The process for Amerindian communities to ‘opt-in’ to the Low Carbon Develop-ment Strategy (LCDS) has not yet started, Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai disclosed last week.
“The concept and the recommendation coming out from the consultation have been put together and I believe that the NTC (National Toshaos Council) will be taking the lead on that,” said Sukhai during a press conference at the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs.
A recent report for the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) said that despite the comprehensive consultation process, it is not clear that titled Amerindian communities have sufficient knowledge required as yet to make informed decisions on “opting-in” to the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). It had recommended more work in this regard. Norway is providing financial support to Guyana in a partnership to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
Sukhai explained that the opting-in process is still being looked at and it is at the “conceptual stage.” The NTC will take the lead in discussing the arrangement with the support of government, she said. As part of the consultations that the NTC will be carrying out, Sukhai said, they will seek to broaden awareness of REDD+ and other areas of the LCDS that need to be followed-up. She noted that the NTC is still awaiting funds from a Forest Carbon Partnership Facility grant, to be able to do so.
Sukhai said that the LCDS is “something Amerindians have practiced for years” and it is “unusual to always hear that they don’t understand what LCDS is.”
In response to a question about the “paternalistic” description used to describe the relationship between government and Amerindians in the NORAD report, Sukhai said that the law mandates the Minister to sit on the NTC as an ex-officio member.
“I don’t understand what that meant but this is the government of Guyana and the government of Guyana has a commitment to work with the indigenous people in partnership and it is going to be a very faulty logic if the government of Guyana does not support the NTC,” she said. The law was not imposed by the government and the Amerindian Act was formulated, designed, discussed and agreed on by Amerindians over a three and a half years period and sent to Parliament for approval, she said.
Meantime, she noted that the NTC is moving to establish a Secretariat and is recruiting staff. $12M has been budgeted for the Council for its activities. Asked about the location for the Secretariat, she said that this is a decision for the Council.