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Vl. Collaboration with other United Nations programmes

Co-operation with UNESCO under the Man and Biosphere Programme

J. Cuttaree of UNESCO emphasized that the Man and Biosphere Programme (MAB) was essentially a collection of projects by individual countries, although there were in addition some international projects which had benefited from limited funding from the centre. The MAB programme was essentially aimed at helping countries to formulate and develop integrated research projects in the field of natural resources management by providing technical assistance and catalytic funding.

MAB Project 3 (Impact of Human Activities and Land Use Practices on Grazing Lands) and Project 4 (Impact of Human Activities on the Dynamics of Arid and Semi-arid Zones' Ecosystems, with Particular Attention to the Effect of Irrigation) were both relevant to the United Nations University Arid Lands Sub-programme. In his view there was no danger of serious duplication of work by UNESCO and the UN University; indeed, there was considerable room for collaboration. The UN University approach, in line with its objective, should emphasize research and training; MAB is also interested in training, especially in Africa, but does not have sufficient resources to organize the number of training activities required to meet current demand. MAB works through governments, whilst the UN University works through universities. MAB aims to create a small but effective network of field projects, whereas the UN University is building a network of associated institutions.

In the field of training, the UN University should stress postgaduate training, whilst MAB should specialize in the training of middle-level manpower. In this context, Cuttaree emphasized that the UN University should be giving training to people who would in turn be in a position to train others.

Co-operation with the United Nations Sudano-Sahelian Office (UNSO) in Combating Desertification in the Sudano-Sahelian Region

R. P. Mendez of the United Nations Sudano-Sahelian Office (UNSO) stated that his organization was established in 1973 as the focal point of the UN system in assisting the eight drought-stricken member states of the Permanent Inter-state Committee on Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) in their rehabilitation following the drought, and in their medium- to long-term development. The UNSO mandate was enlarged by the General Assembly in December 1978 to include the provision of assistance to 15 countries south of the Sahara and north of the equator in combating desertification under the UNEP programme. These 15 countries,with a population of 192 millions, were the poorest in the world. In carrying out its new mandate, UNSO was being guided by environmental as well as by developmental considerations, and was using a multidisciplinary approach. Mendez expressed the view that these desertification-control projects were not only technically feasible but also economically viable, and that they had enormous, if not always quantifiable, potential social benefits.

UNSO did not operate through an endowment fund, as did the UN University, but supported projects as and when needed through a trust fund, or by mobilizing resources provided directly to projects by bilateral and multilateral agencies.

In reply to questions, Mendez noted that UNSO's interest in research had so far focused on the applied sector. It was in this area that it would be interested in co~operating with the UN University on certain specified topics such as sand-dune fixation and the investigation of promising drought resistant plant species. UNSO had not yet set aside a definite sum for research and training in general, because it had tended to operate through specific projects.

In the discussion which ensued it was emphasized that the UNU Arid Lands Sub~programme naturally encompassed problems of aridity and desertification, and that it should take into special consideration the problems of those African countries suffering from desertification. It was also pointed out that there was room for co operation between the UN University and UNSO, as well as with other UN agencies, to achieve control of desertification.

One suggested area of collaboration between the University and UNSO was that the former should be asked to evaluate the success of completed UNSO projects, and Thimm's work on projects in Sudan was mentioned as an example of what could be done. Mendez commented however that UNSO already had provision for monitoring the execution of projects, in terms of its accountability to the donor community.

On the question as to whether UNSO activities could be extended to include other areas such as the Sudan, Mendez replied that UNSO's mandate had been only recently widened, that it was interested in the Sudan, and that it would look at possibilities for future co-operation with the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of Khartoum.

Comparison was made between the objectives of UNSO and those the UN University. For example technical cooperation could take the form of involvement by the University in training and research into certain aspects of desertification, but not in operational aspects. Among possible topics for research by the University were the consequences of drought, prediction of and periodicity of drought, contingency plans for drought, and similar subjects with a practical application.

Finally, on behalf of UNSO, the speaker made the following recommendations on co-operation with the UN University.

1. The Arid Lands Sub-programme of the UN University should establish research activities into problems of drought and desertification control;
2. The experience of developing countries suffering from dessertification should be identified and shared through programmes of technical co operation for development (TCDC);
3. The vast and pressing problem of the Sudano-Sahelian zone should receive special attention.
UNSO was interested in developing systematic arrangements for co operation with the UN University and would welcome its assistance in identifying experts and centres of expertise in relevant disciplines. It would also like to have the University's assistance in holding workshops on selected topics.

Collaboration with the Desertification Group of the United Nations Environment Programme

Hogel submitted that there were two important areas which Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), agreed that failure to maintain a balance in many arid lands livelihood systems is linked with failure to apply available knowledge. He emphasized that neither UNEP nor the UN University had an exclusive mandate for the provision of training in relation to desertification control; nevertheless, training and education are fundamental to international efforts to combat desertification, as in the implementation of the UN Plan of Action. Training should include vocational training to develop scientific capabilities to secure the proper application of existing knowledge in specific situations, and also the promotion of an awareness of the need to combat desertification. The training of middle-level technicians was regarded by UNEP as being of crucial importance.

Hogel submitted that there were two important areas which provide scope for interaction between the UNU Arid Lands Sub-programme and the activities of the Desertification Unit of UNEP. The first is the assessment of world needs for training, drawing up a compendium of existing facilities and identifying gaps to be filled. The second is an analysis of the social, economic, and political factors that contribute to desertification, in which the UN University and UNEP could co-operate in selected case studies from which general conclusions might be drawn.

In the discussions which followed it was pointed out that there is a need for an atlas or typology of dryland settings, in natural environmental and in social terms, which could help identify typical problem areas. Against this framework there could be a selection of between six and eight case studies from which insight might be gained of the social and environmental problems and processes associated with desertification. The case studies should preferably be areas where development is taking place, and the duration of each study should be about 12 months. The case study reports would be followed by an effort to identify common principles which would help in formulating guidelines for combative operations.

The role of the UN University in the field of research was stressed. The theme "Obstacles to the Application of Existing Knowledge" was an important one. In pursuing it the UN University has the advantage of not being an implementing agent, giving it the freedom to step back and look at the way knowledge is handled within the various disciplines involved.

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