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Blunt talk on protecting forests to combat climate change

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Washington Post
Juliet Eilperin
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What exactly is the hold-up in terms of Norway's forestry assistance to Guyana, which Guyana's president Bharrat Jagdeo complained about last week during a panel sponsored by Avoided Deforestation Partners in Cancun?

It's complicated. Jagdeo put the blame squarely on the World Bank, which is serving as the go-between for the money. But World Bank officials countered they are simply an intermediary and don't have a vote on the key steering committee, which must sign off before the first installment of Norway's $250 million pledge is delivered.

Erik Solheim, Norway's minister for the environment and international development, shed a bit more light on the matter in an interview Tuesday, explaining that much of the delay stems from the sort of environmental, human rights and fiduciary safeguards the World Bank requires.

"All these are good, but it takes time, it makes things slower," Solheim said in a phone interview, adding that to be fair, while Norway is also frustrated with the delays, these safeguards were "forced upon the World Bank by countries like Norway."

Solheim added that when it comes to Norway, "We do not need a huge number of safeguards. It has to be non-corrupt, the money needs to be spent on [preserving forests that are] sequestering carbon."

And Solheim expressed sympathy for Jagdeo, whose term ends next year and spoke in Cancun of expending "political capital" on saving forests without getting anything to show for it.

"He's frustrated because it takes too much time. His time as president is running out, he wants this as part of his political legacy. That's very fair and good," he said. "From my point of view the main difficulty is this is political innovation. We are inventing a new system for development assistance, or climate support."

Norway wants to help Guyana protect its forests because they help guard against climate change: deforestation accounts for roughly 15 percent of the world's annual greenhouse gas emissions.


Extpub | by Dr. Radut