The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) project ‒ Guyana’s Redd+ Readiness activities ‒ is now in the close-off year without any tangible activity being completed. This was a 3 year project signed in 2014 by the former administration and was slated for completion in February 2017. Much to the disappointment of Guyanese and in particular indigenous people not a single activity has been completed. Less than 5% of the project budget of US $3.8M has been expended. This is totally unacceptable and reeks of poor implementation by the IDB and the executing agency.
Guyana was able to qualify for the FCPF project due to its good track record on climate change and REDD+ activities that was ongoing at the time. It was seen as an important next step in Guyana’s progress on global climate change and REDD+ and green agenda. It was also a stepping stone to access other climate change and green funds like the Green Climate Funds, Forest Investment Fund, Climate Investment Funds, etc.
As alluded to earlier the agreement was signed in 2014 by the then Ministry of Finance. In 2015 under the new administration, the Ministry of Natural Resources took charge of the project and established a separate FCPF secretariat to implement the project. This was all with the approval of the IDB. The saga started with the IDB in 2015, when the Bank brought in someone with little or no experience in climate change and REDD+ to oversee the project. He was unable to bring any value to the project. He was unable to work with local stakeholders to whom he displayed a level of arrogance. He also had an altercation with a current Member of Parliament. I had personal interaction with the this IDB coordinator in the hope of moving the activities of the project forward but it was all futile due to his lack of understanding of the basics of the project and the dynamics of working with local stakeholders, including indigenous people. All this was happening under the watchful eyes of the IDB office here and abroad and nothing was done to remedy it. As a result the project lost momentum and basically nothing got implemented. Instead endless time and effort were spent arguing with the IDB on the best approach for the project. Sometime in 2016 after the project was seen to be becoming a failure, the person was whisked away to IDB’s headquarters. However this did not help, as from then till now the project is still lagging behind, much to the disappointment of stakeholders, and in particular the indigenous people. Some US$300,000.00 was earmarked for the indigenous organizations and the National Toshaos Council (NTC) in benefits. This would have brought tremendous relief and benefits to the Amerindian people of Guyana.
On the occasion of the opening of the NTC 2016 conference, the Chair of NTC, Mr Fredericks, made a passionate plea for President Granger to intervene and investigate the progress or lack of progress on the implementation of this project. One year later and another NTC conference (2017) came and went and then another Amerindian Heritage Month came and went, and the project is exactly at the same stage it was in 2016 when the NTC chair asked the President to intervene. So it is clear that the IDB has mismanaged this project and cannot cast blame anywhere else. I call on the government to request that the IDB transfer the entire project budget to the treasury so that the government gets the funds that were allocated by the donor. The government can then administer the project and allocate the portion of budget earmarked for the Amerindian people. Other than that, let another institution take over the project. We have UNDP, CI, WWF, FAO, etc, willing to come on board.
The IDB is just the intermediary for the funds, and not the donor. Countries like Norway, etc, are the donors through the World Bank window and IDB was given the task of fund manager. The failure of the FCPF will hamper Guyana’s chances of accessing millions of US$ from other climate related fund windows like the Carbon Investment Fund, Green Climate Fund, etc. Finally I repeat the call of our Toshao for the President to investigate this project and the failure to deliver funds, and the difficulties and disappointment it has brought to the Amerindian people, at least to TAAMOG.
TAAMOG was involved from the beginning of the project way back in 2008 during its formulation phase. We also participated in international meetings and negotiations to get this project forward. We invested substantial personal resources and time and thus feel very passionate about the project and now much disappointment.