Guyana in forest carbon first

Fourteen developing countries, including Guyana, have been selected as the first states to receive money for combating tropical deforestation and climate change from an initial US$82M partnership between those countries and nine industrialized states, according to a press release from the World Bank.

The countries to benefit are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Guyana, Mexico, Panama, Nepal, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Vietnam. They will receive initial funding from the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), an innovative approach to financing efforts to combat climate change. The FCPF aims to reduce deforestation and forest degradation by compensating developing countries for greenhouse gas emission reductions.

The release, which was issued on Monday, noted that the partnership, approved by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors on September 25, 2007, became functionally operational on June 25 this year.

The 14 tropical and sub-tropical countries will receive grant support as they build their capacity to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) and tap into future systems of positive incentives for REDD.

This development as it relates to Guyana was welcomed by Conservation International (CI), a non-governmental organization that provides advice and support to the Guyana government. Executive Director of CI, Dr. David Singh told Stabroek News in an invited comment that the organization was very, very pleased with the partnership. “It is a very important step in Guyana’s overall initiative to value its forest for the services it provides globally”, he said. He noted that with this development, Guyana has been recognized for the role it plays in keeping its forest intact.

The decision about which countries will receive initial funding came at a two-day meeting in Paris of the FCPF Steering Committee. The statement noted that the committee was made up of an equal number of developing and industrialized countries, plus observers from international organizations, non-governmental institutions, and forest-dependent indigenous peoples and other forest dwellers. The committee was assisted in its decision by an independent Technical Advisory Panel comprised of experts in different technical fields and different regions of the world.

The nine industrialized countries that formalized their participation in the partnership were also present at the Paris meeting. They include Australia, Finland, France (the French Development Agency), Japan, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. “Together, they have committed to contribute about US$82 million to the FCPF. More contributions from the public and private sector are expected in the coming months”, the statement said.

The release quoted Manager of the World Bank’s Carbon Finance Unit, Joelle Chassard as stating that “Deforestation and forest degradation together are the second leading man-made cause of global warming.

They are responsible for about 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and the main source of national emissions in many developing countries.

For that reason, we have been eager to initiate this partnership and assist countries while building a body of knowledge on how best to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by protecting forests and helping the people who benefit from them.”

Representing the first donor to the facility, Australia, Robin Davies, Assistant Director-General, Sustainable Development Group, AusAID said that the FCPF is an important mechanism for giving effect to what was agreed at the Bali climate change meeting in 2007. He asserted that donors and developing countries should work together on approaches to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

“The selection of this initial group of developing country partners is an important first step in improving global understanding of ways to reduce forest carbon emissions and lift forest-dependent communities out of poverty”, he stated.

The statement stressed that the grant money being provided to the first 14 developing countries in the FCPF will help them to prepare for future systems of positive incentives for REDD, in particular by establishing emissions reference levels, adopting REDD strategies, and designing monitoring systems. It added that developing countries have expressed a strong interest in participating in the FCPF and it is expected that more countries will receive support in the coming months.

At their meeting last December in Bali, the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change agreed to start demonstration activities on REDD. The FCPF, which was announced by the World Bank at the Bali Conference, will help to finance some of these demonstration activities, the statement said.

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