Jagdeo ups money plea
President Bharrat Jagdeo on Monday implored donors not to “obsess” with capacity building before releasing funds as this would hinder development efforts.
He made the appeal, as he again signalled his displeasure that donors are slow to release money for forest protection efforts. “You have a duty to ensure that endless discussions don’t slow this down”, he told representatives of countries participating in the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) at a reception for them at the Princess Hotel on Monday evening.
The Sixth Meeting of the Participants Committee of the FCPF opened here on Monday and earlier, Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud highlighted government’s concerns about process, questioning whether other countries face the same level of scrutiny as Guyana. Guyana is participating in the FCPF, a World Bank fund to pay for protecting forests. The FCPF assists developing countries in their efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) by providing value to standing forests.
Jagdeo said that sometimes there is a huge obsession about capacity building with donors giving countries small sums of money with the expectation that the recipients will build capacity and prepare to receive larger sums later.
“We can’t wait on that. We need to import the best capacity now from international sources and move parallel. We need the funding now to create the alternatives now. We need the capacity building now but not by a slow, long term process of building national capacity. That will come in time”, he said.
He referred to the Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) system that Guyana is putting in place to oversee its forests, pointing out that it is going out to tender for someone to provide this service. “I will find 15 young Guyanese, bright ones and attach them to the people who are doing the system so over two to three years they would have the capacity”, he said. Last year, Jagdeo had said that he has no fear about the local capacity to do monitoring from the start. “If you wait and say we need to build the national capacity before we put an MRV system in place then nothing will happen”, the President warned on Monday. “We may find oil and gas next year. I’m not building any capacity for it. Now, people may think this is shortsighted. I’m not training any engineers etc but for five years or ten years after that I will, if we find oil and gas, we will buy the best international capacity available and then we will train our people to take over”, he said. In appealing for donors to make money more readily available for forest protection efforts, Jagdeo said politicians in countries like Guyana, too expend political capital. “…in a poor country I am saying to my people, you have to forego an opportunity cutting trees which other countries have done to get to their prosperity, on the promise of some money coming in the future to help you with alternatives. And I have to do that in good faith. And when that good faith is not replicated or reciprocated then countries like ours, politicians too, they are hung out to dry”, he explained. “If you want to be helpful, you have to understand this reality and speed up some of the processes”.
The president acknowledged that sometimes they cannot have everything perfectly done. He pointed out that Guyana has involved indigenous people’s organisations “more than most” and he has set aside US$8M of the US$30M expected this year under a forest protection agreement with Norway, for indigenous communities.
“But sometimes one or two organisations can delay an entire country moving forward and sometime we fall in the trap of basing or judging countries based on fringes. You have to look at the mainstream. Not everyone in this country will accept everything we do. Not every indigenous people organization will accept the model but if I have all the elected heads of the indigenous communities agreeing, that’s good ground for me to move forward because I have to tackle issues of education and health care, creating alternatives in their communities and fixing land issues”, he said.
Several leaders have expressed concern about the consultations done on Guyana’s Low Carbon Development (LCDS) and Jagdeo had told two communities that they will not receive any money through the LCDS though he later told Stabroek News in an interview that that position had changed.
“We can’t get no perfect agreement. If you’re waiting for perfect agreement to lend support, then you’re gonna have sloth and right now what we need is not sloth but urgency”, he said on Monday. “The world badly needs some bold action on climate change and only the forestry sector can provide this now”, he said.
He expressed hope that they can work together saying it requires real partnership and sometimes “breaking out the box, changing the old thinking”. The President spoke of Guyana’s efforts in combating climate change saying that within three years, the country will have a hydropower plant, which will replace the entire energy supply from fossil fuels. He said there is a plan to give each of the 10,000 indigenous households, a solar panel within two years.
He acknowledged that there are concerns about accountability but Guyana is working with the World Bank on a suitable mechanism where both the donors and recipients are satisfied.
Donors in the FCPF include France, Australia, Finland, Japan, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany and Norway. REDD country participants at the meeting include Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guyana, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal, Panama, Peru, Republic of Congo, Suriname, Tanzania, and Papua New Guinea. Other countries and organisations are also