REDD in Guyana
The management of issues relating to climate change in Guyana is conducted by the Office of Climate Change (OCC) housed within the Office of the President. The OCC has been established to work across Government to support work on climate adaptation, mitigation and REDD+. It serves to bring together and align efforts that are already underway and to co-ordinate efforts by multilateral and non-governmental organisations assisting Guyana’s climate change agenda. The OCC is the entity with overall coordinating responsibility for ongoing national consultations on Guyana’s Low-Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and related stakeholder engagement processes, working closely with the REDD Secretariat which was established under the Guyana Forestry Commission.
The Guyana Forestry Commission has been designated as the agency responsible for the implementation of key technical aspects of REDD+ - including the development of the national Monitoring, Reporting and Verification System (MRVS), as well as implementation of the R-PP . The REDD+ Secretariat was set up as the operational unit to conduct these activities. This Secretariat is being strengthened through funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and through the institutional funding project funded through the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF). As part of the implementation of the R-PP a National REDD+ Working Group will be established upon receipt of FCPF funds with membership from governmental agencies, civil society and the private sector.
The twin development of REDD+ through the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and its related institutions and the efforts under the FCPF and the R-PP has raised issues. In a verification report of progress of the LCDS the Rainforest Alliance highlighted a lack of clarity ‘on the relationship between the REDD+ efforts and the LCDS’ (Donovan et al 2010 p22). Guyana, however, sees the R-PP as a discrete mechanism of the LCDS, which is an overall strategy.
Stakeholder engagement and participation
In the development of its Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and its related activities Guyana has committed itself to full stakeholder engagement and participation, and in particular, has claimed that all activities will be in keeping with the principle of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). The development of the LCDS has led to the establishment of the Low Carbon Development Strategy Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee (MSSC) which includes members of Government agencies, civil society, youth representatives, indigenous representation, both national and international NGOs, and the private sector. National stakeholder awareness and engagements took place following the development of the first draft of the LCDS, with meetings taking place in all 10 regions of Guyana. The MSSC oversaw this process. The initial stakeholder process has been independently assessed by monitors from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), who highlighted the significant headway made in stakeholder engagement in this area, but underlined that there were still certain limitations and recommended improvements to the process (Dow et al 2009). The report concluded that the process had ‘opened a new space for multi-stakeholder involvement’ but moving forward the process needed support from all state and non-state actors. A report by the Rainforest Alliance in 2012 (Rainforest Alliance 2012) verifying the progress of the Guyana-Norway agreement found that there has also been a noticeable reduction in the efforts by the Government of Guyana (GoG) to communicate and consult with stakeholders. It should be noted that subsequent to the report there has been a redoubling of consultative efforts.
Feedback from stakeholder meetings led to a revised second draft, which has been followed by two subsequent drafts. The current version is that of March 2013. As a commitment to Free, Prior and Informed Consent Guyana will create an ‘Opt-In’ mechanism for titled Amerindian communities to choose whether to participate or not in the national-level REDD mechanism. In September 2013 the mechanism is still in the design phase with a draft concept paper released in 2010 (Government of Guyana 2010).
Guyana’s R-PP was developed in consultation with government agencies and with the support of a number of NGOs such as Conservation International – Guyana. It involved a series of awareness workshops with Amerindian communities, forest users and the general public. As part of the R-PP process the government plans to establish a National REDD+ Working Group that will include government members, representatives from NGOs and the private sector.
The concept of Free Prior and Informed Consent has been clearly applied to Amerindian communities. In an assessment of the progress of enabling activities a ‘number of individuals indicated that FPIC should clearly not just apply to Amerindian communities, but to all communities’ (Donovan et al 2010 p26). The Rainforest Alliance (2012) found that FPIC has been lacking in the REDD/LCDS process, particularly with respect to territorial rights and the REDD+ opt-in process that will soon be available to forest-dependent Amerindian communities.
Land tenure arrangements and carbon rights
Guyana recognises two main types of land tenure, public property through the State Forest Estate and State Lands, comprising 83% of land area and 84% of forested area, and private property including the communally owned land of 96 titled Amerindian communities. On public lands Guyana grants three levels of logging concessions, and three different types of mining claims, in addition to State land leases for agricultural and other activities. These concessions give some rights to concessionaires regarding access and use of the forest. The government has committed itself to retaining these concessions under the LCDS, but with a renewed focus on enforcement of regulations, third party verification and independent forest monitoring (Government of Guyana 2013).
Under the LCDS a plan has been laid out for the tilting, demarcation and extension of Amerindian Lands to address issues regarding untitled Amerindian communities and their participation in the REDD+ mechanism. Despite this, it has been noted that the Government of Guyana should ‘recognize that the absence of discussion on the constraints or challenges faced on rights-related efforts […] has created uncertainty’ (Donovan et al 2010 p5).
Guyana is developing a mechanism that will allow Amerindian communities to opt their communally owned lands into the REDD+ mechanism, receiving payments in line with the size of the forest opted in and the reduction in deforestation.
