The Norwegian Government has committed to providing substantial funding to the Government of Guyana if it reduces deforestation. The two governments entered into the Guyana-Norway REDD+ Agreement in 2009. REDD+ stands for “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation” through conservation and sustainable management of forests and their carbon stocks.
In 2010, the Norwegian Government hired Rainforest Alliance (RA) to verify the progress of enabling activities under that agreement. RA recently published their report. Together with Global Witness, Forest Management Trust, Forest Peoples Programme, and colleagues in Norway and the United Kingdom, Rainforest Foundation US (RFUS) analyzed the report and sent our concerns to the relevant stakeholders.
Our concerns include the following:
- The report concludes with respect to some indicators that frameworks are in place and being implemented, whilst simultaneously acknowledging a lack of information on which to base an assessment.
- It presents a superficial assessment of fundamental problems relating to indigenous peoples’ rights and land tenure.
- It fails to accurately diagnose problems regarding public availability of information and incorrectly equates ‘outreach’ with ‘consultation’.
- It undermines the notion of independence, by declining to either review important independent literature, or raise concerns regarding self‐censorship and anonymity of persons interviewed.
As organizations that have worked in Guyana for the past ten years, we ask all parties involved to give these concerns serious consideration.
Rainforest Foundation US’ Work in Guyana
Throughout 2010, the government of Guyana sought to push through its Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), with little to no consultation with indigenous peoples or regard for indigenous rights. It is therefore strategically important to work with indigenous peoples in Guyana on climate change and REDD issues, as this collaboration between the Guyanese and Norwegian governments is setting the stage in terms of bilateral collaboration on these issues. Therefore, whatever happens in Guyana will have enormous implications on how these agreements could move forward in other places.
With RFUS support over the past year, the Amerindian Peoples Association, the national representative indigenous organization in Guyana, has not only provided information at the community level about their rights, climate change, and REDD+, but also has actively participated in national and international discussions, and will hopefully influence policy formation. As part of our work, RFUS analyzes documents and provides information to support indigenous advocacy nationally and internationally.