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|President moves to access Norway LCDS funds|
|Friday, 24 September 2010 00:56|
PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday announced that Guyana will agree to the current World Bank mechanism to access the first US$30M tranche of climate change funds from Norway because he wants to move the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) along.
He said in New York that because he wants to get the LCDS moving, he told Norway’s Environment Minister Erik Solheim that Guyana will “sign on to whatever they have now just to get it (LCDS moving)…because I can’t wait any more, the indigenous people can’t wait any more”.
The President noted that Guyana has, since January, met the conditions for the funds to start flowing from the agreement with Norway but existing World Bank conditions for releasing the money are holding up key projects.
Guyana and Norway a year ago signed an agreement under which Norway will provide US$250M to Guyana’s climate change programme under agreed benchmarks and the World Bank is the agency through which the funds are to be disbursed.
The President’s announcement came at a special panel session in New York of former United States President Bill Clinton’s Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) which looked at `Investing in the World’s Forests’.
He maintained that the World Bank’s traditional rules of accessing funds were delaying key aspects of this country’s model of a non-polluting pathway to development which came in for more praise from other members of the high-level panel, including former Australian Prime Minister and current Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd.
Mr. Jagdeo pointed out that Guyana has built a momentum in its climate change programme and delays in disbursing the funds from Norway will cause him to lose credibility since “people will say this model can’t work.”
The LCDS is centred on deploying Guyana’s forests in mitigating climate change while also gaining financial and other support for doing so.
“We’re trying to demonstrate that you can have a non-polluting pathway to development”, President Jagdeo said, maintaining that delivering resources on the ground is the only way to solve the problem of safeguarding the trees and creating alternative employment.
He stressed that the only way to save forests in the long term is to out-compete the alternative use for forests, noting that despite philanthropy and the good work done by conservation organisations, some 50 per cent of tropical forests have either been lost or degraded.
He said the financial transfer mechanism for the forestry initiative will be vital because in Guyana’s agreement with Norway, this has been “the big problem”.
“…we have still been unable to put in place a financial transfer mechanism to intermediate those funds (from Norway). All our projects are ready; we’ve notified our Parliament; the strategy is ready”, the President told the forum.
He said the projects under the LCDS include demarcating indigenous peoples lands (US$4M); US$4M to ensure food security in 155 indigenous villages; hydro-power; education and health.
“We told the World Bank we don’t’ have a problem with the strongest fiduciary safeguards, the strongest environmental or social safeguards, but we need flexibility and the resources have to be delivered differently. This is payment for services – not the traditional aid mechanism”, he said.
Noting that Guyana has been unable to get that breakthrough, Mr. Jagdeo said he has discussed the issue with World Bank President Robert Zoellick and he thinks he understands it.
He said there is a huge suspicion in the developing world about using the World Bank to intermediate any climate funds, adding that he told Zoellick that “if we get this right now through this small model, it makes the case for the World Bank to be intermediating other larger sums of money when they become available.”
The President deplored the delays in cutting through the World Bank bureaucracy, stating that for one meeting to design the mechanism, 36 persons from the bank turned up while there were two from Guyana and three from Norway.
Although there have been several meetings, the parties have been unable to design a simple arrangement that does not compromise fiduciary, environmental or social safeguards, he said.
The President said although Guyana has created a model, many people are opposed to preserving forests, especially in light of the dismal record of the industralised world in delivering aid.
“They ask so what if you pledge? Are you sure that there will be a predictable stream of benefits flowing to the country that would allow us to generate alternative employment in the long run and not use the forest? That is the big question in Guyana.”
He recalled that the LCDS was worked out after more than 300 national consultations and that indigenous people are integrally involved, adding that a multi-stakeholder committee meets every week to drive the process and Parliament has accepted the strategy.
But he wondered whether the international community is ready to keep its part of the bargain, stating that this is posing difficulties.
Guyana, he said, was turning down offers from companies that want forestry concessions and local people also want to cut down trees for subsistence reasons.
