Guyana, Norway forest pact moving into ‘unknown territory’

- Brattskar

Director of Norway’s Inter-national Climate and Forest Initiative, Ambassador Hans Brattskar said the forest partnership with Guyana will improve over time and is moving into “unknown territory.”

His remarks were contained in a response to several members of civil society as well as two parliamentarians, who had written to Norway’s Minister of the Environment, Erik Solheim in March outlining several concerns and saying that the government here has “substantially failed” to implement the agreement, in which Oslo has committed up to US$250 million ($51.7 billion) by 2015 for Guyana to preserve its forests.

“The partnership is very much a work in progress. It is not perfect but we are breaking new ground and learning and adapting as we go. We will continue to improve our partnership over time,” said Brattskar. In addressing the several points raised, he said that without substantiation, claims of corruption “cannot easily be refuted”.

He said the chosen “partner entities” through which projects to be funded by funds from Norway under the partnership, in Oslo’s view, meet the requirement for strong and consistent safeguards and these institutions have played an important role as channels for Norwegian multilateral cooperation for many years.

Meanwhile, in relation to the Amaila Falls project, Brattskar said that if the financing of equity is presented to the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund Steering Committee, the Inter-American Development Bank’s assessment will be used by Norway as the base for assessing GRIF support. “The application of high standards when it comes to fiduciary, environmental and social safeguards are to be applied to all projects funded from the GRIF,” Brattskar said.

The letter noted that transparency is essential to the Guyana-Norway partnership and efforts to provide adequate and timely information will continue. Noting that the partnership with Guyana is moving into “unknown territory”, Brattskar said that its main service may turn out to be the lessons and the learning it provides

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