The first meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating
Committee on Desertification (INC-D) takes place in   
Nairobi in late May. The INC-D will be responsible for
drawing up the Convention to Combat Desertification, as
agreed at the Earth Summit in June 1992. A matter of   
life and death for many of the world's dryland
inhabitants, desertification has confounded the
attempts of the international community to deal with
the problem in the past. If current efforts are to
prove successful, it is essential that, amongst other
things, measures are based on an accurate technical,
socio-economic and political assessment of the problem.

In our first article, Michael Bernard Kwesi Darkoh
discusses the many factors which lead to
desertification, including resource management failure
and the role of climate variability. He also considers
the problems which have plagued the previous
international effort to limdesertification, the UN 
Plan of Action to Combat Desertification.

The world's wetlands too are suffering from a lack of  
appropriate resource management policies. A vital
resource, their loss has serious consequences for those
dependent on their products and for the wider
environment. Zakir Hussain discusses the main problems
facing the coastal and freshwater wetlands of southern
Asia and the steps urgently required to protect them.

The international community is also heavily involved in
the attempt to protect Bangladesh from the impact of
severe flooding. Hugh Brammer, a member of the expert
panel of the Flood Action Plan (FAP), describes the   
main elements of the FAP and Mohiuddin Farooque, in an
interview with Tiempo, provides a critical perspective.