$780M eco-system protection fund launch
The Surinamese government has warned donors to stop treating the issue of eco-systems as mere handouts.
John Goedschalk, of Suriname’s Climate Compatible Development Agency, made the call on Monday during the launch of the Guyana Shield Facility, a fund to protect the ecosystems in the Guyana Shield region which includes Guyana, Suriname, Colombia and Brazil.
Talks are also underway to have French Guiana and Venezuela sign up. Already, the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have allocated almost 3M Euros and are now inviting proposals for funding.
According to the Surinamese official, the protection of the ecosystem should not be considered
“Charity”, rather it is an investment into the protection of the globe.
Stressing that the facility is a serious venture, Goedschalk made reference to the historic Norway financing agreement with Guyana which although moneys have been disbursed to an account, it has failed to filter down to the receiving country.
The agreement to pay for protection of the eco-systems is not a donation nor a purchase and stakeholders “should not go down this path”, the official said.
Among the officials at the launching at the Promenade Gardens, Waterloo Street, were Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud, governmental advisor on the environment, Navin Chandarpal; EU Ambassador, Robert Kopecky; US Ambassador, D. Brent Hardt and several stakeholders.
The EU had co-financed the first phase of the Guyana Shield Initiative to the tune of 1,676,331 Euros.
The first phase of the Guyana Shield Initiative and the Chainsaw Milling Project worked closely with Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development. The centre also received specific funding from the EU for a sustainable tourism and fisheries project which started in December 2009 in the amount of 270,000 Euros.
This new phase, which will last between 2012 and 2014, is also being co-financed by the EU with a budget of 1.5 million Euros and a similar contribution of an EU member state – the Netherlands.
“This proves the importance that Europe places on protecting biodiversity in South America. Collaboration between countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Guyana and Suriname could serve to reinforce integration on environment issues in the region,” the EU Ambassador said.
UNDP’s Deputy Resident Representative, Chisa Mikami, explained that the facility is a multi-party funding that is geared to help further protect the ecosystems in the Guyana Shield.
The fund will be handled by the UNDP office in Guyana.
In addition to messages from Colombia and the government of Amapá, a state of Brazil, Minister Persaud in his remarks, noted that Guyana is the heart of the Guyana Shield system and that UNDP has been a “reliable partner”.
“Our recent experience at the international community level sometimes has not been too encouraging, but certainly having this type of arrangement here would prove the wisdom and certainly will serve the type of approaches that we hope to develop, resulting from this type of facility.
He noted that Guyana’s new President, Donald Ramotar, has introduced a new ministry, the Natural Resources and the Environment, in an attempt to ensure critical agencies operate more in sync.
In April, another tranche of the Norway funds is expected to be placed in the bank accounts being managed by the World Bank. Persaud said that issues like illegal mining and logging could also be areas for targeting from the fund.
The Guiana Shield region covers 2.5 million km2. It extends from Colombia in the west to the Brazilian state of Amapá in the east, including the Venezuelan states of Delta Amacuro, Bolívar and Amazonas, all of Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, and continuing into the Brazilian States of Pará, Roraima and Amazonas.
The region is said to contain 10-15% of the world’s fresh water reserves and an extremely rich diversity of plants and animals, most of which are unique to this region. The region is still largely inhabited by thriving indigenous communities, whose knowledge and skills are indispensable for proper conservation of the region and a great asset to world culture.
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