– Norwegian minister
Amidst intense criticism and speculation that Guyana’s forests are being exploited, Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon was pleased to reveal yesterday that following an engagement with a delegation from the Kingdom of Norway, one of the Scandinavian ministers asserted, “Guyana continues to safeguard its forests.”
Dr. Luncheon disclosed this to members of the media during a press conference which was held at Office of the President.
The Cabinet Secretary said that the nation has seen the ongoing development of what has been a significant feature of the legacy of the former President, Bharrat Jagdeo’s term in office. Dr. Luncheon stated that the payments Guyana has received for its environmental services under the Guyana-Norway agreement, has contributed to the country’s economy.
“A delegation recently visited and flowing from that visit was an appreciation of Guyana’s satisfaction with the Norwegian agreement. I think the statement that fundamentally crystallized what drove the process was the assertion by the Norwegian minister ‘…that Guyana continues to safeguard its forests’ and that is a pledge that is inherent in that Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) agreement that the government would continue to support and engage on,” the Cabinet Secretary asserted.
He said too that the post-2015 LCDS engagement with the Norwegians is a matter that enjoys strong support by the current administration. Dr. Luncheon said too that Guyana has benefitted from the agreement in terms of a boost to the economy. Of the US$250M that Guyana is expected to receive for its environmental services it has, to date, received US$150M.
He said that government’s expectations are that the remaining monies would be obtained over the fifth and sixth cycle payments.
Significant as well, Dr. Luncheon said, is that the visit by the delegation has even seen some crystallization of the process that the administration has undertaken to keep alive the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project.
He said that work is being done with the Norwegians and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to facilitate the US$80M for the construction of the hydro power facility.
“The administration’s thoughts are indeed optimistic about the future,” the Cabinet Secretary added.
Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud had told the media that recent reports of Guyana’s low rate of deforestation can certainly be attributed to effective governance.
Guyana is expected to be paid US$35M under the forest protection agreement. This was after a minor increase in the deforestation and forest degradation rate in 2012 was confirmed. This follows three previous payments that have been made under the agreement. In 2009, US$30M was earned; in 2010, US$40M was received and 2011, US$45M was collected, which will give a total of US$150M.
Performance under the Guyana-Norway agreement is measured largely on the basis of preservation of forest, along with a low deforestation rate. Persaud had indicated to the media that the rate of deforestation for Guyana over the past 23 years has remained fairly stable, between the range of 0.02% and 0.08%, and stands to compare positively with the global average deforestation rate which is recorded at 0.52%.
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