Indigenous NGOs baffled at APA’s workshop results
THE National Amerindian Development Foundation, the Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana and the Guyanese Organisation of Indigenous Peoples are baffled by the misleading statements carried in the Stabroek News under caption ‘Indigenous Leaders call for hold on LCDS, REDD+ projects’ published March 10, 2010 and Kaieteur News ‘Amerindian Community slams LCDS consultation’ pg 20, published March 10, 2010.
Our collective responses to these articles were not done under duress, political direction or animosity. Our support for the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) materialized after consulting and interacting with the LCDS secretariat, the Office of Climate Change (OCC).
Our involvement in the Sub-national consultations from June 19 – July 7, 2009 was to help facilitate the process, inform and explain the LCDS document to those that needed help. Post of the sub-national consultations Amerindian leaders requested further intervention on interpreting the document; this was done in regions 7 and 8.
On two occasions, one, during the launching of the LCDS on June 8, 2009 and subsequently at the National Toshaos Conference held at the International Convention Centre, the elected Amerindian leaders were charged by our president with disseminating information to their community members. Claiming that information on policies etc. were not adequately addressed or disbursed is saying that your elected leaders are not functioning. The Indigenous NGOs team that conducted the ‘Awareness Sessions’ during September can sanction that claim as true.
It is questionable why the Amerindian People’s Association would hold a workshop to prioritize ‘consultations’ as a main topic eight months after such activities were concluded. We are not sure if any attempt was made to access information regarding the ‘sub-national consultations or the Indigenous awareness sessions’ our view is that if that was done the workshop would have been better informed.
The indigenous NGOs are fearful that the motives behind these publications are bent on damaging the progress and agreements made so far. The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) a monitoring agency, agreed to, by both the Government of Guyana and Norway to ensure that the consultations were conducted with Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) as a central pillar has submitted its report and has not indicated or found the FPIC stipulation to be violated or compromised.
Calling for a hold on LCDS and REDD+ projects is putting the entire Guyanese population at ransom. Closing projects that will improve the lives of a country’s population is throwing that country into retrogression.
The LCDS document clearly states that Indigenous lands are not and will not be included into the LCDS frame work with out the approval and agreement of the Indigenous community. Clearly if extractive or other projects are designed within the LCDS framework it does not involve or include the indigenous communities.
We are aware that given the new dynamics of this new Strategy many issues have to be dealt with but avenues are open for such an approach, it is for the Indigenous community to identify and utilize them. Adopting a no go stance is starving the cow while the grass grow.