The National Toshaos Council (NTC) will now be able to enhance its capacity with the support of Conservation International Guyana (CI-Guyana), after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two organisations yesterday.
While discussions regarding the MoU were held earlier this year, the document was made official yesterday when it was signed by the two parties in the presence of participants of the 10th annual NTC conference at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre.
Offering brief remarks following the signing, Chairman of the NTC Toshao Joel Fredericks described the MoU as “a way forward and building bridges for great things to happen.” He said that working with CI-Guyana will see positive change for the NTC.
“If we look at our theme, which says, ‘Guyana’s First Peoples, Preserving our Culture and Land for Life,’ and then examine the MoU and the work that CI is doing, it fits right there,” Fredericks said.
Moreover, the Chairman explained that he is cognisant of the fact that the NTC faces many issues, however, he believes that such issues can be addressed through capacity building, which is what the MoU offers.
“Signing this MoU is history for the NTC because as a leaders you must have faith to move things forward… This MoU with CI is a partnership to see what we can do to save the environment,” he added.
The MoU will be valid for a period of two years during which the NTC will see the strengthening of its ability to fulfil its mandate with more effective, organisational, decision making and other relevant capacities as well as assistance with the designing and testing tools to support sustainable development of villages, incorporating REDD+ and principles of free prior and informed consent and ensuring that specific needs and priorities of groups within communities are wholly reflected.
The collaboration will also seek to identify and secure funds to finance the implementation of the MoU as well as other areas mutually agreed upon by the NTC and CI-Guyana.
Upon the completion of the two-year period, the parties have the option to renew the agreement after an evaluation.
Amendments to the MoU may be done by way of mutual written consent through an exchange of letter between the parties.
Also present at the signing was Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Sydney Allicock, who lauded the NTC for taking the decision to sign the MoU.
“Today I am pleased to witness the signing of this MoU that is hopefully going to break new ground for all communities across Guyana. This is an opportunity that we should not take lightly… This might be an opportunity for you to strengthen your position by putting yourself and your communities to become more involved and more effective in the applying and the deliberation of your duties to your people,” the minister said.
“Sometimes, you have to take chances and this is one of them… So let us look at this as a positive one. I know you would be told that this might be the worst thing to happen but we need to find ways to help ourselves. And if we have likeminded organisations [and] individuals, I think we would take the opportunity, see what it is because we are working for partnership in this development. We cannot do it alone, we have been here many years and you have the same cries year after year. I think it’s time you take the bull by its ears,” he said.
Meanwhile, Executive Director of CI-Guyana Dr David Singh indicated his hope of the MoU leading to a fruitful relationship between CI-Guyana and the NTC.