The Programme of Catalytic Support to Implement the Convention to Combat Desertification in West Asia and North Africa is the Arab States component of the Integrated Drylands Development Programme (IDDP), a global UNDP initiative designed to support the implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.

Implemented by the Nairobi-based Global Policy Centre on Resilient Ecosystems and Desertification in 20 countries in Africa, Asia and the Arab States, the IDDP addresses three interlinked issues of importance to poverty alleviation in the drylands, namely: 1) Mainstreaming drylands development issues into national policy and planning frameworks; 2) Improving governance, management and use of natural resources; and 3) Improving livelihoods and building resilience of dryland populations to socio-economic and climate stress. Its main donors include Norway, Finland, Denmark, Japan and the European Union.

In the Arab States, IDDP support is channeled through the “Programme of Catalytic Support to Implement the UN Convention to Combat Desertification in West Asia and North Africa”. This Programme was initiated in 2001 as a partnership between the Government of Finland and UNDP to support the implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD) in North Africa and West Asia. The Programme aims to mobilize partners and resources to improve the living conditions and management of natural resources in areas affected by desertification and drought in six partner countries, namely: Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria (provisions are made to resume activities in this country once the security situation permits). This is achieved through the provision of technical support, policy advice and catalytic funding for national/country office programming.

Over the years, the Programme has evolved into a credible vehicle for CCD implementation and drylands development through the provision of policy advice, technical support and mobilization of partners and resources for integrated programming (at the poverty/environment nexus). The effectiveness of the Programme has been confirmed by three independent evaluations commissioned by the Government of Finland in 2004 and 2008 and 2011. The sustainability of the Programme is enhanced through its relevance to the priorities of partner countries - as reflected by the high level of national financial contributions to Programme activities - and its participatory governance structure embodied by its Advisory Committee (AC) which is made up of representatives of MoFA, UNDP and partner countries. The AC meets annually to review progress, agree on the steps forward and provide an opportunity for experience exchange among Programme partners.

The Programme has recently been extended for a fifth phase in 2013-2016.

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