The majority of forested areas in Guyana falls within the state-owned State Forest Estate. This area is managed by the Guyana Forestry Commission who has responsibility for overseeing all forestry concessions from the initial granting to monitoring and enforcement. 14% of Guyana’s forests fall within Amerindian Villages which are managed by each individual Village Council.
The LCDS aims to strengthen compliance with existing environmental regulations. Under the Mining Act, for example, there is a commitment to reclaim land; a process that has historically not been strong within Guyana’s mining industry. Enhanced enforcement of such regulations has been identified as one possible activity under a REDD Strategy to be developed under Guyana’s R-PP (R-PP 2012).
Incentives under the LCDS include the creation of employment opportunities in non-traditional sectors, and the provision of improved infrastructure including electricity supply through the Amaila Falls Hydropower Facility.
The LCDS also proposes to provide financial payments to forest communities under an Opt In mechanism to be created. Particular reference has been made for the compensation of displaced forest workers, including miners. However, the LCDS makes explicit reference to the fact that there is no intention to share REDD+ payments with large concessionaires who will be allowed to continue operations albeit under tighter regulation.
Guyana is currently in Phase 2 of negotiations for a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) under the European Union’s (EU) Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan, with negotiations beginning in May 2012. The commitment of Guyana to sign up to the FLEGT process is enshrined in the latest version of the Joint Concept Note (JCN) regarding the MOU with Norway. A Roadmap issued in January 2013 schedules Guyana to move toward implementation by the end of 2015.
Guyana is currently using an interim national reference level under the framework of its Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Norway. Under the MOU Guyana will use the Combined Incentives reference level using a combination of the average deforestation rate for Guyana between 2000 and 2009 and the average deforestation rate for developing countries between 2005 and 2009. In the absence of clear data for these two numbers the reference level was set at 0.45% as an average of 0.3% for Guyana’s historical reference level, and 0.6% for the global average.
In early 2011 new data became available and Guyana’s 2000-2009 annual average deforestation rate was revised to 0.03%, and the global deforestation rate to 0.52%, giving an amended reference level of 0.275%. This reference level will be further revised if and when a methodology is agreed under the REDD+ mechanism within the UNFCCC. The reference level of 0.275% is intended to be used to determine payments under the MOU with Norway, but should the annual deforestation rate exceed the rate for 2010 of 0.056% Guyana will receive a reduced payment, with the reduction in payment increasing up to 100% at a level of 0.1%, above which Guyana will receive no payments.
The only exception is any deforestation that arises as a result of the construction of the Amaila Falls Hydropower Facility, a project that is proposed to be part-funded from the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) and a crucial lynch-pin in the LCDS. This is because the deforestation that is predicted to result from the project would cause the annual deforestation rate to exceed the established reference levels. In addition to the reference levels the Joint Concept Note (JCN) relating to the MOU establishes a carbon proxy loss of 100tC/ha from deforestation, to be revised as more information arises from the establishment of Guyana’s Monitoring, Reporting and Verification System (MRVS).
Historically Guyana’s capacity to Monitor, Report and Verify (MRV) emissions from deforestation and forest degradation has been very low, with only approximate estimates of historic deforestation rates available for the country as a whole. One of the key readiness activities under Guyana’s REDD+ initiative is performance measurement and reporting under a national Monitoring, Reporting and Verification System (MRVS). It is being developed using a capacity building roadmap approach using a phased approach. The framework for the development of this system has been laid-down in Guyana’s MRVS Roadmap. A MRVS Steering Committee was convened to oversee the development and implementation of Guyana’s MRVS. Two aspects, among a number of other areas, of the MRVS have commenced: forest area change assessment and assessment of the carbon stock of Guyana’s forests. In 2013 Guyana will pilot the operationalising of its MRVS, conducting full reporting on emissions and removals as guided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
In addition to the development of a national level MRVS, work is being undertaken in developing Community MRV within Guyana. A collaborative project between the Global Canopy Programme (GCP) and the Government of Guyana at Annai is training forest-dependent communities to monitor their environment.
A number of different institutions are responsible for the establishment of safeguards relating to REDD+ in Guyana. Under the LCDS the World Bank, as the Trustee of the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF), will apply its fiduciary safeguards. Under the terms of the administrative agreement establishing the GRIF, the GRIF Steering Committee is responsible for establishing fiduciary, safeguard and operational standards for partner entities other than the World Bank, the IDB or the UN. In the Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) the Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA) will support the drafting and finalising of the required safeguards for readiness related activities/strategies identified in the R-PP.
Projects funded by the GRIF will follow the environmental and social safeguards of the partner entities chosen to help implement these projects. As it stands these partner entities are nominated as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the World Bank. Additional partner entities may be added if the GRIF Steering Committee deems it necessary and if the entities meet the standards established by the committee. This process will remain in place until the process of establishing safeguards is determined under the UNFCCC.
The Environmental Protection Act provides for the management, conservation, protection and improvement of the environment , the prevention, control of pollution, the assessment of the impact of economic development on the environment and the sustainable use of natural resources. It outlines the process for conducting Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for projects. How this process will relate to any future sub-national REDD+ project is still to be determined.
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