President Bharrat Jagdeo has expressed disappointment in what he described as a misleading reflection by some sections of the local media in their reportage of his comments in Cancun, Mexico about the release of the Norway climate funds to Guyana.
Speaking to members of the press at the Office of the President, the Head of State said, ‘the money is already paid into our bank account at the World Bank.’
On December 9, the Guyanese Head of State was part of a high level panel discussion on preserving the world’s tropical forest at the Avoided Deforestation Partners forum in Cancun, Mexico.
Included on the panel were Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, international philanthropist George Soros and President Obama’s Advisor on Energy and Environment, Joe Aldy.
Recalling his exact remarks at that forum, President Jagdeo said he noted that it takes more than a generous donor as in the case of Norway and a committed country as Guyana for a model to be successful.
“For the model to work, there are several other institutions that form part of the system including the World Bank, a financial intermediary institution… Norway has the money to deliver to Guyana; Guyana has the projects ready… I was making the point that it took us from September last year to now to negotiate what is basically the setting up of a current account which you can walk into a bank and set up in a day,” President Jagdeo said.
On October 10, the Guyana Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Investment Fund (GRIF) was established and the first payment from the Norway fund of approximately US$30M was processed.
GRIF is a financial mechanism for the ongoing cooperation on climate change between Guyana and Norway which the former will receive based on its performance on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD).
President Jagdeo was proud that Guyana is the first country in the world to prove that developed and developing countries could partner for the implementation of such a national scale model.
“All of those who were even saying before we went to Copenhagen, Guyana should not have gotten involved in Norway because Copenhagen may deliver more, it showed that Copenhagen slowed down the REDD initiative… it was the right decision we made because we locked in US$250M for this country even before Copenhagen,” President Jagdeo said.
It is envisaged that by early January 2011 the funds will be dedicated to the implementation of several projects in the area of adaptation and mitigation and technology transfers.
At the Avoided Deforestation Partners panel discussion Norwegian Prime Minister Stoltenberg referred to Guyana as one of three countries in the world leading the REDD+ initiative by example. He mentioned Brazil and Indonesia as the other two.
President Jagdeo was still confident about Guyana being the most advanced in developing the REDD + model.
“Even though Norway has just started a programme with Indonesia and they started a programme with Brazil ahead of us, it doesn’t go to the extent of establishing an entire REDD+ mechanism within the context of a low carbon development strategy,” President Jagdeo said.
Asked what will be the next step for Guyana to actually begin withdrawing the money President Jagdeo said such a move will follow the procedures set out by an established steering committee that will be examining several projects.
The projects which will be executed in the first phase include Amerindian land demarcation, solar panels and the establishment of grants funds for the transformation of village economies in Amerindian communities.
Guyana has been playing a lead role on the world stage with its Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) model and President Jagdeo credited the achievements to the contributions of the wide cross section of Guyanese who were instrumental in its creation.
He believes however that the burden on developing countries to finance such projects will be greater if there is continued failure on a globally binding agreement to stabilize global temperature.
Cancun as expected failed to deliver on such an agreement but President Jagdeo nevertheless pointed to areas that made some degree of progress including the fast start funding, financing mechanism, technology transfer, REDD + and a green fund.