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Cablegate: Unesco: Overview of Unesco's Work On Desertification And

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS PARIS 004206

SIPDIS

FROM USMISSION TO UNESCO PARIS

STATE FOR IO/UNESCO KEVIN PILZ, OES BARRIE RIPIN, OES/STATS ANDREW
W. REYNOLDS, OES/ETC ELEANORE FOX
STATE FOR NSC GENE WHITNEY
STATE FOR NSF INTERNATIONAL OFFICE ROSE GOMBAY AND DAVID SCHINDEL
STATE FOR NASA ELIZABETH WILLIAMS
STATE FOR USAID FRANKLIN MOORE, MARY ROWEN, CHIP BARBER, AND MIKE
MCGAHUEY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KS AORC TSPL EAID SENV SOCI UNESCO KSCI
SUBJECT: UNESCO: OVERVIEW OF UNESCO'S WORK ON DESERTIFICATION AND
ARID ZONES

REFTEL: 05 PARIS 05855

1. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY. At a June 13 information session,
UNESCO secretariat experts discussed the continuing progress the
organization has made with regard to desertification and arid zones.
After outlining UNESCO's history of action in this area, panelists
presented some of UNESCO's current programs to combat
desertification, including the International Hydrological Program's
(IHP's) Water and Development Information for Arid Lands (G-WADI)
program, a new Teaching Resource Kit for teachers in arid regions,
and plans for ecotourism. The presentation, part of the "60 Minutes
to Convince" series celebrating UNESCO's 60th year, was timed to
precede the June 19-21 conference "The Future of Drylands," that
will take place in Tunis, Tunisia, to mark the International Year of
Deserts and Desertification. END INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY.

COMBATING DESERTIFICATION AND CONSERVING WATER

2. Thomas Schaaf, of UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) program,
highlighted UNESCO's progress in combatting desertification over the
past 50 years. He discussed how UNESCO's focus has shifted from
just protecting the natural environment to evaluating human needs as
well. UNESCO in recent years has also focused on information
exchange, trying to replicate successes in one dryland area in
others. To that end, Schaaf discussed the successes of the
Sustainable Management of Marginal Drylands (SUMAMAD) project, a
program that strives for sustainable conservation in the Arab States
and Asia. Another successful sustainable development project lauded
by the panelists (all from the UNESCO Secretariat) was the IHP's
G-WADI program, whose goal is to create a global community to
strengthen global capacity to manage water resources in arid and
semi-arid areas. Annukka Lipponen, of the Division of Water
Sciences, presented this program.

NEW INITIATIVES: TEACHER RESOURCE KITS AND ECOTOURISM

3. Panelist Helene Gille, of the Division of Ecological and Earth
Sciences, described an interesting new project at MAB: Teacher
Resource Kits, designed to help educate young people about arid and
semi-arid environments. The lessons are for schoolchildren ages 6-15
and are meant to be incorporated into a normal curriculum. The kits
are specifically targeted for teachers in arid and semi-arid areas,
so children will not only understand the environment in which they
live, but also in the long run will be able to combat
desertification and land degradation. There are two different kits:
one for dryland areas and the other for mountainous ones. So far,
kits in nine languages have been distributed in over 40 countries.


4. Panelist Herve Barre, of the Division of Cultural Policies and
Intercultural Dialogue, discussed the potential for ecotourism in
desert and arid regions. He spoke of the rich natural and cultural
heritage in the desert, and called ecotourism tourism's "new
frontier." He also spoke of ecotourism's potential to promote local
economies and sustainable development. One concern raised about
ecotourism in the desert was that water should not be diverted from
the local population to satisfy the needs of tourists.
OLIVER

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