Guyana met all REDD+ targets in ’09

-first progress report

The first Annual Progress Report on REDD+ enablers under the Guyana-Norway forest protection agreement was recently released and the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment has since invited tenders for the verification of these enabling activities.

The report was posted on the Low Carbon Development Strategy website and documented activities which took place in 2009, with an update up to February 2010. Commencing April 6, it was open for public comments for 14 days ending last Tuesday. To date, Guyana has met all its targets under the agreement and has reached all the benchmarks that should have been met by December 31, 2009, the report states.

“The Ministry of the environment wishes to enter into a contract with a consultancy company to verify the satisfactory execution by Guyana of a set of enabling activities, as described in the Joint Concept Note developed by Guyana and Norway,” said the Notice inviting bids to verify the enabling activities. It said the assignment is an important component in the Guyana-Norway partnership on REDD+. The deadline for submission of offers to verify the actions taken by Guyana was last Monday.

Guyana and Norway had in November inked a Memorandum of Under-standing (MOU), agreeing that Oslo would pay US$30 million ($6.2 billion) this year and potentially up to a total of US$250 million ($51.7 billion) by 2015 for this country to preserve its forests. Under the partnership, Guyana will accelerate its efforts to limit forest-based greenhouse gas emissions and protect its rainforest as an asset for the world. Norway will provide financial support to Guyana at a level based on this country’s success in limiting emissions.

The Guyana-Norway Joint Concept Note (JCN) describes a set of enabling activities which have to be satisfactorily executed in order to initiate results-based financial support from Norway. This verification process will take place for the first time this year and will be conducted annually. In order to enable Norwegian financial support for 2010, the satisfactory execution of the enabling activities, as described in the JCN, has to be verified. One of these enabling activities is for “one or more neutral expert organizations, to be appointed jointly by the Participants in consultation with the international financial institution managing the GRIF, [to verify] whether or not the REDD-plus enablers have been met.”

In the Progress Report, government provided an update on what has been achieved up to the end of 2009, in relation to Guyana’s commitment under the MoU. In addition, the report provides updates on progress in the general areas of the MoU and accompanying JCN. The activities that Guyana agreed to initiate by the end of 2009 were: Preparation of an outline of Guyana’s REDD+ Governance Plan; Com-mencement of work to develop a Monitoring, Reporting and Verification System (MRVS); Establishment of a Project Management Office and an Office of Climate Change; Activation of the Multi-Stakeholder Process; Ensuring that an annual verification by neutral experts that the REDD+ enabling activities are completed; Ensuring that an annual assessment by neutral experts of the maximum amount due to Guyana according to the REDD+ Governance Plan; Establishment of a system for Independent Forest Monitoring (IFM); Engaging with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and European Union Forest Law Enforcement, Gover-nance and Trade body (FLEGT); and Establishment of the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF)

To date, Guyana has met all its targets under the MoU and has reached all the benchmarks that should have been met by December 31, 2009, the report states.

Addressing the Outline of Guyana’s REDD+ Gover-nance Plan, it said that the outline structure of the plan has been guided by the provisions of the JCN and was prepared by a technical team comprising representatives from the Office of Climate Change (OCC), The Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), The Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, and The Ministry of Finance. “The full plan is currently being developed and will be completed by October 2010, with clear requirements and timelines for its implementation, in accordance with the Government’s plans as outlined in the MoU and accompanying JCN,” it says.

On the Monitoring, Reporting and Verification System (MRVS) it revealed that two bids for MRVS technical expertise have been advertised with deadlines of end of February 2010 and end of March 2010, respectively. A total of 52 Expressions of Interest (EOIs) have been received for bid one (Consultancy for Remote Sensing and GIS Consultant) and 15 for bid two (Consultancy for Carbon Stock Assessment and Monitoring). At present, an additional two bids are being reviewed by Norway. The report says that the MRVS Technical Committee and Steering Committee have been established by the GFC and have begun meeting. The overarching responsibility of these two committees is that of reviewing the MRVS dataset and reviewing the bids that are submitted for the consultancies. Additionally, the Technical Committee advises the Steering Committee on all crucial technical issues, including land use, mining regulations and sustainable environmental practices

On the establishment of the Project Management Office (PMO) and Office of Climate Change (OCC), the report pointed out that both these offices have been established and are fully functional within the Office of the President. The PMO has the mandate of driving major low-carbon programme priorities and investments while the OCC has responsibility for coordinating all climate–related activities for Guyana, including the LCDS. The establishment of these two bodies precedes the MoU, the PMO and the OCC are earmarked to receive funding from the financial support provided by Norway, says the report.

