Rainforest Alliance to evaluate Guyana’s REDD+ progress
Rainforest Alliance has been selected as the independent entity to review Guyana’s Annual Progress reports on REDD+ enablers under the Guyana-Norway forest protection agreement.
In a statement earlier this month, the Rainforest Alliance Program announced that it has been contracted by the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment to conduct an independent verification of the cumulative accuracy of two Annual Progress Reports on REDD-plus Enabling Indicators. Guyana has completed two Annual Progress Reports: one for the period November to February 2010 and the other from March to September 2010.
Guyana and Norway last November inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreeing that Oslo would pay US$30 million ($6.2 billion) this year and potentially up to a total of US$250 million ($51.7 billion) by 2015 for this country to preserve its forests. Under the partnership, Guyana will accelerate its efforts to limit forest-based greenhouse gas emissions and protect its rainforest as an asset for the world. Norway will provide financial support to Guyana at a level based on this country’s success in limiting emissions. This will enable Guyana to start implementing its Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) at scale. The Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) through which the money will be channeled was recently set up and it was announced that the first tranche is being processed.
According to the Joint Concept Note (JCN), under the heading of Indicators of Enabling Activities, the governments of Norway and Guyana have decided that the commencement and annual continuity of result-based financial support from Norway will depend on agreed progress regarding seven factors. These will be assessed by Rainforest Alliance and are: Strategic framework, Continuous multi-stakeholder consultation process, Governance, Financial mechanism, Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV), and, and the Rights of indigenous peoples and other local forest communities as regards REDD+. The 7th Enabling Indicator relates to the Annual Assessment and Verification being done by Rainforest Alliance.
The JCN stipulates that, “Annual independent overall assessments will be conducted by one or more neutral expert organizations, to be appointed jointly by the Participants in consultation with the international financial institution managing the GRIF, on whether or not the REDD-plus enablers have been met; and what results Guyana has delivered according to the established indicators for REDD-plus performance. A neutral expert organization will also provide an annual status report for the Governments of Norway and Guyana”.
On its website, the Rainforest Alliance says it works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. It is based in New York City, with offices throughout the United States and worldwide.
The organisation began implementing the review on October 4. It said that the review will include information gathering in Guyana from October 10 to today. The organisation noted that information gathering is not restricted to the field dates and stakeholders may also submit written comments or observations, or request telephone interviews to provide perspective, until October 25th. Comments received after October 25th will be considered if received prior to the submission of the organisation’s draft report to the governments of Norway and Guyana, which is expected to occur on November 11th.
The final verification report will be a public document and posted on the LCDS website.
The verification team comprises: Team Leader Richard Z. Donovan, who is also the Vice President of Forestry and Senior Vice President, Rainforest Alliance; Christian Sloth, Manager of Rainforest Alliance/SmartWood Program Verification Services and Rainforest Alliance/SmartWood representative for the Guianas, Dr. Gary Clarke.
Clarke was named as a principal of logging company, Sherwood Forrest Incorporated, which was awarded a State Forest Exploratory Permit (SFEP) to carry out works in the Upper Essequibo and Berbice area within Region Six. The concession encompasses 167 066 hectares of forest and according to the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), the proposed logging operation in the biodiversity rich area will increase access and business opportunities for harvesters and developers of non-timber forest resources but there will be loss of wildlife.
However, when contacted, Donovan said that Clarke, as director, separated from Sherwood in July 2009 with documents formally registered in early September 2009. “He has not been a director of the company since then”, Donovan said. Sherwood’s advisor, Dr. Patrick Williams had in February 4 this year at a meeting in Annai, named Clarke as a principal of the company and quizzed on this, Donovan said that this must have been a comment made in error.
Meantime, earlier this month, the second Annual Progress Report, which covers the period March 1st to September 30th 2010, was posted on the LCDS website and was open for public comments for 14 days, ending last Thursday. In future years, the annual progress report will cover the period 1st October to September 30th.
In the report, government gave updates on the progress made. On governance, it noted that under the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), the final version of Guyana’s RPP is being prepared taking on board comments received; the third draft of the LCDS was launched and a number of activities have commenced in compliance with the FCPF REDD readiness framework.
On the Continuous multi-stakeholder process, the government noted that “the LCDS continues to be subject to an institutionalized, systematic and transparent process of multi-stakeholder consultation and awareness…” and the multi-stakeholder steering committee has been meeting regularly.
On Governance, it noted that a draft REDD+ Governance Development Plan (RGDP) was prepared and several elements are already being implemented.
On the Financial Mechanism, the government said that the Office of Climate Change and the Project Management Office have been engaging with Implementing Agencies and potential Partner Entities such as the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations Development Programme to agree on the approach and to develop project proposals for the LCDS priority projects for the period 2010- 2011.
These proposals will be tabled at the first meeting of a GRIF Steering Committee which is expected to convene soon.
On the MRV, the report says that the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) has begun preparatory work for the establishment of a Monitoring, Reporting and Verification System (MRVS) while broad based MRVS Technical and Steering Committees have been established by the GFC.
On the rights of indigenous peoples and other local forest communities as regards REDD+, the report says that the rights of Indigenous people of Guyana are entrenched in the Guyana constitution and the Amerindian Act of Guyana, which it says is “one of the very few pieces of legislation that protect the rights of indigenous people in the world”.
The progress report says that in the process of planning and implementing Guyana’s REDD-plus and LCDS efforts and activities, mechanisms have been put in place to enable the effective participation of all indigenous peoples and other local forest communities. The ‘Opt In’ Mechanism which has been developed is another approach which recognizes the rights of indigenous and forest communities in the REDD-plus and LCDS process, it says.
With Guyana about to receive, the first tranche, the government in the revised LCDS has said that in 2010 and 2011, interim REDD+ revenue of between US$60 million and US$111 million in total will be invested in seven priority areas. These are the: Amaila Falls Equity, Titling and demarcation of Amerindian Villages, Amerindian Development Fund, Information and Communications Technology Infrastructure, Small and Micro enterprise development in low carbon sectors, Research, education and ICT training and Supporting institutions for the LCDS.