Guyana: Doing a REDD+ pilot is Norways Interests
Oslo will not use Guyana’s forest gains in its targets – ambassador
US$30 million in forest protection money from Norway is still months away and Oslo will not treat any avoided deforestation or degradation of Guyana’s forest as contributions to its greenhouse gas emissions
This latter position is not likely to change, they said. Head of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, Ambassador Hans Brattskar, and lead negotiator for the Norwegian Climate Delegation, Audun Rosland, also told Stabroek News that it will be several months before Guyana receives any money under the Guyana/Norway forest preservation agreement as independent reviews of actions required by Guyana will have to be done.
Guyana and Norway in November inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreeing that Oslo would pay US$30 million ($6.2 billion) this year and potentially up to a total of US$250 million ($51.7 billion) by 2015 for this country to preserve its forests. Under the partnership, Guyana will accelerate its efforts to limit forest-based greenhouse gas emissions and protect its rainforest as an asset for the world. Norway will provide financial support to Guyana at a level based on this country’s success in limiting emissions. This will enable Guyana to start implementing its Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) at scale.
Since the MOU was signed, several commentators including University of Guyana Professor, Dr Clive Thomas, have questioned whether under the agreement, Norway is purchasing offset rights for its greenhouse gases emissions from this country. This is not so, the Norwegian officials told Stabroek News. The position is unlikely to change, they said in an email, responding to queries from this newspaper.
Norway is cooperating with Guyana to provide a working example of how a REDD+ mechanism may work in practice, they pointed out. The officials said for Norway, the main purpose of the cooperation with Guyana, is to gain practical experiences that may give positive inputs to the negotiations on a future REDD+ regime under the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). “The agreement between our countries does not prejudge the outcome of these negotiations, and our cooperation has not been motivated by the possibilities for offsetting against any future emission targets for Norway,” they said.
President Bharrat Jagdeo had said in January that Guyana hoped to conclude discussions with the World Bank and Norway last month to receive an initial US$30 million through the MOU. “We have complied with all of the conditions for last year. The only outstanding thing now is the settlement of the trust fund mechanism through which the money will flow to Guyana,” he had said. The fund, the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund, which aims to be a multi-donor financial mechanism managed by a reputable international organization, is to be operational before any contributions can be disbursed from Norway.
Additionally, under the agreement, before any money is disbursed, Guyana is required to take formal steps to establish independent forest monitoring by a credible, independent entity. Guyana also has to show evidence of entering a formal dialogue with the European Union with the intent of joining its Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) processes towards a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA). In addition, government has to show evidence of its decision to enter a formal dialogue with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) or an alternative mechanism agreed by Guyana and Norway to further the same aim as EITI. The government was also required to prepare an outline of Guyana’s REDD-plus governance development plan by the end of last year; and no later than October 2010, a more detailed plan setting out clear requirements and timelines for its implementation, is required to be developed.
Questioned on the progress made, the officials said that Norway aims for the independent review of these enabling activities to be conducted within the next few months. “This independent report will review Guyana’s work on these activities, and thus indicate whether Guyana is eligible to the first disbursement,” they said confirming that the US$30 million has not yet been released.
Continuous multi-stakeholder consultations are paramount in the agreement and the Norwegian officials have noticed the furore erupting recently over the scope of government’s consultations on the forest preservation strategies.
“I understand there is an active debate regarding REDD+, the LCDS and climate change in the printed press in Guyana, and I can assure you that Norway is making all efforts to ensure that our cooperation is successful,” Brattskar said. Recently a team from Norway was on these shores and met with several stakeholders.