Mr. Jagdeo said the United Nations climate change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark last December agreed to less than ambitious targets so there is no offset market for forest carbon.
“It’s impossible to do that and now everyone is saying there is a financial crisis and we don’t have public money. So, if you have limited public money and you can’t get the money from the market, how are we going to generate enough money to out-compete the alternative sources?”
He asked if the international community cannot fund the cheapest abatement solution (forestry), how will it fund the other abatement solutions.
“Everyone agrees that this is a low-hanging fruit”, he stated.
Preserving forests comes under the United Nations-backed Reduced Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) strategy and Mr. Jagdeo said while this has gained significant momentum, some critical issues have to be dealt with.
Mr. Rudd said he and President Jagdeo had dinner this week with Norway Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and went through some issues in “excruciating detail”.
He agreed that the intermediation task has to be concluded rapidly and suggested the convening of an informal group of about four or five people who are active globally to wrestle this part of the global rules to the ground.
“This should not be beyond the political will and capacity to do so”, he said.
Rudd also agreed with President Jagdeo that the enormous power of the forestry preservation initiative is that it is practical and immediate but said it is imperative that getting a market-based mechanism for this source of funds is one area of outcome in the next UN climate change summit in Cancun, Mexico in December.
He also stated that more than three billion dollars have been committed for forestry and with agreement on the rules to allow the funds to flow, the mechanism to decide who gives the funds and under what circumstances, “this is potentially ready to roll”.
Mr. Jonathan Pershing, Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change, U.S. Department of State, another member of the panel, agreed that there has been substantial progress on forests and said the U.S. is on track with US$1 billion committed in Copenhagen with a substantial part going to Indonesia, the Amazon Basin and Congo Basin.
He, however, said the scale of the money on the table will not cover what’s needed for forestry and suggested it has to be made part of a development agenda, part of a commercial strategy and an agenda in which the communities involved have buy-in and support for the actions being taken.
Pershing also said that a large scale framework at the international level that complements the community framework building from the bottom has the enormous role and potential to solve this sector’s problems.
Wangari Maathai, Founder and Chair, The Green Belt Movement and 2004 Nobel Peace Laureate, said activities to protect the forests have to happen at all levels – at the top (both policy and political) as demonstrated by President Jagdeo - and at the community level because “you are dealing with a very basic natural resource that provides us with very essential environmental services without which we cannot survive on this planet.”
She advocated firm linkages between the policymakers and the ground, saying there must be a commitment between the government, communities and the universities.
“We have to put things into action as President Jagdeo has done and truly go down to the grassroots”, she said.
Wangari said it is frustrating that “we are not moving as fast as we should” on protecting forests, noting too that countries are dependent on what happens in others.
She stated that what happens to forests in Kenya can affect the Nile River in Egypt.
She said that trying to make these linkages has become a preoccupation for her “because unless we can make these linkages we don’t get concerned. We worry about what is happening around us but we don’t realise how dependent we are sometimes for resources far away from home.”
The other member of the panel was Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, Minister and Head, Presidential Unit for Development, Monitoring and Evaluation, Government of Indonesia, Jakarta.
Moderator John Podesta, President and Chief Executive Officer, Center for American Progress called the panel a “spectacular group of people”.
He too noted that it is practically impossible to address greenhouse gas emissions without addressing tropical deforestation and said the REDD-Plus and other initiatives can do this but a lot has to be done bilaterally and multilaterally using all the available instruments.
The CGI said that investing in forests should not be seen as a luxury for the rich and can be a key tool for economic empowerment.
“Communities that sell forest products harvested in a sustainable way have access to a source of income that can last for generations. Furthermore, communities can receive payment for protecting their forests by receiving certification from UN-REDD (United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation)”, it added.
In the session, panelists addressed the role that forests play in sequestering carbon, and the work that needs to be done to empower local populations to earn a living from forests while protecting them at the same time.
|Last Updated on Friday, 24 September 2010 01:06|
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