The LCDS multi-stakeholder committee is intended to be a forum for civil society without partisan politics intruding

Dear Editor,

The Office of Climate Change has noted the article of Sunday, May 8th 2011 in the Sunday Stabroek headlined `PNCR exclusion from LCDS Committee ‘unsatisfactory’ – Norway’.

The article is selectively extracted from a ninety-seven (97) page study as part of a “Real Time Evaluation of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI)” carried out by a team of independent consultants (LTS International in collaboration with Indufor Oy) as an external commentary on “Norway’s Contributions to National REDD+ Processes 2007-2010”.

The report clearly states that although the consultants received funding from NORAD, the report does not represent the position of the Norwegian Government. The Stabroek News headline of the story describing the report as a statement coming from the Government of Norway is, therefore, totally inaccurate and calculated to mislead.

The consultants acknowledged “HE President Bharrat Jagdeo for being willing to spend significant time with us at both the start and finish of our mission and for allowing us to use the bulk of one meeting of the Multi Stakeholder Steering Committee for discussion of our mission”.

The study notes that Guyana’s LCDS “was the subject of a country wide consultation process which was independently monitored and, despite some reservations, was considered by moderators to be credible, transparent and inclusive overall. The level of national ownership is high and Guyanese society is remarkably well informed about it”.

The consultants point out that the study is “to determine the relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of Norway’s support to Guyana so far and draw preliminary lessons learned and recommendations”. With regard to the recommendations selectively highlighted in the Stabroek News report, the Office of Climate Change wishes to make the following observations:

* The Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee is an important forum for Civil Society – Government engagement. It is not intended to substitute for nor replicate the parliamentary process, but, instead, to provide a forum where civil society can have a discussion with Government without partisan politics intruding.

The MSSC is structured and run in exactly the same way as similar bodies in mature democracies across the world,  including Norway itself and most other countries in Europe and North America.

* The work of the MSSC has been one of the pillars of the success of Guyana’s LCDS. The body has brought together a wide and diverse range of stakeholders personally holding a variety of political views from across Guyana which has helped to make the LCDS the robust model that it is. This has been verified by the independent assessors of the consultative process – the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

* The LCDS was tabled twice in the Parliament of Guyana, an unprecedented occurrence, and on 17th December 2009, Parliament passed a Motion giving support to the LCDS.

* The Office of Climate Change continues to avail itself to receive inputs from LCDS stakeholders and to respond to requests for information and clarification. Many interested stakeholders continue to take up this opportunity.

While independent evaluations by external consulting parties are an important and continuing feature of the Guyana-Norway partnership and indeed Norway’s Forest and Climate Initiative, these assessments are not conclusions and, as the study is at pains to point out, “It should also be kept in mind that REDD (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) is a complex and moving target”.

The official response by the Government of Norway in paying, for a second year, performance-based payments totalling US$70 Million is the best indicator of Norway’s confidence in the partnership with Guyana.

On November 15, 2009, the Stabroek News, editorializing on the Guyana/Norway Agreement, wrote that “The credit for spearheading this initiative and for achieving this first tangible support to the LCDS must go comprehensively to President Jagdeo.

His exertions in the climate campaign over the last three years extending to the meeting of the Commonwealth Finance Ministers meeting in Georgetown in 2007 have been unremitting.

Together with the Berbice Bridge, his efforts towards monetizing the climate value in Guyana’s forests will go down as his lasting presidential legacy.”

We look forward to the Stabroek News, remaining faithful to their insights at that time in their reporting objectively on the progress of the LCDS.

Yours faithfully,
Office of Climate Change

Editor’s note: We agree that the headline unfortunately conveyed that the findings of the report represented Norway’s position. The body of the story, however, clearly explains that the findings were from a report commissioned by NORAD.

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