Dec 09, 2008 News
A team of experts from Guyana and an international consultancy firm have been working together to conduct a rigorous, fact based assessment of how to align rainforest countries’ long-term economic interests with those of the wider world.
This is according to President Bharrat Jagdeo, who late last week presented Guyana’s position on deforestation in a report called ‘Creating Incentives to Avoid Deforestation.’ The Head of State announced that Guyana will be hosting national consultations on its standing rainforests.
The aim of the consultation, he said, is to ensure the involvement of Guyanese stakeholders in determining the allocation of resources secured under any future Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation mechanism, or interim arrangement. President Jagdeo said that since August assessment began.
He added that the assessment being conducted uses Guyana as a case-study for what it would take to make tropical forests worth more alive than dead.
“We started examining what long-term solutions will enable future governments to deal with the difficult trade-offs between national development and avoiding deforestation.”
President Jagdeo added that if trees are worth more dead than alive, economically rational decision makers in countries with rainforests will find it hard to resist harvesting timber and converting the land to other productive uses, for example, to meet global demand for agricultural products.
“Nobody should interpret this as Guyana threatening the world by suggesting that we will deliberately destroy our forest. Guyana has one of the lowest deforestation rates in the world, and we want this to continue.”
In common with other rainforest countries, the President said, Guyana faces huge developmental challenges.
“We need to train our teachers and hospital staff; we need to build schools, hospitals and roads; and we need to create economic opportunities and generate jobs for our citizens.”
Developing Guyana’s economy to provide resources to fund these and many other social and economic needs has to be a responsible Government’s top priority.
“If we are to reconcile this with the world’s need for forests to be kept intact, we must find a way to make national development and sustainable use of our forests complementary, not competing, objectives.”
The analysis over the past several months has focused on three areas, namely: how Guyana can assist the international community forge a post-Kyoto climate agreement that creates incentives to rapidly slow tropical deforestation; developing rigorous business cases for low carbon investment and employment opportunities in the country; and addressing the other side of climate change – the need to invest heavily in infrastructure to protect people and productive land from rising sea levels and changing weather patterns.
The work undertaken in each of these areas, he said, will provide the foundation for next year’s national consultation.
The report, ‘Creating Incentives to Avoid Deforestation,’ will be presented on Thursday by President Jagdeo to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in Poland.
“We hope that this report will bring fresh thinking to many of the issues which have bedevilled the forest issue internationally.”
It has long been recognised, he said, that proposals to ‘simply slow down’ deforestation in countries where it is already taking place, through the use of historical baselines, do not take into account the true economic pressures on the forests, and will not help countries with low historic rates of deforestation.
The Head of State pointed out that Guyana needs to protect its forests in a way that does not just rely on the national desire to help the world.
“In the future, we need to recognise the economic value of forests to the world, and create market-based mechanisms which out-compete the activities that currently drive economic value to the nation.”
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