Toshaos council asks IDB for meeting on forest carbon project

The National Toshaos Council (NTC) has asked the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for a meeting of all stakeholders in a forest carbon project to address allegations that have been made about its execution and the roles of the bank and the Government of Guyana.

A release from the NTC on Friday said that it has “formally submitted a request to the IDB for an independently facilitated meeting engaging all stakeholders to the (Forest Carbon Partnership Fund) FCPF project to clear up all issues – real and perceived – as it relates to the FCPF project, the IDB’s role, and the Government of Guyana’s role in the implementation of the project.”

The FCPF is a World Bank project for which the IDB is functioning as the delivery partner for Guyana. Under the project, Guyana was awarded a US$3.8 million grant in January, 2014 and the NTC is meant to be one of the beneficiaries.

The release from the NTC came following what it said was numerous articles in the media by “someone purporting to represent the indigenous peoples of Guyana” and accusing the IDB of malpractice at various levels. The NTC did not identify the articles.

“The NTC wishes to distance itself from this(ese) organization(s) or person(s) and categorically state that those views and articles do not represent the indigenous position.

“It must also be noted that the NTC sees these articles not only as contrary to constructive ongoing dialogue with the IDB as civil society partners, but also as irresponsible in nature considering the IDB’s role in Guyana as a development partner to Guyana,” the release said.

It added that from the signing of the FCPF project agreement in February 2014, funds have been budgeted for institutional support for the NTC and other indigenous NGOs. It said that in Decem-ber 2014 funds were initially disbursed to the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) as the executing agency for the commencement of the FCPF project as determined by the GFC but it has since laid dormant.

The NTC said that as of June 2015, no activities related to the project had taken place and to avoid cancellation of the project, the IDB “recalled the initial disbursement of funds advanced to the GFC to reset the clock on the funds and the project.” The NTC said that the IDB has formally communicated to and confirmed to the NTC and the indigenous beneficiary NGOs of the FCPF project, that all resources remain available to the project.

The NTC said that it was also disclosed to the indigenous NGOs that the new implementing agency for the FCPF project is the Ministry of Natural Resources.

“This news now gives us – the NTC and applicable NGOs, an opportunity, with the government’s support, to finally access these funds for institutional support for the NTC and other NGO’s to build our capacities for REDD+ as one priority area of the FCPF project,” the NTC said

The release added that the NTC and the FCPF beneficiary NGOs recently received correspondence from the IDB in response to a letter sent to the World Bank and the IDB complaining of the conduct of the IDB’s Guyana office in handling the FCPF project. The NTC said that the IDB in line with its principles of transparency replied to the complainant’s concerns and provided their response and all the FCPF project documents and policy guidelines to the beneficiary stakeholders

“It would appear that the complainant to the World Bank, though knowledgeable of the IDB’s role in Guyana to support development, has made some accusations that may have arisen out of a lack of understanding of the IDB’s and the government’s role in the LCDS and execution of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) project in Guyana, respectively. As per the contractual agreement between the IDB as the delivery partner and the Government of Guyana, the procurement and fiduciary functions of the FCPF project are the responsibility of the executing agency; now the Ministry of Natural Resources. Contrary to what was written in the press, the project agreement and procurement plans which is publicly available on the IDB’s website does not cater for any direct transfer of funds to any other organization or entity,” the NTC said.

The NTC said that it firmly believes that a meeting of all the stakeholders is the most appropriate manner to achieving the transparency and accountability that is sought by the various authors of the various articles. It added that the meeting “may prove exceptionally useful to alleviating any fears or misunderstanding of the various stakeholders’ positions.”

The release said that the NTC is a body comprised of Toshaos of all the 212 indigenous communities of Guyana and said that as such it is charged with representing all 75,000 plus indigenous peoples of the indigenous nations.

In the Technical Cooperation (TC) document which Stabroek News had reported on in January, 2014, the IDB said that the objective of the project was to assist the Guyana Government in their efforts to establish an enabling framework and build their capacity for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) by providing financial and technical assistance. Specifically, the TC would support: improvements in the organisation of the country for REDD+ readiness, including stakeholder consultations; and the preparation of the Guyana REDD+ Strategy to facilitate Guyana’s access to additional funding under performance-based incentives.

The FCPF was established in 2008 to finance REDD+ preparatory activities, and as a funding alternative for countries that demonstrate the reduction of greenhouse gases from deforestation and forest degradation. The World Bank is the trustee and secretariat of the FCPF.

Component 1 of the FCPF —Institutional arrangements and consultations for REDD+ readiness—seeks to strengthen the efficacy, accountability and transparency of the national readiness management and institutional arrangements, and increase stakeholder consultation and participation in REDD+ implementation.

It is expected that national readiness management institutions and arrangements would be established and operationalised. These institutions include the REDD Secretariat, the NTC, the National REDD+ Working Group and a national conflict resolution mechanism.



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