Within one year of receiving the first set of payments for its internationally validated forest carbon credits, the Guyana Government has set a new record of implementing 500 projects, all of which will lend to the sustainability of over 200 Amerindian villages. This was recently revealed by the country’s Vice President. Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo.
The funding for the 500 projects was made possible through a landmark deal with Hess Corporation. The American oil producer had pledged in December 2022 to purchase 12.5 million credits from Guyana, valued at least US$750 million. Hess which holds a 30 percent stake in Guyana’s oil-rich Stabroek Block, has already provided Guyana with US$150 million.
Of that amount, the Vice President said US$22.5M was given to 242 communities, US$5M was provided to the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) and the remainder, US$122.5M, remains in a bank account to be used for adaptation funding. He was also keen to outline the rigid systems of accountability in place for the expenditure of the funds by the respective villages.
“You would recall that, to get a buy-in at the village level, when we met with the Toshaos, we insisted that they would need to have the minutes of the meeting held at the village to show their approval the plan, along with an attendance record of the participants to show a buy-in at the level of the village. This is consistent with the principle of free, prior and informed consent,” he said.
He also underscored the government’s insistence on having rigid monitoring systems in place. This he said would be undertaken by a Finance and Monitoring committee that is in place in each village. The official said too that the government intends to hold itself accountable on the use of the funds. In this regard, he said there will be audits by international firms and the reports would be presented to parliament.
With 500 projects funded by US$22.5M, the Vice President said this demonstrates the credibility of the vision that imbues the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2030, a programme that he piloted back in 2009 during his tenure as Head of State.
In addition to proving transformative power of LCDS 2030, Dr. Jagdeo said the 500 projects also demonstrate a key lesson to the international community. “You can’t just have funding for these initiatives. You must also pay attention to the mechanism for getting the funds to the recipients…,” the Vice President said.
As he underscored the success of the Hess deal, Jagdeo referenced slow pace of a previous pact Guyana signed in 2009 with Norway. That ground-breaking agreement had created the world’s second largest national-level Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) scheme. Instead of being under the State’s control, Jagdeo said funds earned through that arrangement are managed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
“You would recall the mechanism we used in the past when we had the agreement with Norway and we were working on building a model for forest carbon globally, that we used a different body to intermediate those funds and that is the IFIs (International Financial Institutions) and the difficulties we have had in getting those finds to communities,” the official said. He further noted that Guyana is currently at the stage of preparing to utilize a portion of the US$85M that was deposited by Norway for several solar projects.
When compared with the Hess deal and the new arrangements in place for the disbursements of funds, the Vice President said it is clear where real progress is taking place in terms of capacity building and green job creation.
He said these successes will be shared with Guyana’s bilateral partners and other interested stakeholders at the 28th United Nations Climate Change conference or Conference of Parties, to be held from November 30 until December 12, 2023, at the Expo City, Dubai.