National Opt-in Mechanism being finalised

Guyana GINA, Wednesday March 8, 2017

The Ministry of the Presidency’s Office of Climate Change, today, held a seminar to engage stakeholders on the development and finalisation of a National Opt-In Mechanism package.

The Opt-In Mechanism package is part of Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) which was launched in 2009. The LCDS is a national strategy which seeks to create ‘a low deforestation, low carbon, climate resilient economy’ with the major.

objective  of  transforming  the  economy  while  combating  climate  change,  mainly  through  incentives to avoid deforestation.

Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock delivering remarks at the National Opt-in Mechanism seminar at Grand Coastal, Le Ressouvenir, East Coast Demerara

During remarks at the event which was held at the Grand Coastal Inn, East Coast, Demerara, Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock said that the seminar brought Guyana one step closer to finalising the National Opt-in Mechanism. “As Guyana waited for its birth, there were some anxious moments for the Indigenous Peoples. Those moments are almost behind us and we are well on the way to the establishment of the Opt-In Mechanism,” he explained.

The development of a National Opt-In Mechanism speaks directly to the rights of the Indigenous peoples, Minister Allicock noted.  Guyana is a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The National Opt-in Mechanism in its developmental stages acknowledges and demonstrates respect for the traditions, customs and practices of the indigenous peoples and targets among other things sustainable use of forest resources.

Minister Allicock explained that sustainable forest usage and conservation are perhaps what indigenous peoples are best known for.  “It is indeed a fundamental aspect of our culture and our tradition.”  The acknowledgement of the role of the indigenous peoples over the generations in this regard, is an important feature of the development of the mechanism.

“The Opt-In Mechanism when it is finally birthed will open the way for the further exercise of the right to self-determination by our indigenous peoples.  Pregnant with opportunities for the sustainable development of indigenous peoples’ villages and communities, it will challenge our people to become authors of their own developmental agendas,” Minister Allicock pointed out. This process in and of itself demonstrates government’s commitment to upholding its obligations to consult.

Participants of the National Opt-in Mechanism seminar at Grand Coastal, Le Ressouvenir, East Coast Demerara

Director, Department of Environment, Ndibi Schwiers said that this agreement complements the 2015 Paris Agreement, whereby countries like Guyana gained their commitment to take action to conserve and enhance bio-mass, forest, other greenhouse gases to reduce emission, deforestation and forest degradation.

As the stakeholders deliberated on the mechanism, Schwiers urged them to respond to the government’s new pathway for sustainable development. “It should take on a futuristic outlook; entail one where community may take on REDD+ activities, although they may not have forest on their lands. Some of the communities may derive their livelihoods link to adjoining forest lands, and these communities can play a major role in safeguarding our resources from potential infractions,” she said.

This is also in line with the Government’s green pathway for the sustainable development of the country, under the theme ‘Sustainable management of the natural resources’, Schwiers said.

Schwiers explained that when the theory was conceptualised a few years ago, as part of the country’s cooperation with the Kingdom of Norway, it represented another idea of safeguarding the wellbeing of forest communities, and at the same time protecting the forest. She said that the government’s green pathway strategy builds upon the LCDS.

Guyana’s partnership with the Kingdom of Norway, where a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in 2009 saw Norway committing to provide US$ 250M to Guyana depending on Guyana’s delivery of results as measured against indicators of enabling activities and of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus (REDD+).

Payments earned under the MoU were in support of  a number of key projects including renewable energy initiatives. Additional projects include the Amerindian Development Fund (ADF), Amerindian Land Titling (ALT), Micro and Small Enterprise Development (MSE), Climate Resilience Adaptation and Water Management, among others.

By: Synieka Thorne