Region One village leaders learn more about the LCDS

Georgetown, GINA, June 23, 2013

Village leaders from the Mabaruma and Moruca sub-districts, Region One were further enlightened about Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) over the weekend and have been urged to make decision to ensure their villages and the country as a whole continue to develop while at the same time conserve and protect forest resources.

Head of the Office of Climate Change, Shyam Nokta explaining the advantages of the Low Carbon Development Strategy to Guyana.

Head of the Office of Climate Change, Shyam Nokta during an outreach to the region told the residents that natural disasters like drought, flooding, increased rainfall and tornados are incidents that are occurring throughout the world, and are as a result of climate change. Guyana like many other countries is affected by changes in the climate.

“Man’s impact on the environment is the main contributor to the effects that we are facing globally… the unfortunate reality is that many of the countries who are feeling the effects are not the one’s that would have been the main contributors of this problem, and in particular poor developing countries, small island countries and low-laying coastal countries like Guyana we are the ones  that are feeling the effects now and unless we do something to address it the impacts from climate change will only get worse,” he said.

At the head table are Head of the Office of Climate Change, Shyam Nokta, Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai, Peter Persaud from The Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana and Member of the LCDS Multi-stakeholder Steering Committee, Ashton Simon.

Nokta indicated that the LCDS is based on two elements the first being how Guyanese  can transform their country’s economy (local and national) and promote social and how Guyanese can make a contribution to the world in addressing the issue of climate change. In this regard, recognizing the worth of Guyana’s forest alive than dead is critical.

It is also important to look at other alternatives of energy such as wind and water, which would leave a low carbon foot print while creating opportunities for men, women and youths.

A Mabaruma Sub-Region village leader making a contribution to the discussion.

“In a relatively short period of time from 2009 to now, Guyana have been able to have our voice heard at the international level…we have demonstrated that not because we are a small developing country we can’t come up with ideas that work but we have not only come up with an idea but we have put it into implementation and today we are starting to receive the benefits of that idea,” he said.

When the LCDS was launched in 2009, Guyana did not only receive a wide cross section of support locally but also international recognition the latter resulting in the partnership with the Kingdom of Norway.

Over time the LCDS has developed and has been recognized as a workable model internationally.

A Mabaruma Sub-Region village leader making a contribution to the discussion.

Thus far $115M US has been earned from this partnership. However, these are performance based. “Every year Guyana is subject to an external audit…technical agencies come in at the end of each year and they look at what Guyana has been doing in terms of implementing the LCDS and they also monitor our annual rate of deforestation…and I am proud to say that for three consecutive years now Guyana has performed successfully,” Nokta highlighted.

The funding earned is put towards projects outlined in the LCDS including the Amelia Falls, Hinterland Electrification and Community Development Projects.

Nokta acknowledged that the LCDS is faced with some challenges with the most noted one being the fact that if the world’s temperature gets any warmer, that is below 2 degrees, the world is headed for catastrophe.

“We would like to see more urgent action taken at the global level, political level and in particular by many of the developed countries who have to bear their fair share of responsibility for helping to address climate change but to also give us the support as developing countries so that we can also prepare ourselves and make a contribution to climate change,” he explained.

Nokta indicated that it is unfortunate that the financing for climate change at the global level is still a challenge.

A section of the gathering at the Climate Change awareness session in Moruca, Region One.

Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai in her presentation endorsed that climate change is a challenge nevertheless it also offers a transition of economies and provide opportunities for movements into a green economy.

She pointed out that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has also been partnering with the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs with regards to the Community Development Projects which are targeting 27 communities in the first phase. The experiences and lessons learnt from the project will be recorded and will be put to use when the other communities get on board. Some of the other projects include land titling and land demarcation, ICT and provision of solar power.

Minister Sukhai noted that while Guyana’s experiences vary from the rest of the world, what is outstanding is that Guyana is one of the fore runners in the fight against climate change. Importantly, the implementation and success of the project calls for the support of all Guyanese. The Minister also urged that youths be engaged in the process.

Opt-in mechanism

With regards to the opt-in mechanism, the Minister explained that the component has been crafted and sent to the villages, and at the last National Toshaos Conference (NTC) over 200 village leaders had signed a resolution however feedback from the village is required. Minister Sukhai urged that the village leaders sensitize their communities about the document prior to a decision being made about whether or not to opt-in.

The proposed  Opt-In Mechanism was raised in the May 2010 version of the LCDS and in 2011 an Opt In Concept Paper was considered by the Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee and presented to the NTC for review and to be provided to villages for their review.

The Opt In Mechanism presents an opportunity for those titled villages with forests to voluntarily include their forests, if they so wish, into the model and in so doing receive payments based on performance. This does not mean that if villages choose not to Opt In they will not get benefits under the LCDS. Amerindians and all Guyanese will benefit from the projects under the LCDS. Secondly, as with the LCDS process, the principle of free, prior and informed consent will apply to the Opt In Mechanism.

Member of the LCDS Multi-stakeholder Steering Committee, Ashton Simon indicated that earlier this month a group of 4000 scientists met and 94 percent of them have concluded that climate change is indeed occurring.

With regards to Guyana’s LCDS, he noted that the British High Commission and several countries, including Norway, have lauded Guyana’s efforts in the fight against climate change. He added that the LCDS has been recognized as a workable model however there are people who are trying to distract others from the thrust of the LCDS.

Simon encouraged the leaders to use their authority to choose between the right and wrong, and to ask questions when in doubt.

Peter Persaud from The Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana (TAMOG) stressed that for the Amerindians the LCDS should not be strange because of the way their ancestors have been treating the forests and its inhabitants.

Based on the fact that 85 percent of Guyana is forested, Persaud noted that climate change has an impact on food security as such the Amerindian people need to be responsible when dealing with climate change.