable use of forests would among other things help keep in equilibrium balance atmospheric concentration of carbon.
Policy makers need to understand the other side of the coin that is, how forest tree species might be affected by predicted climate change important for conservation of biodiversity. Recent work by Sykes et al (1996) would appear to shed light on this issue. Using a bioclimatic model to determine the potential distribution of north European tree species he finds that as winters warm various tree species, areal coverage expand and contract appropriately. More significantly they find that the expected future rate of warming is much faster than the past climate variabilities. In particular, they observe that the time required for major tree taxa to establish new equilibrium distribution is between 100 and 1500 yrs. Because climate change is expected to occur much faster, a disequilibrium between species distribution will occur as climate changes. This suggests that climate change would not only have a direct impact on distribution of species, but that given the higher rate of warming species could become extinct leading to loss of biodiversity. The conservation of forests is important for climate change and critical for sustenance of biodiversity while at the same time a higher rate of change of climate poses a threat both to the habitats of species, (forests for example) and species diversity.
There are global scale biogeophysical feedbacks into climate. Specifically, changes in ecosystem structure and function will affect climate. For example the exchange of water and energy between the land surface and the atmosphere is controlled by vegetation. Vegetation structure will influence surface albedo, roughness length, canopy conductance and rooting depth. Climate change will also impact on biodiversity of small and large animals. Fish populations, for example, are influenced by many elements of their natural environments (UNEP 1994) during each phase of their life cycle. Change, no matter how subtle, in key environmental variables such as temperature, salinity, strength of upwelling, greatly affect abundance (and diversity) distribution and availability of fish populations. To the extent that sea level is expected to rise, and to the extent that climate change will affect wind fields over the oceans and therefore strengths of currents and upwelling, there is a linkage between diversity of fish and climate change.
As climate change will impact on the productivity of grasses in a particular ecosystem habitat for wildlife, it will affect wildlife biodiversity especially large animals. Increased surface temperature which may result in reduction in land vegetation cover will affect soil microbial diversity due to enhanced exposure to higher temperatures.
3.2 Desertification and Climate
The relationship between desertification and climate resembles the proverbial chicken and egg problem. The array of impacts of climate on land and the implications of degraded land surface for the climate system are many. We shall site but only a few examples.
It should be noted that the Convention to Combat Desertification makes specific reference to areas experiencing serious drought and/or desertification.
In order to provide a substantive scientific document for understanding the important interaction of climate and drought with land degradation and desertification, UNEP and WMO decided to jointly prepare a comprehensive report on current knowledge of these interactions. Profs. Williams and Balling undertook to do this in collaboration with other scientists and have produced a credible assessment of the state of knowledge of the interactions (Williams and Balling 1996). They find that humans do impact on surface characteristics and atmospheric composition of various dryland regions. Such impacts include, breakdown on soil structure, reduction in soil moisture retention, increased surface runoff, reduction in species diversity, increase in aerosol and trace gas emissions from burning etc.
In response to such human impacts on drylands, climate is greatly influenced via energy balance of both the surface and atmosphere of the earth. The change in albedo affects the amount of solar radiation absorbed by the surface and changes in soil moisture levels affect the portion of energy used in evaporation and transpiration processes. Changes in surface roughness influence wind speeds and turbulence which have a bearing on evapotranspiration. Atmospheric composition will affect atmospheric temperature profiles and influence capacity to generate precipitation on the ground.
Considerable modelling work, notably that of Charney (1975) and Charney et al (1975, 1977) has been carried out on the biogeophysical feedback mechanisms that could initiate and reinforce drought in sub-Saharan Africa because of vegetation depletion. The removal of vegetation increases surface albedo, decreases net shortwave radiation, decreasing the relative emission of longwave radiation. These processes reduce net radiation at the surface and transfer to the atmosphere. These changes would induce subsidence and suppress convention. In other words, hinder the development of precipitation leading to droughts and desertification.
4. THE SCIENTIFIC RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN THE INSTRUMENTS
It is necessary to examine the Rio Treaties to assess the extent to which provisions for specific actions at the scientific level can be exploited to evolve synergistic approach in the implementation of the instruments. No suggestion will be made here to introduce any new policy issues. What we seek to explore is how, in implementing the existing provisions in the Rio instruments we could encourage cost effective integrated policy approaches at the national, regional and global levels. In other words, we seek to highlight the extent to which provisions in the Rio treaties allow for interdisciplinary efforts in addressing specific issues and what mechanisms need to be put in place at the various levels to fulfil the spirit and letter of these provisions.
4.1 The Subsidiary Bodies for Scientific and Technological Advice
Article 25 of the CBD, provides for the establishment of a Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA). The UNFCCC provides, under article 9 for a Subsidiary Body for Science and Technological Advice. The CCD in its article 24 established a Committee on Science and Technology.
All these bodies have a number of common elements:
These common elements suggest that the negotiators already appreciated the need for synergy which is why there is emphasis on multidisciplinary group of experts in the various fields. They also recognized that selection of representatives by the Parties to these Bodies should be on the basis of expertise so that the advise is given by informed body of experts with a proven scientific and/or technical/technological track record. Indeed the wordings in the CBD and UNFCCC are so similar that one is tempted to believe that some element of synergy had started to take root during the negotiations.
The major problem, and the task before this workshop is how the different Scientific and Technical Advisory Bodies which receive, as they must, instructions from different Conferences of Parties can develop synergies at the working level so that they can catalyse similar synergies at the national and regional levels. The real question is at what levels should such synergies start? In many developed countries considerable consultations take place across disciplines and national consultative mechanisms are advanced and in place. The situation in many developing countries, however, is far from satisfactory. Efforts must therefore be made to encourage these synergies in the developing countries.
