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SN coverage of Guyana-Norway forest partnership did not fully reflect written responses to reporter’s questions

External Reference/Copyright
Issue date: 
August 6, 2010
Publisher Name: 
Stabroek News
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Dear Editor,

Your coverage of my comments on the Guyanese-Norwegian climate and forest partnership did not, unfortunately, fully reflect my written responses to your journalists’ questions (‘Independent REDD+ review to be done in next few months…’ Sunday Stabroek, August 01). First, my response was explicit that the first Norwegian contribution into the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund will be made as soon as that fund is operational, ie, very soon. Your newspaper’s claim that significant delays in that payment could be derived from my written response to your questions, is incorrect. We highly value our climate and forest partnership with the Government of Guyana. We will stand by our commitments.

Second, there was little in my response that you could not have found in the founding documents of the Guyanese-Norwegian Climate and Forest Partnership, the Memorandum of Understanding and Joint Concept Note. (Both documents can be found both at our home page and that of the Government of Guyana.) Those documents, moreover, do not contain ‘conditions’ imposed on Guyana by Norway. Rather, they result from a year-long bilateral dialogue, where both parties views’ and concerns were incorporated. The Partnership is not based on one country telling the other what to do; on safeguards, for example, both parties are not only fully committed to internationally recognized safeguards, the Partnership is actually working on their implementation. More generally, the Partnership is based on a shared vision of what is needed to address climate change globally. This includes clear commitments for both parties, Norway and Guyana.

Third, the nature of this relationship is a fundamentally equitable and reciprocal one. The Government of Guyana is providing an environmental service to the world for which the Government of Norway is willing to pay. The transaction is that of a business relationship. Over time, a formal climate financing regime under the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change should ensure global rules for these transactions.

President Jagdeo is an active and valued participant in the High Level Advisory Group on climate finance – of which our Prime Minister is one of the co-chairs – and together our two countries are working hard to establish such an international climate finance regime. Beyond its independent value, the Partnership between Guyana and Norway is of paramount importance as an illustration of how an international regime on climate and forests could be structured. It yields tremendous opportunities for learning valuable lessons and creating win-win opportunities.

The situation in Guyana is unique in that climate and forest issues are a general public concern that receive wide media coverage. The Guyanese population is unusually well informed on these issues. It is thus even more important for me to ensure that there are no misunderstandings regarding the Norwegian position.

Yours faithfully,
Hans Brattskar

The Government of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative

Editor’s note

We do not concur with the view expressed by Ambassador Brattskar that his answers to our reporter’s questions were misrepresented in the story carried last Sunday. He states above that we had claimed “significant delays” in payments to the fund “could be derived from [his] written response to [our] questions”; however, what was actually said in the report was as follows:

“The independent review of the REDD+ enabling activities required before any money is disbursed to this country under the Guyana-Norway forest protection agreement will be done within the next few months, Director of Norway’s Climate and Forest Initiative, Ambassador Hans Brattskar says.

“His statement signals that it could be some time yet before Guyana receives the money budgeted for this year from Norway… The tender for the independent review is out.”

As can be seen there is no suggestion of “significant delays” in the SN story, and the vague temporal formulation of “some time yet” is surely justified, given that the independent review which must be completed before disbursement of the money can begin has not yet commenced.

For the benefit of readers we reproduce below in full, our questions to Ambassador Brattskar together with his written responses.

Q: “1)      Has the independent review of the enabling activities required under the Guyana-Norway agreement for Guyana to receive the first monetary disbursement been completed?

A: “The independent review of the enabling activities will be done within the next few months. Guyana may receive up to 30 million USD this year for enabling activities and other activities identified in the LCDS, based on the following conditions:

- that a satisfactory project portfolio is in place

- that the projects are most likely to be implemented within a year

- that the activities fulfill the requirement to be reported to OECD/DAC as development cooperation

- that the projects are implemented in cooperation between Guyana and a multilateral institution

“These conditions are for the start up phase only and will not be sufficient for any prospected monetary disbursement in 2011. The monetary disbursement in 2010 is to be considered as an exception, with the aim of supporting enabling activities and to start the implementation of the LCDS. Any prospective monetary disbursements in 2011 and onwards will be based on a verification process of the entire cooperation up until then, on received results and further documented needs. If the independent review of the enabling activities, to be carried out in 2010, shows any weaknesses, this will have consequences for any monetary disbursements in 2011 and onwards.

Q:  “2) Has Guyana fulfilled all the conditions required?

A: “This will be considered by the independent review, which has not been completed, ref question no 1.

Q: “3) How much money is Guyana likely to receive this year?

A: “Guyana will receive up to 30 mill USD.

Q: “4) Ha[ve] the difficulties with the World Bank regarding the disbursement mechanism been sorted out and how soon is the money going to be released?

A: “The Guyana REDD+ Invest-ment Fund (GRIF) is about to be established.

Q: “5) Which company did the review?

A: “The tender is in process.

Q: “6) Does Norway have any say about where/how the money is going to be utilized and does it have a preference?

A: “The money will be utilized in accordance with Guyana’s preferences within the low-carbon development strategy and in accordance with the safeguards, operational procedures and practices of the organization taking part in implementing the projects.

Q: “7) The Joint Concept Note says that Norwegian financial support from 2011 onwards is also dependent on no national-level increase in deforestation, compared to an agreed level that should be close to historic levels. Mining, one of the biggest revenue-earners in Guyana, contribute[s] in large part to this deforestation. What would this mean for the industry?

A: “Please direct this question to the Government of Guyana.

Q: “8) One of the activities to be covered this year includes the establishment of a system for Independent Forest Monitoring. Has this been completed?

A: “No, the tender is in process.

Q: “9) Is Norway satisfied that there has been full and adequate consultations with the indigenous communities on the Low Carbon Development Strategy?

A: “The independent review will evaluate this.”


Extpub | by Dr. Radut