GEORGETOWN, Guyana (GINA) -- Guyana has been approved to receive an additional US$45 million from the government of Norway for its climate services in maintaining extremely low levels of deforestation while advancing the nation’s landmark Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).
This now brings all three contributions from the Norway-Guyana climate and forest partnership to a total of US$115 million since the program was announced in 2009. Just as importantly, there are now clear signs that the monies are beginning to flow to important climate change and poverty alleviation investments that will improve the overall economy, support Amerindian peoples’ development and land rights while keeping carbon pollution well below the rates of leading developed countries.
Money from the allotted $115 million, which is facilitated through the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF), is now beginning to flow to investments identified in Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy, including the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Project. This project will deliver a steady source of renewable energy that is affordable, reliable and is envisioned to meet Guyana’s domestic energy needs while removing dependency on fossil fuels.
The government of Guyana projects that Amaila will save consumers and businesses approximately $3.5 billion over the next 20 years, while at the same time reducing carbon emissions and creating jobs. The project is being developed in partnership with Sithe Global, an internationally regarded power developer, the Inter-American Development Bank and the China Development Bank. The Amaila project is expected to begin generating power in 2017.
Other important initiatives being funded by the government of Guyana through the GRIF include the Amerindian Land Titling Project, which will allow Amerindians to further secure their lands and natural resources, enabling long-term social and economic sustainable development. The Amerindian Development Fund will enable almost 200 Amerindian villages to advance their Community Development Plans. In 2013, 27 Community Development Plans will start implementation.
In addition, funds for micro- and small-enterprise development are coming on line in order to provide vulnerable groups with access to capital and business support.
Yet another project to receive government funding from the GRIF will be the Cunha Canal Rehabilitation Project, a climate adaptation effort to reduce the risks of the embankment overtopping and flooding of areas along the East Bank of the Demerara. This will help to reduce threats to life and livelihoods from changing weather patterns, such as the floods that occurred in 2005 and caused damage equivalent to 60 percent of Guyana’s economy.
The projects being funded by the government of Guyana based on contributions from Norway join a suite of LCDS investments being funded directly by the government, including the installation of 11,000 solar panels in Amerindian households across the country.
“This latest contribution from our partnership with Norway will help achieve the vision that we laid out through our Low Carbon Development Strategy more than three years ago. Our vision is to create a strong and vibrant low-carbon economy that benefits our people, reduces pressures on our forests and provides valuable climate services to the world,” Donald Ramotar, the president of Guyana, said in a statement.
“With this payment, Guyana can continue on this important path while showing that economic growth is compatible with sustainability. It is not only the people of Guyana who will benefit from this arrangement. It is also the countries around the world who can rest assured that our forests will continue to trap carbon pollution, and that our development won’t come at the high price of deforestation.”
The contribution from Norway to the GRIF is part of an agreement between the two nations, which was announced when former president of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo and former minister of environment of Norway, Erik Solheim signed an agreement in November 2009. The partnership’s progress is governed by terms set out in a Joint Concept Note (JCN).
The JCN seeks to create a replicable model that can lead to a global framework for action on forest climate issues. Under this model, Guyana is paid for delivering results against a set of key carbon and other metrics, which are verified by independent auditors.
For the latest payment, two independent verification audits were conducted by Det Norske Veritas (DNV), which reviewed deforestation rates; and the Rainforest Alliance (RA), which reviewed 10 different “indicators of enabling activities” related to responsible governance of the investment program, along with the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples and communities.
During the period from October 1, 2010 through December 31, 2011, (a period of 15 months), DNV verified that Guyana had a deforestation rate of 0.054 percent – one of the lowest, if not the lowest, in the world.
The RA report found several areas of positive performance, and also pointed out several areas related to the governance of the partnership that should be improved, including the fact that the expected financing was delayed. In part because of the lack of funding, RA stated that progress has been less than expected in some areas. The government of Guyana is pursuing changes that will improve performance in these areas.
When reviewed as a whole, the Guyana-Norway partnership represents the leading edge of efforts to protect forests while also supporting developing countries by offering economically attractive alternatives to deforestation and forest degradation. It is specifically designed to serve as a model for how countries can work together to create low-carbon economic growth while contributing significant value to the health of the global environment.
“This is further confirmation that Guyana’s valuable climate services are recognized internationally as an important contribution to helping prevent carbon pollution that leads to global warming,” Ramotar said. “It is also an important affirmation of our strategy to transition Guyana to a low-carbon economy, and in so doing, demonstrate to the world that small countries can do big things, while improving the livelihoods of our people.”