Indigenous Communities to receive GYD $4.725 Billion from Carbon Credit Sales

Money being transferred in coming days
Villages will determine their own investment priorities

Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2030 made another major step-forward today, when the process to transfer revenues from carbon credits sales to indigenous villages and local communities began.

A total of GYD 4.725 Billion dollars will be transferred to over 200 villages and communities, for investment in village priorities as outlined in Village Plans put together by villages themselves.

This is the next step in a process of benefit-sharing that was put together throughout the seven-month national consultation on the LCDS 2030.

As set out in the LCDS 2030 (Chapter Two), revenues from the sale of carbon credits will be invested through a combination of (i) national and multi-community projects and programmes; (ii) a dedicated 15% of all revenues for investment in village plans, put together through village-led processes as set out in the LCDS 2030 (Chapter Two).

Initial receipts from the one carbon credit agreement completed to date will total US$150 million by the end of 2023 – with US$112.5 million already received and a further US$37.5 million to come in July 2023.

A total of G$4.725B (15% of US$150 million) was allocated for transfer to villages and communities. This number may increase as other agreements for the sale of the remainder of Guyana’s credits are concluded.

Ensuring a fair and equitable way to share these revenues across villages and communities was the topic of conversations between the National Toshaos’ Council and the Government. These discussions addressed considerations to achieve fairness across several factors were examined including size, tenure type, and population. 

As a result of these conversations, a structure of equitable benefits sharing was determined as the best way forward to effectively reflect the development needs of villages with village population being the main determinant.

Distribution across 240 communities is summarized in the table which accompanies this press release.

The list of areas will be reviewed annually to determine if additional areas are required to be added and to also reflect updated population totals.

Dedicated Bank Accounts set up to prepare for Village-Led Implementation

At today’s meeting, Toshaos started the process of establishing dedicated bank accounts for the receipt of all carbon credit revenues. These revenues will become accessible to villages and communities after village-led processes are completed to produce Village Plans in accordance with the Amerindian Act and the LCDS (Chapter Two). This is described in more detail below and in the LCDS 2030, but in summary, access to finance can commence after villagers have met to discuss their priorities and proof is provided that the village has approved priorities via a vote of majority of those present at the village meetings.

Village Plans and Outline Plans

Now that the benefit sharing mechanism has started implementation, and money is being transferred to village bank accounts as they are being set up, villages and community can opt in based on their village plans.

As outlined in Chapter 2 of the LCDS (page 44), Amerindian villages and communities will identify priorities for financing set out in their Village Plans or Outline Plans.  This will involve a process open to all adult residents as outlined in the Amerindian Act and in the LCDS 2030, where villages will be able to make their own decisions concerning Village Plans.

For those communities that already have Plans, these can be used for this purpose with immediate priorities identified.  Village Plans are to be endorsed by the Village Council in keeping with the Amerindian Act and submitted to the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs along with the Minutes of the Village General Meeting where the Plan was approved for use under the Benefits Sharing mechanism.  The Minutes of the Meeting should make reference to this intent and commitment. 

For those villages that have older Plans, these can be updated and priorities also identified. 

For those villages with no Plans, a brief (2 to 5 pager) Outline Plan can be developed and priorities identified.  The projects to be financed should support the social upliftment (health, education, and learning) and economic development including food security (earning and job creation) and of the villages, and be in keeping with the vision of the LCDS which is to protect the environment and forests.  The Outline Plan does not replace the need for a full plan and that should be undertaken as a next step. Annual Updates can be done to Plans as required by the Amerindian Act. 

In all cases, finance can be withdrawn once plans are submitted subsequent to the village-led process, including (i) documentation of a decision approved by a majority of those present at village meetings and (ii) minutes documented as appropriate.

Administrative Modalities

The following administrative modalities are recommended to be put in place to allow for the effective management of financing:

1. Dedicated bank account for carbon credits revenues per village/community/CDC that is separate from all other village finances

2. A finance committee should be established by each Council. Members of the committee may be appointed be elected or selected; and may include non-council members – all to be determined by each Council;

3. Village Plans should be updated if necessary and a list of priorities developed;

4. Village Registers should be updated;

5. Each Council should maintain income and expenditure statements, receipts and cash books to cover all transactions;

6. Villages/communities/CDCs should develop/maintain a filing system and good record keeping practices;

7. Project committees could be established for oversight/implementation of village projects (if desired);

8. Simple, standardized financial and status reports should be used

9. Communication: regular project updates should be provided;

10. Signed copies of the Minutes of Village meetings must be submitted with the list of priorities (and village plans);

11. Systems must be put in place to secure the funds and assets of the projects;

12. Notices and letters to committees should be maintained;

13. (Project) actions should be prioritized and agreed/discussed at village meetings;

14.  Among other areas.

NOTE: The list is subject to minor modification as new/updated information becomes available.