Guyana-Norway partnership, GRIF, works in progress
The Norwegian Government has penned a response to the eight points of contention documented by a body of civil society personalities on March 24, 2011, as to the state of affairs of the Guyana REDD Investment Fund, saying that the partnership is very much a work in progress, one that will improve over time.With respect to the complaint over the delays in the preparation of projects, the letter said that getting the modalities of the GRIF sufficiently established and getting the projects approved by the GRIF Steering Committee has taken longer than expected. “This is a reflection of getting a new system to work, including with respect to the application of fiduciary, environmental and social safeguards,” the letter said.
It noted that it is taking the matter seriously and said the Government of Guyana has prepared six projects and the respective partner entities are at present reviewing these. It said that as of now, no funds have been disbursed from the GRIF, even though Norway has already released the funds to Guyana, amounting to US$70M.
Another issue that the stakeholders raised in their letter is that of the rate of deforestation under the agreement. The Norwegian letter explained that the intention of the agreement is to maintain a low level of deforestation. “By any means of comparison, the deforestation rate in Guyana remains extremely low. At deforestation rates as low as those observed in Guyana, even very small deforestation events will cause significant [percentage-wise] changes in the deforestation rate,” the letter stated.
It said Guyana and Norway are intent on quickly disincentivizing any systematic upward trend in Guyana’s deforestation rates. “Based on the revised numbers, we have therefore put in place an incentive structure for that purpose. The incentive structure is publically available in our Joint Concept Note and implies payments start to fall at 0.56 percent deforestation and cease completely at 0.1 percent. By any measure, this is ambitious,” the letter said.
It said that to further strengthen transparency and credibility of forest management practices and authorities in Guyana, Norway has agreed to establish Independent Forest Monitoring in the country. “An open, competitive tender process to procure the services of a credible party to fill this role has just been completed. When the IFM becomes operational in the near future, this will also be an important recipient of any information you may possess regarding suspected irregularities in the Guyanese forestry sector,” the letter stated.
Regarding the need for strong and consistent safeguards, the letter said that these safeguards will be applied with those of the IDB, the World Bank and the UNDP, dependent on which institution will be partner entity for the relevant project. It noted that these institutions have played an important role as channels for the Norwegian multilateral cooperation for many years. They have environmental, social and fiduciary safeguards that are compatible with the requirements for the use of Norwegian funds,” the letter said.
With regard to the complaint about the weak participatory process, the Norwegian letter advised that the stakeholders make their concern known to the authorities in Guyana.
Norway also expressed confidence in the partner entities and in their experience and expertise to deliver in partnership with Guyana.