03/29/2013 10:42 EDT | Updated 05/29/2013 05:12 EDT

Canada's pullout of UN drought convention called 'regrettable'

The United Nations has responded to Canada's withdrawal from a UN convention that fights the spread of droughts, calling the pullout "regrettable."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said Canada was withdrawing from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification because the program has proven too bureaucratic.

He has said less than one-fifth of the $350,000 Canada contributes to the convention goes to programming, while Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird called the entire process a "talkfest" that does a disservice to Canadian taxpayers.

But in a press release issued on Friday, the convention secretariat based in Bonn, Germany, said the convention is the only legally binding instrument addressing desertification and drought and pointed out that Canada itself is "frequently subjected to drought."

The UN body also said the convention is "stronger that ever before" making Canada's decision to withdraw from it "all the more regrettable."

The UNCCD says Canada is believed to have played a significant role in the convention's progress and added that it believed Canada would "seize every opportunity to sustain the implementations of the convention for the good of present and future generations."