The Guyana-Norway climate and forest partnership continues to make progress. In 2010-2011, Guyana kept deforestation and forest degradation at exceptionally low levels. Based on this result, combined with improvements in forest governance in 2010-2012 and Guyana's commitment to further improvements in 2013, Norway today announces that it will contribute 45 million USD to the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF).
Guyana had in the period from October 1st 2010 to December 31st 2011 a verified deforestation rate of 0.054%. The deforestation and forest degradation results are reported by the Government of Guyana in Guyana REDD+ MRVS Interim Measures Report and verified by Det Norske Veritas. Under the methodology of the Guyana-Norway Joint concept note, these results entitles Guyana to a maximum payout of around US$ 74 million in payment for emissions reductions, of which Norway will contribute 45 million.
"Guyana has been successful in keeping the deforestation rate at exceptionally low levels, and was one of the first countries anywhere in the world to set out a vision for a low carbon economy which will reduce future pressure on Guyana's forest. Guyana provides a valuable carbon storage service to the world, and can be a model to other countries with high forest cover and low deforestation rates," says Norwegian Minister of the Environment Bård Vegar Solhjell. "Guyana has also been successful in developing its system and methodology for forest monitoring and carbon measurement, providing valuable lessons for the UN climate change negotiations."
Guyana has also reported on progress on the indicators of enabling activities related to sustainable forest management in the period from October 1st 2010 to June 30th 2012. These results have been verified by Rainforest Alliance (RA).The RA states that substantial progress has been made on some indicators, while on others progress has been less than expected. The RA verification report identifies the absence of resources flowing from the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) as one important reason for the lack of progress on several indicators.
The Governments of Guyana and Norway have recognized the potential for improvements in the areas identified in the verification report. In the period from July 1st 2012 to December 22nd, the Government of Guyana has taken a number of actions to strengthen and further develop the enabling indicators as the list of immediate actions and revised JCN shows.
Despite the challenges with the finance mechanism, funding from the GRIF is now flowing into key climate change and poverty alleviation investments in Guyana. In addition, joint efforts are underway to make the financial mechanism of the partnership more fit for purposes, enable it to ensure both strong fiduciary, social and environmental safeguards, and greater influence over and ownership of priorities by the Government of Guyana, within the framework of its Low Carbon Development Strategy.
The President of Guyana, His Excellency Donald Ramotar, said: "Three years ago, the people of Guyana committed to one of the world's most ambitious low carbon development strategies. 2013 will be a pivotal year, where we move into a period of intensification of the investments that will improve the welfare of our people - at the same time as proving that development can follow a non-polluting path. We are maintaining 99.5% of our forest and cutting our energy-related emissions by 92% - that is more than any country in Europe. Norway's far-reaching vision on REDD+ is helping us to do this, and I am very pleased that our partnership is showing the world that progress is possible in maintaining forests as one of the world's most important assets."
The Governments of Guyana and Norway have also agreed on significant milestones to be reached already in the next six months in order to secure the continued progress and improved governance in the forestry sector, as part of an updated Joint Concept Note.
"Norway puts great emphasis on forest governance reforms in our partnership," says minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås. "Guyana has delivered substantial progress, but still much remains to be done. The Government of Guyana's commitment to sustained reform in the years ahead is something I strongly support."
Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) projects to be financed through the GRIF are in 2013 planned to help strengthen important governmental institutions, implement community development plans in Amerindian communities, fund micro and small enterprises, improve infrastructure and accelerate titling of Amerindian lands. Not least, the Inter American Development Bank expects to bring the Amaila Falls Hydroelectric Power Project to its Board, and thereafter – together with Guyana – to the GRIF Steering Committee, in 2013. This project is the flagship of the LCDS. When finalized, it will provide Guyana with cheap, stable energy and is indented to reduce Guyana's energy based CO2 emissions by as much as 92 per cent.
In welcoming the third contribution, Guyana's Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud said: 'Too many people still say that it is not possible for developing countries to lead the way to solutions to big global problems like climate change. But in Guyana, we are showing that it is possible to lead, and to combine sustainably managed traditional economic sectors with strong environmental stewardship. We are creating unprecented levels of new jobs and wealth, and we are showing the world that it is possible to do this without destroying our extremely valuable forests."
The Governments of Guyana and Norway are looking forward to continued progress in a partnership that is internationally unique in its attempt to ensure national, sustainable protection of forests and at the same time stimulate green economic growth and development. To set a transparent, progressive course forward, the governments have updated the Joint Concept Note to include the 2015 goals of the partnership as well as agreed indicators from December 22nd 2012 to June 30th 2013.