Within UNCCD good NGO-friends are very valuable (Willem)

The high value of NGO-friends

I have been active in 1992-2006 within the UNCCD as the representative of the Belgian experts on desertification and as a member of the scientific community of the Convention (CST).  We are all aware of the very important role played by NGOs in the combat of desertification and the alleviation of poverty, particularly in the field actions for sustainable development (agriculture, horticulture, pastoralism, etc).  Looking back at that fantastic period, I am happy to have lived several opportunities to underline the importance of NGO-contributions in successes booked within the UNCCD-framework, although it was not always easy to get NGO-participation in decision-making accepted at the highest (political) level.  I know what I am saying, because I have also been the president of the Belgian NGO TC-DIALOGUE for many years.  Fortunately, a lot of progress for the NGOs has been registered in most of the countries, but not in all.

Today, I received a message reminding me of that successful cooperation with some of the NGOs, in particular the very effective cooperation in field projects, like the one with SCOPE PAKISTAN of my very good friend Tanveer ARIF.  Here goes his message :
It’s me again, your friend Tanveer Arif.
Greetings for Christmas and New Year.
This is a wonderful, really wonderful blog. Please include http://www.dry-net.org which is a EU supported networking project, of which SCOPE Pakistan is also a partner, including 14 NGOs around the world. The main objective of DRYNET is to strengthen capacities of civil society organizations in all regions to strengthen implementation of UNCCD. We launched DRYNET at CoP-8 at Madrid, where we missed you a lot.

Regards, Tanveer

Dear Tanveer,

Sincere thanks for the appreciation for my blog.  You know that, since the very first COP, I asked the UNCCD and the CST to set up such a “well of information on desertification“. Being unsuccessful with that idea (reasons given : lack of money, lack of UNCCD-staff), I launched my private TC-Dialogue/UNCCD network by sending almost every week an email with the most important info on desertification to more than 1000 interested people (The TC-CCD Network).  I was very happy when the UNCCD-secretariat took over this network, but unfortunately this lasted only for one year, after which it came back to me. That was the moment to transform the email-network into my actual DESERTIFICATION-blog.  Today, I am proud to be able to collect info on desertification from the internet and other sources and to offer the result of such a screening to all the visitors of my blog, which in turn offers them considerable saving of a lot of time (see my introductory page “Why this blog?“).

At my age, it is more important to serve others than to perform for personal ambitions !  So, if my readers discover interesting information about all aspects of desertification, poverty, agriculture and horticulture, they can always send me that information and I will put it on this blog, which is functioning as a sort of library on desertification.  That’s what you did, Tanveer, by sending me the info on DRYNET and its website  http://www.dry-net.org , which I  strongly recommend to my readers.

Thanks, Tanveer, and I hope your example will be followed by many others.  Here is my appeal to all my visitors (close to 100.000 already !) : please send me information on interesting publications on desertification, in order to help me to pass it on to all friends of the desertification family.

Send your “desertification news” to :


As we move through this holiday season, all the best to you and your loved ones. I hope that you will have the opportunity to rest and enjoy yourself during these days. Let us be excited about finishing 2007 in good health and preparing for an excellent start in 2008.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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