Regarding the Multi-stakeholder Consultation Process, the report noted that the Guyana/Norway MoU, inter alia, speaks to enabling the participation of all affected and interested stakeholders at all stages of the REDD+/LCDS process. It said that this started subsequent to the launch of the LCDS through the formation of the Multi- Stakeholder Steering Committee (MSSC), which includes representatives from the Government, Indigenous NGOs, the Private Sector, Labour, Forestry, Mining, Youth and Women organizations, NGO’s, monitors from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and consenting individual professionals. It said that the MSSC, which is chaired by President Bharrat Jagdeo, began weekly meetings on 11 June 2009 and continues to do so at present. The MSSC has overall responsibility for advising on and guiding the LCDS process in particular the stakeholder engagements.

Additionally, the report says that subsequent to the launch of the first draft of the LCDS on June 8, 2009, the MSSC commenced four months and sub-national consultations and a country wide awareness and information dissemination programme. There have been 15 sub-national consultations across the country at which 222 communities were present and approximately 3285 persons attended, it said. It added that the feedback received from these exercises was used to prepare a revised draft LCDS for consultations and this document was placed in the public domain on December 10, 2009. It is significant to note that both the first and revised drafts of the LCDS were laid in and approved by the National Assembly, on August 4, 2009 and December 10, 2009, respectively, the report says.

It also underlined that the IIED, which is the independent monitors of the Process for the Government of Norway, has reported positively in this regard. It stated that, in its final report “The Independent Review of the Stakeholder Consultation Process for Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS),” it found … “that the process of multi-stakeholder consultation surrounding Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy has broadly followed principles derived from international best practice and has met these criteria. It is the opinion of this team that the consultative process, to the extent that its findings inform a revised LCDS, can be considered credible, transparent and inclusive. The government’s commitment to transparency and accountability has been commendable during the preliminary consultation process of the LCDS and it is hoped that the openness and inclusivity with which this first phase is proceeding will be strengthened and continued in the ongoing phases of its development and implementation.”

Regarding the annual verification by neutral experts that the REDD-plus enabling activities are completed, the report pointed out that Norway and Guyana had agreed on two independent assessment studies to be done. The study of forest law enforcement and governance and forests practice in Guyana has been done by Jorge Trevin and Robert Nasi, in association with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) while the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has also supported a report by Consultant Jonas Cedergren on Measurement and reporting of Forest Carbon in Guyana: Preparing for REDD Implementation. Both studies were completed in 2009 and the reports reviewed by a sub-committee of the MSSC and presented to the MSSC for consideration.

Regarding the annual verification by neutral experts of the maximum amount due to Guyana according to the indicators for REDD+ Governance, this report will serve this purpose for 2009. With regard to the establishment of a system for IFM, the report says that this is currently in progress and efforts are being made to examine whether the existing arrangements through FLEGT could apply to avoid duplication. On engaging with the EITI and the FLEGT, the report says that the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) wrote to the EITI in the 4th Quarter 2009 and has received a response regarding Guyana’s joining that body. EITI has forwarded the rules and has advised on the steps to be taken. The Technical Group is currently reviewing these, it says.

With respect to the FLEGT, the GFC has written to that body indicating Guyana’s interest in having its forests stock independently monitored. Further, the government has begun formal dialogue with the European Union with the intent of joining its FLEGT processes towards a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA). The GFC has been identified as the lead agency for FLEGT work and commenced the process with a team of officials from the EU slated to visit Guyana during last month.

With regard to the establishment of the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF), the report noted that following a meeting between Guyana and the World Bank in November 2009 on the establishment of a facility, discussions are continuing with both the World Bank and Norway towards establishing the GRIF. A meeting was held in Washington on February 2-3, 2010 and the prerequisite elements are being addressed to have the GRIF operational by 2nd Quarter 2010, the report says. No money will be disbursed until the GRIF is operational.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Guyana government will annually publish a report documenting that the enabling activities have been conducted in a satisfactory manner, as these are described, and on an annual basis updated, in the JCN.

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