Given the differences, there is a case for a two pronged approach in developing synergies. For those countries where synergies are evident at the national level, these should be infused upwards into regional and global initiatives. For countries where national coordination mechanisms remain weak, global level synergistic efforts could assist, and indeed catalyse synergies at the regional and national levels.
The basic problem at the global level is whether or not the Conferences of Parties (CoP's) are willing to encourage, at the operational levels, synergies in implementing the provisions of their respective conventions. There is suggestive evidence however, that this is the case at least from the CoP of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
In its decision II/4, the Conference of the Parties invited the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to liaise with the Commission for Sustainable Development to organize an open-ended intergovernmental workshop on the study of the relationships between the Convention on Biological Diversity and other related international Conventions on related issues taking into consideration existing studies and the expertise available in non governmental organizations and relevant institutions. Financial constraints and poor response to UNEP's request for support from donor governments have made it difficult to implement this decision.
The decision however, left it open to the judgement of others as to what constituted "related Issues", "related fields" and "Conventions related to the CBD". In its latest decision III/21 during its 3rd meeting, the CoP of CBD was a lot more specific in its instructions on the type of corporation and with whom.
For these initiatives to have the effect they are capable of having, similar initiatives need to be introduced by the Conferences of the Parties to the other two Conventions. The reason simply is that whereas the subsidiary body of the CBD and its secretariats have got their mandate, the other subsidiary bodies and secretariats have no such mandate to relate to the other subsidiary bodies. Indeed decision III/21 operative Paragraph 9 asks for just that.
Having said that, there appears to be a window for cooperation with regard to providing advice on scientific programmes, international cooperation in research and development. We shall discuss this later, but suffice here to state that such a cooperation does not necessarily empower a subsidiary body of one convention to liaise with and collaborate with a subsidiary body of another. Such collaboration would need to be further elaborated by a CoP as provided for in say Article 9(3) of UNFCCC, and 25(3) of CBD.
4.2 Provision for Monitoring, Observation, Research and Development
Article 5 of the UNFCCC, Article 7 & 12 of the CBD, and Article 17 of the CCD all make reference to the need for Parties to develop and strengthen, national regional and international research capabilities and to support intergovernmental programmes and networks or organizations in their observation and monitoring programmes. These provisions allow the convention secretariats under the guidance of their CoPs to liaise with international organizations in matters related to research, monitoring, systematic observation and networking in order that new knowledge, technologies can be brought to the attention of the CoPs for further refinements of the provisions of the conventions.
As pointed out earlier, there appears to be a window here for cooperation between the Subsidiary Bodies for Science and Technological Advice to get involved in work outside the Convention itself. Specifically, in as much as these bodies are required to assess the state of the science and technology, there is a need for linkage between them and the scientific community. Indeed we have already seen that under the UNFCCC, the Subsidiary Body for Science and Technological Advice has requested the IPCC, an assessment body, to carry out specific assessments and provide inputs to assist in elaborating a possible protocol under the Berlin Mandate. But, it did so after a specific mandate (the Berlin Mandate) from the Conference of the Parties.
But cooperation and collaboration between convention entities and the scientific community, the international organizations is fully mandated, as pointed above, by specific provisions of the conventions. Since these provisions call for Parties to initiate action, it is necessary that such action be coordinated and synergized at the national level first. Activities related to climate change should be integrated with activities related to conservation of biological diversity, and those related to combating desertification. such synergy can be developed if, at the national level a Committee on Global Change is put in place as is the case in some developed countries. Such a committee could have multidisciplinary sub-committees on climate change, desertification and biological diversity.
The Convention to Combat Desertification has a specific article (Art. 25) on networking of institutions, agencies and bodies. The UNFCCC in Article 5 calls upon the Parties to "promote access to, and exchange of data and analyses thereof obtained from areas beyondnational jurisdiction" while the CBD in its Article 18(3) calls for the establishment of a clearing house mechanism to promote and facilitate technical and scientific cooperation. The need for coorperation is very basic to the Forest Principles. Specifically Principle 12(a) calls for the strengthening of scientific research, forest inventories and assessments through effective modalities such as international cooperation.
Only through networking at the national, regional and international levels can knowledge be freely shared, taken full advantage of, and duplication avoided. Indeed, assessments can only be effective if the scientific community is fully informed of scientific and technical work, no matter how modest, going on all over the world at the national, regional and global levels.
any similarities and complementarities exist between the three Rio Treaties and the Forest Principles and we have established that their negotiations were informed by a variety of assessments carried out by the international scientific community. To address the concern these instruments seek to reddress requires collaboration and cooperation among many different disciplines at national, regional and international levels and indeed these have been acknowledged by all the instruments in their own provisions.
There is a need to develop synergies between the instruments in terms of their implementation at the national, regional, and global levels. To do so effectively it is proposed that: A two pronged approach be used to address the issues:
(i) where synergies and integrated approach to issues covered by the instruments already exist, as is the case in some developed countries, these examples be infused upwards into the regional and international levels.
(ii) that at the international levels, efforts be made to enhance collaboration and cooperation between the existing Subsidiary Bodies for Scientific and Technical Advice and collaboration with international monitoring, observational, and research and development programmes in order to catalyse integrated approaches at the regional and national levels.
At the national level, National Global Change Committees be put in place with multidisciplinary sub-committees on climate change, biological diversity and desertification.
A sine qua non for meaningful assessments necessary to inform Parties to the various conventions is a proper exchange of data, information and a comprehensive networking of institutions, scientists, agencies and bodies as provided for in the Convention to Combat Desertification.
A possible coordinating mechanism should be explored by the respective Conferences of the Parties empowering their respective Secretariats, or Subsidiary Bodies, as appropriate, to liaise with each other with a view to developing and strengthening cooperation and synergies in the implementation of the conventions at various levels.
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