Government’s historic Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2030 presented to the National Assembly by Finance Minister

Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh today presented Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2030 to the National Assembly. It is expected that the National Assembly will debate the motion on the LCDS 2030 at its next sitting.

Today’s presentation of the LCDS 2030, follows a more than seven-month national consultation, based on a draft strategy which was launched by His Excellency President Irfaan Ali in an Address to the Nation on October 28, 2021. This revised version of the LCDS 2030, incorporates feedback and comments received during the national consultation process.

Since the launch, thousands of people across Guyana participated in information sharing and consultation activities. In his foreword to the LCDS 2030, President Ali thanked all those who participated and contributed ideas and opinions. The President said: “The strategy that has resulted is not a static document – but rather a vision that will live for years to come. It sets a direction of travel that I believe will catalyse innovation and new ideas as its various elements move to implementation. I hope that as this implementation pathway evolves, our national conversation and consultation about its important measures will continue. I want everyone in the country to have the chance to forge opinions about sustainable development.”

The LCDS 2030 builds from an original vision set out in 2009, when the then-President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, called for new global models for low-deforestation development pathways – stating: “Tropical Forest countries have long called for the ecosystem services provided by the world’s standing forests to be properly valued, through both public and private finance. This will enable people who live in forests and forest countries to create jobs and economic opportunity from an economy that works with nature, instead of today’s reality where forests are worth more dead than alive.”

This vision was given life through the LCDS 2009, which underwent one of the biggest national consultations in Guyana’s history at that time – and outlined a three-phase process whereby Guyana could earn money from forest climate services and invest these in LCDS priorities.

For Phase I, Guyana sought a bilateral partner who shared the country’s vision and who was willing to partner to create a model for the world. This culminated in the 2009 Guyana-Norway Agreement which, at the time, was the second largest forest agreement of its kind in the world. Norway paid Guyana over US$220 million for forest climate services for the period 2009 to 2015. These revenues were, and are still being, invested in clean energy, low carbon jobs, Amerindian land titling, the Amerindian Development Fund project, rehabilitation of the Cunha Canal and other climate resilience work, support for small and medium enterprise development in collaboration with the local banking sector, and many other investments which were set out in the LCDS 2009 and a 2013 update. Crucially, throughout this period, the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) invested heavily in building one of the worlds’ most advanced forest carbon Monitoring, Reporting and Verification Systems (MRVS).

No payments were received for performance after 2015.

However, on resuming office, the PPP/C Government quickly set out to re-establish and expand the means to implement the vision of the original LCDS.

Guyana is now once again able to advance– and to move to Phase II of the plan that was set out in 2009. In Phase II, Guyana can start to replace or augment payments from Norway, and instead receive revenues for forest climate services from global voluntary carbon markets.

At the same time, the LCDS 2030 sets out how the country can start to prepare for potential revenue streams from other ecosystem services – including those based on Guyana’s world-class biodiversity and water resources.

The LCDS 2030 will be funded from more than just the new revenues from forest carbon markets – regular national finances will also be deployed. However, there are particular new opportunities to use the new revenue streams from carbon markets to the benefit of those who live in, and depend on, the forest – as well as other local communities.

The national consultation on the LCDS 2030 sought ideas on how these new revenues could be invested. As a result, the strategy sets out two pathways:

  • National programmes as outlined in the draft LCDS 2030, including investments in renewable energy, land titling, protection against climate change, and other areas;
  • Community/Village-led programmes for indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) as set out in Village Sustainability Plans (VSPs) or equivalent, put together by communities themselves in accordance with the principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) as set out in the LCDS 2030 Chapter Two.

A dedicated 15% of all revenues from forest carbon markets will be available to Amerindian communities who choose to opt in and produce their own Village Sustainability Plans.

This proposal was welcomed by the National Toshaos Council in a resolution on Friday, July 15, 2022 with the NTC resolution recognizing “the extensive national-scale and community-based consultations, conducted over the past seven months, [which] have informed the main aspects of LCDS 2030” while welcoming “the commitment expressed in the LCDS 2030 to continued consultation and engagement with Indigenous Communities and Villages as the LCDS moves to implementation.”

Subsequently – on Monday, July 18, 2022 – the Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee (MSSC) of the LCDS approved the finalisation of the Strategy based on the wide-ranging stakeholder feedback since October 2021. The MSSC oversees the consultative process and implementation of the LCDS 2030.

It comprises representatives of Government Ministries and agencies, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, youth, mining and forestry producers, the National Toshaos Council, indigenous communities, and civil society.

 The MSSC will continue to meet regularly after the LCDS has been tabled in the National Assembly to take forward elements of the LCDS, which will require further consultation and idea generation. With the approval of the MSSC, the LCDS 2030 was today tabled in the National Assembly. In the foreword, President Ali said: “I hope that individuals, businesses, and organisations – in Guyana and across the world – will stay engaged. I also hope that all politicians in the National Assembly will recognise that the long-term ambitions contained in this LCDS 2030 are ambitions for Guyana, so deserve support and continued engagement. Because if we work together, we can advance development for all our people. We can also demonstrate to the world – but perhaps more importantly to ourselves – that our “one Guyana” is more than up to the task of achieving big things and creating a better future for all.”