First GRIF project moves closer to reality

-after concept note approval

The Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) Steering Committee last Wednesday approved the project concept note (PCN) for the institutional strengthening of the agencies involved in the implementation of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).

The PCN was approved electronically after the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) was asked at the last Steering Committee meeting on May 12 to make revisions and include additional details. The Committee also approved US$305,168 in administrative fees for project proposal preparation for the IDB. It is expected that the Trustee for the GRIF, the World Bank, will now release this sum to the IDB so that work will start on the preparation of the full project proposal.

The Institutional Strengthening PCN is the first to be submitted to the GRIF Committee. At the last meeting, the IDB’s representative had said that it is expected that the full project proposal will be ready to go to the Committee by late August or early September. After approval at the Committee level, the proposal will then have to be green-lit by the Bank’s Board, which is not expected to happen until September.

Since funds cannot be released from the GRIF until the Committee has approved a project, the monies are not expected to flow until then. Guyana had last year, however, received US$470,000 from Norway outside of the agreed mechanism – the GRIF – under their forest partnership. Guyana has also asked for more money outside the GRIF this year even though the Fund is operational.

The GRIF is the financial mechanism for the ongoing cooperation on climate change between Guyana and Norway, in which Oslo will pay up to US$250 million for Guyana’s performance on limiting greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and for progress made against governance-related indicators. Guyana will invest the payments it receives, and any income earned on them, in its LCDS.

The Institutional Strengthening project will involve strengthening the key institutions involved in the implementation of the LCDS, namely the Project Management Office (PMO), the Office of Climate Change, and the Guyana Forestry Commission. According to the Concept Notes, Guyana will spend US$7M in the next two years to strengthen these crucial institutions to coordinate and execute key components of the LCDS. Guyana will be working with the IDB on this project. The project will see the training of staff and the recruitment of qualified local and international personnel and consultants in the drive to build a “low carbon economy.”

Government has identified two other priority projects for this year. These are the Amerindian Land Titling and Demarcation project and the Amaila Falls Hydro Power project. The land titling project involves the transfer of communal land tenure rights to Amerindian communities.

It will include the titling and demarcation of communities that have already submitted requests, identifying and providing support to communities that have not yet submitted request for title but may wish to, and developing a mechanism to deal with land disputes.

According to the draft project document, it is envisioned that over four years—from 2011 to 2014—US$12M will be spent on the process and a budget of US$3.6M has been outlined for 2011.

The Amaila Falls Hydro-power project is a private sector hydropower project involving a development partnership with the Ministry of Finance and PMO. It will involve constructing a hydropower plant with 165MW peak capacity, clearing an area of 27km2, as well as a 278km transmission line linking the plant to hubs in Linden and Georgetown. Government is contributing equity to the project.

It has been 18 months since the forests’ partnership was sealed with a Memorandum of Understanding and full project proposals are still in the developmental stages.

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