No $$ figure yet in Norway forest protection deal – Jagdeo

No deal was reached on a monetary amount that Guyana could potentially receive for a forest deal, agreed to earlier this week between Guyana and Norway.

Jens Stoltenberg
Jens Stoltenberg

President Bharrat Jagdeo told reporters at a press conference yesterday that the project is going to be developed collaboratively and in discussions with Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg in Oslo on Tuesday, no agreement on a figure was reached. The President said that he had a figure in mind, but this he declined to disclose.

Norway has said that it is prepared to provide performance-based, “substantial and sustained” compensation for the progress Guyana makes in limiting emissions from deforestation and further decreasing forest degradation.

Jagdeo said yesterday that Guyana was working on the crucial components to the agreement outlined in a Joint Statement issued after the meeting and to this end; national consultations should be held within two months. He noted that the European country has set aside over US$2.5B to assist countries to preserve the forest and is a crucial player in financing for the forestry sector. He asserted that he hoped that both countries can work together to demonstrate that there is a “workable national scale model that can be replicated in other parts of the world”.

Referring to statements he made while unveiling Guyana’s position on avoided deforestation, the President emphasized that it can only work if there is a national approach. He noted that national consultations are still has to be done and work is currently ongoing on the documents to be presented.

Noting Norway’s pledge of providing performance-based, “substantial and sustained” compensation for the progress Guyana makes in limiting emissions from deforestation and further decreasing forest degradation, Jagdeo said that through the mechanism Guyana can generate significant sums of money. The agreements, said Jagdeo, “represent an opportunity of us having a model that will not only serve our purpose well, that is to preserve the forest and yet have large sums of money to create a new path towards prosperity and addressing the development needs of Guyana” but could become a very important model for other countries and for negotiations leading up to Copenhagen. A new climate agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol is expected to be reached in December in the Danish capital.

He declared that the Norway deal is important because the problems in the past associated with forestry getting into the “Kyoto mechanism”, was that there were no real examples of how that could work but a model is being created here.

Responding to a question on how the critical elements set out in the agreement, such as the creation of low-carbon employment and investment opportunities in Guyana, sustained efforts to avoid deforestation and forest degradation, strengthening open, transparent forest governance, and establishing an international monitoring, reporting, and verification system for Guyana’s forests, can be accomplished, the President asserted that this is being worked on.

Jagdeo said that at the consultations, the issues would be discussed and cited an indigenous village economy as an example. The President pointed out that those communities are very reliant on traditional crops and while access to education, health, water and housing can be improved,  the income level in many of the villages do not change significantly because they live very far from the coast and cannot get their produce to the coast quickly enough. “So the idea is to get some money and create a mechanism where the villages themselves would participate through technical discussions to transform the village economy so that it becomes part subsistence, that they continue growing things that you need to eat but you also have some export potential, crop or an activity that will generate income for the village”, said Jagdeo.

He noted that generation of jobs was key and if that is done, people will rely less on the forest to bring in a source of income.

The president stated too that monitoring and verification is critical noting that when a country says that its forest is being preserved and in exchange, receives large sums of money; it could not suddenly decide to cut down the trees. However, he noted, it does not mean that activities are not going to be allowed in the forest.   “It doesn’t mean we will stop every activity but it has to be very sustainable, following international standards”, he said.

During his trip to Europe, the President participated in a number of activities on climate change and he proclaimed that he was happy that a number of activities are occurring on that front.

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