LCDS made significant efforts to comply with FPIC requirements
I wish to refer to Stabroek News front page article under the caption ‘Indigenous leaders call for the hold on LCDS, REDD + projects’ and Kaieteur News article under the caption ‘Amerindian community slam LCDS consultation – current mining practices do not respect rights’ in their issues of Wednesday March 10, 2010.
Kindly allow me to raise the following points:
- Contrary to the APA’s views on the LCDS consultations, the Government of Norway responded to President Jagdeo request for independent monitoring of the stakeholder consultation process in Guyana to ensure it was guided by internationally accepted principles and standards, by engaging the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) to monitor the LCDS consultations.
- The IIED issued a report at the conclusion of the LCDS consultation process which stated that “overall, the independent monitoring team finds that the process of multi-stakeholder consultation surrounding Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy has broadly followed principles derived from international best practice and has met these criteria. It is the opinion of this team that the consultation process to the extent that its findings inform a revised LCDS can be considered credible, transparent and inclusive. The report went on to state, the government commitment to transparency and accountability has been exemplary during the preliminary consultation process of the LCDS.”
- Amerindian lawyer Mr. David James also participated in the LCDS consultations being a member of the LCDS Multi-stakeholder Steering Committee (MSSC). He too can attest to the credibility, transparency and inclusiveness of the LCDS consultations. Mr. James was also a member of the Government of Guyana delegation to the Climate Conference in Copenhagen last year December 2009. But Mr. James needs to be consistent in his view on the LCDS consultations saying different things at different fora.
- Guyana LCDS and REDD+ initiative respectfully upholds the principle of free, prior and informed consent when it comes to the participation of Amerindians communities and any views to the contrary can be deemed to be misleading, misinformation and destructive.
- If the APA wanted to play a constructive and meaningful role in the LCDS process in Guyana, they would have accepted the invitation issued to them to become a member of the LCDS MSSC. But they chose not to be and instead prefer to carryout the divisive instructions of their foreign financial backers which have nothing to so with the social and economic upliftment of Guyana Amerindians.
- But mischief-making was afoot. The APA decided to hold their so-called workshop at the time when a Norwegian team visited Guyana to capture their attention so as to stop the LCDS process from moving forward.
- But the APA is not interested in the development of Amerindian communities in Guyana. What they are interested in is the destruction of any project that seeks to enhance the standard of living of the Amerindians communities. This is what they did to the GPAS project. They are now working to destroy the LCDS and REDD+ initiative under the pretext that the free prior and informed principle was not followed. This is a blatant lie.
- The Amerindian community, Guyana’s non-indigenous society and international donors should take note of the APAS destructive programme under the pretext of ‘indigenous peoples and concerns.”
- The Amerindian communities should know by now that before they can become participants of the LCDS and REDD+ initiative they will first have to give their consent after a consultation process.
- The Amerindian communities should also know that they can opt in the LCDS or REDD+ initiative at their own pace or in their own time.
- Regardless what the APA says about the LCDS consultations process, they need to be cognisant of the fact that the consultations were monitored by a credible international organisation approved by the Government of Norway.
- Finally, it is apparent that the APA exposed its ignorance about the application of the free prior and informed consent principle (FPIC) by the LCDS consultations process and the REDD+ initative. The report by the IIED stated “The LCDS has established the principle of FPIC as the standard for Amerindian communities to opt into the forest protection programme. The LCDS to date has made significant efforts to ensure that the requirements of FPIC have been complied with.” This is an indisputable fact.
The basic data on which the LCDS ideas are founded are still to be placed in the public domain
Peter Persaud (`LCDS consultations were monitored by a credible organization approved by Norway’, (SN March 18, 2010) has not appreciated that it is the application of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), not the principle, which is mentioned repeatedly in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples issued in September 2007, and to which Guyana is a signatory. If some one or some group is not sufficiently informed about the nature and implications of an issue, then it cannot be said that FPIC has been applied. Some nine months after the issue of the first draft of the President’s Low Carbon Development Strategy, his Office of Climate Change has still failed to explain exactly what ‘opting into’ or ‘opting out of’ the LCDS means for traditional and commercial activities in privately owned land; that includes titled Amerindian Village Lands.
Secondly, any REDD scheme or project will require attention to the unsettled Amerindian land claims, under both the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and the UN-REDD.
The first and second versions of the LCDS are essentially shopping lists of development projects mainly in the coastal plain, presented without reference to background economic or ecological studies to demonstrate that they are top priority, have greatest potential net social value, or are practicable with Guyana’s climate and soils.
Correspondence in the independent Press has repeatedly drawn attention to the need for the basic data on which the LCDS ideas are founded to be placed in the public domain, in accordance with Article 13 in the National Constitution.
It is entirely unreasonable for Peter Persaud/Office of Climate Change to be angered by the reasonable notes from the recent meeting of the Amerindian Peoples Association that the Government has failed to provide information repeatedly requested. Government should be supplying that information without having to be prodded by the citizens.