By Latoya Giles
Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr. Roger Luncheon has said that there needs to be a comprehensive review
and examination of the Guyana/Norway Forest Agreement. According to Luncheon, this would be the best way of defining how well Guyana has performed, particularly in reference to its obligations.
Luncheon, at his weekly press briefing, said that full realization of the promise behind the REDD + financing continues to elude developing countries.
According to Luncheon, the government of Guyana is fully aware of the Norwegian approach. Luncheon told the media that the approach emphasizes continuous evaluation of Norway’s effort that is captured in its international climate and forest initiative. He explained that the initiative for all intents and purposes is under continuous review and there is reporting to the Norwegian Government.
Luncheon said that the subject which concerns the Guyana government is the subset of programmes with the bilateral partnership, three of which are in existence with Norway, including the one with Guyana. He said that it underpins the Low Carbon Development Strategy and its agreements. Further, Luncheon said that the evaluation of bilateral programmes has been taking place over the life of the Norway Climate and International Forest Initiative.
“It clearly addresses the results-based payments system for environmental services,” Luncheon told the media. He maintained that Guyana has been collaborating with agencies such as the Guyana Forestry Commission, and Office of Climate Change among others, with international counterparts. The results of that collaboration, he said, are instructive.
Luncheon said that as part of several measures undertaken by Guyana, government has not issued any new leases in forestry, in order to maintain a certain range in its deforestation rate.
He noted that so far “the monitoring, reporting and verification story is a success”. He said that Government is expected shortly to be advised on the payments made to Guyana, since they have completed all the requirements for the fourth payment.
“Again we anticipate further successes arising from the payments we would be receiving.”
Luncheon said that even though government is anticipating further success, the partnership with Norway should not be considered as all “hunky dory, everything going nice” since that would be an overestimation.
According to Luncheon, there are some areas that government is on record as raising with Norway, in the context of an extension of the partnership beyond 2015.
He said that the extension would bring to an end the first phase. He noted that they have concerns on the need for reform addressing the extension and smoother more predictable and faster financing under this activity.
The second concern, he said, is dealing with the impact of sustainable mining on Guyana reference levels.
In its August 2014, report, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) noted that the increase in deforestation has been mainly due to gold mining. As a result, REDD+ payments from Norway were reduced by approximately US$20 million for 2012. The report said that this indicates the fragility of Guyana’s low deforestation rate, and the lack of resilience to the drivers of deforestation. It also raises the question whether there should be reduction or mitigation projects/activities directly relating to (gold) mining added to the Low Carbon Development Strategy.
The creation of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, with overarching responsibility for mining and forest/environmental protection, was noted, and it was said that questions have been raised about a possible conflict between these opposing remits for the new, relatively inexperienced ministry.
The report stated that several stakeholders have identified actions that could reduce the deforestation impact of mining without limiting mining activities to any significant extent. These include undertaking a national survey of gold deposits so that concessions are only granted for economically viable mines – and land is not cleared unnecessarily for non-viable mines – as well as improved technology should be introduced to increase the extraction rate from existing mines. This would address the practice of returning to mined land which restricts land reclamation, the agency noted.
Systems are in place for measuring forest protection but insufficient action has been taken to reduce the mining operations that are the main cause of deforestation, the Norwegian government agency through which funds are channeled to pay Guyana for protecting its forests, has said.
NORAD in its latest report released on Monday, confirmed that Guyana will lose US$20 million as a result of increased deforestation in Year 3 (2012) of the Guyana-Norway forest protection partnership. NORAD is a directorate under the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and since 2010, it has been monitoring Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) the programme under which Guyana is paid to protect its forest.
Guyana and Norway in 2009 inked a REDD+ partnership under which Oslo will pay for Guyana’s performance on limiting greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and for progress made against governance-related indicators. REDD+ is a global initiative that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Norway’s payments to Guyana may amount to approximately US$250 million over the period to 2015, depending on Guyana’s performance.
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