JOINT MEDIA RELEASE
MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
12 December 1999
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) - Ratification by Australia
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, and the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Robert Hill, today announced that the Commonwealth Government has moved a step closer to ratification of the United Nations Convention To Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
Consistent with Australia's treaty making processes, the National Interest Analysis (NIA) on the UNCCD was today tabled in both houses of Federal Parliament. Ratification will now be subject to examination by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Treaties (JSCOT).
Australia signed the Convention in 1994 and the Commonwealth Government has since been engaged in consultations with State and Territory Governments as well as many non- government and business stakeholders in the issue of ratification. Consultations are now complete.
The UNCCD promotes sustainable dryland management in developing countries, particularly in Africa. Mr Downer and Senator Hill said ratification of the Convention would reinforce international recognition of Australia's capacity and expertise in overcoming land degradation and desertification problems.
"Not only would ratification be good for the environment, it would also be good for Australian business working internationally on drought mitigation and land degradation problems," Mr Downer said.
Senator Hill added that Australia's achievements in reversing land degradation trends would be in the spotlight at the International Landcare 2000 Conference in Melbourne next March.
"Evidence of good progress towards ratification would further reinforce our commitment to sustainable land use both at home and abroad," Senator Hill said.
"Australia had much to be proud of in tackling our land degradation problems. We should not be shy in show-casing our achievements, and the Landcare Conference and other international gatherings next year would provide us with the perfect opportunity," he said.
Mr Downer pointed out that Australian aid for desertification and land degradation related projects overseas already amounted to approximately $32.5 million.
"Ratification would make no substantial difference to our clear commitment, in dollar terms, to reversing desertification. But by ratifying, Australia will be in a much better position to help ensure that implementation of the Convention is properly carried out and it is effective in its delivery of assistance to affected developing countries," Mr Downer said.
Australia would also work towards improving co-ordination between other donors and international funding bodies, like the Global Environment Facility of the World Bank, and recipient countries.
The Ministers confirmed that ratification would not entail any changes to existing land management arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States.
According to the United Nations, approximately 15 per cent of the world's population and 25 per cent of the total land area of the Earth is directly affected by land degradation and desertification processes. The consequences of these pressures fall hardest on developing countries and remediation requires support from the international donor community, of which Australia is a member.
Ministerial - Innes Willox (02) 6277 7500
Departmental - Matt Francis (02) 6261 1555
Copyright Commonwealth of Australia | Disclaimer | Privacy