Norway releases US$1.1M to Guyana outside GRIF

Norway has released US$1.1M to Guyana outside of the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) – the agreed mechanism for the disbursement of funds under the two countries forests’ agreement – in order to enable Guyana to meet its contractual obligations under the partnership.

The funds represent interim funding for a National System for Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) for 2011. A statement on the newly established GRIF website said that MRV activities are ongoing activities and their funding cannot be delayed until the final approval of the Institutional Strengthening Project – of which the activities form a part.

At the last GRIF Steering Committee meeting on May 12, the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) had said that financing was urgently required for three specific activities: Independent Forest Monitoring, Forest Carbon Stock Assessment, and Forest Area Assessment with REDD+ Interim Indicators Reporting. These activities are necessary in order for Guyana to meet its contractual obligation with Norway. The activities form part of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) Institutional Strengthening Project.

The US$1,157,907 from the Norway-Guyana Agree-ment will be used by the GFC to further develop an internationally compliant national system for monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions and removals of carbon in Guyana’s forests for 2011, the statement said. These financial resources are part of the arrangements set out in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Joint Concept Note (JCN) between the Governments of Norway and Guyana, it said.

“The funds will be managed by Conservation International under its present agreements with the Governments of Norway and Guyana, by which the 2009-2010 activities were carried out,” the statement said. “The Partners reiterate their continued commitment to the processes being put in place under the institutional arrangements for management of the GRIF, including the work of the Steering Committee, the Trustee, and Partner and Implementing Entities,” it added.

The funds are the second tranche disbursed outside the GRIF. Stabroek News had previously reported that Guyana last year, received US$470 000 outside of the GRIF.

Under the Guyana-Norway partnership, in which Oslo has committed to pay up to US$250 million by 2015 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 an 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 Development Bank for project preparation for the Institutional Strengthening project. The partners had agreed that funds would only flow through a ‘Partner Entity.’

The Institutional Streng-thening project appears to be closer to finalization with the IDB last Tuesday requesting formal approval from the GRIF Steering Committee for the project in the amount of US$7M (US$5.94M from the GRIF trust fund and US$1.06M in Norway/CI funding) to carry out project related activities. The IDB also sought approval for the disbursement of the remainder of the administrative fees for it to continue project preparation.

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.

The GRIF website was recently established.

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