Norway to release more funds for Forestry Commission

Guyana and Norway are expected to ink an agreement shortly to enable a second tranche of money to be disbursed to the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) outside of the agreed mechanism under their forests partnership.

This was confirmed by head of Conservation Inter-national’s (CI) local office Dr David Singh, who briefly noted that it was a joint decision of both governments which CI has facilitated. Stabroek News had previously reported that Guyana last year, received US$470 000 outside of the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) and this year asked for more money to pay contractors involved in preparing reports for the partnership. The first tranche was channelled through CI through an existing framework.

The sum for this second tranche has not been revealed and head of the Office of Climate Change Shyam Nokta was unavailable when Stabroek News contacted his office. When reached, head of the Project Management Office in the Office of the President Steven Grin would not disclose any information, advising instead that CI be contacted. He added that the NGO would be issuing a press release. Guyana had requested US$1.54M but this newspaper had been told that Norway had slashed the sum.

The GFC has said that financing is urgently required for three specific activities: Independent Forest Monitor-ing, Forest Carbon Stock Assessment, and Forest Area Assessment with REDD+ Interim Indicators Reporting.

Recently, the agency has been advertising for a Remote Sensing and GIS Consultant/ Firm for the year two Forest Area Assessment and Change Monitoring under the agreement. The successful bidder will conduct a comprehensive assessment of forest area change and identify areas affected by forest degradation for the period October 1, 2010 to December 31, 2011, and will report on REDD+ Interim Indicators set out in the Joint Concept Note (JCN) of the Guyana-Norway partnership and build national capacities for estimating forest-related activity data.

Interested persons were asked to submit a five to ten page project proposal to the GFC by August 29, according to the bid notice on the GFC website. It was stated that the maximum consultancy and accuracy assessment budget for this contract, to fulfil all the deliverables is US$360 000.

It is expected that this second sum from Norway will pay for this. Under the Guyana-Norway partnership, in which Oslo has committed to 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, the partners had set up the GRIF as the financial mechanism through which funds would flow from Norway to Guyana.

No public announcement was made by Oslo or Georgetown of another mechanism through which funds would have been accessed. In the agreement sealed via a Memorandum of Understand-ing (MoU) on November 11, 2009, a process was outlined on how funds could be accessed from the GRIF with projects having to be approved by a Steering Committee (SC) comprising Guyana and Norway. No projects have been approved since the signing of the MoU but US$305 000 has been transferred from the GRIF to the Inter-American Develop-ment Bank for project preparation. The partners had agreed that funds would only flow through a ‘Partner Entity.’

Civil society and opposition political parties have called for transparency in how funds from the forest partnership are used and in the revised JCN the partners had accepted that transparency around funding is critical for REDD+ to function well. “To facilitate such transparency, the Government of Guyana will – by the end of April 2011 – establish a dedicated website, containing an over-view of all committed international funding for activities relevant to REDD+ and LCDS efforts in Guyana. This will ensure easy access to transparent information on contributors to Guyana’s REDD+ and LCDS efforts.

The website will track pledges of funding, commitments of funding, and actual disbursements,” says the JCN.

To date, there has been no word on this dedicated website and it was only after Stabroek News reported on this that a page on the LCDS website, which outlined some international financial support received for the LCDS, was put up.

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