Indigenous leader and President of the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA), who is leading a campaign in support of the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples in Guyana, is reported to have received death threats. See Amerindian Peoples Association press release, December 2010.
While the President of Guyana was named a “Champion of the Earth” by the UN earlier this year in relation to his efforts to secure international support for forest protection and “low carbon” growth, some indigenous leaders and civil society organisations both inside and outside the country continue to expose and challenge the deep contradictions in the government’s forest and climate plans. In June 2010, the President of the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) made a strong statement to the Sixth Participant’s Committee meeting of the World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) in Georgetown, asking why key land rights issues raised repeatedly by APA have still not been addressed in the Guyana Forestry Commission’s (GFC) latest REDD+ readiness proposals.
During May, the Norwegian Government announced that it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Guyana to contribute US$230 million towards the country's Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). It only remained to be decided which financial agency would act as the intermediary with the fiduciary responsibility to make sure the monies were handed over with due care. Would this be the World Bank and what standards would the World Bank follow to supply this money?
There are growing concerns about the poor consultation and engagement of indigenous peoples in discussions on major forest and climate initiatives and the potential risks for their rights. This March, indigenous people were excluded from a meeting in Paris to launch a French-Norwegian initiative on REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation - Plus); concerns have been voiced by Guyanese indigenous peoples with reference to the ongoing REDD+-Low Carbon Development (LCD) strategy process in their country; and the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) has been elaborating on their Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA) framework without clarifying how World Bank safeguards will be implemented.
Indigenous leaders, who chose to exercise their right to free speech as guaranteed in the Constitution of Guyana, are now being targeted by the government as a direct result of the public statement by participants at the Workshop on Indigenous Peoples' Rights, Extractive Industries and National Development Policies in Guyana. (See the public statement under related reports)Press Release issued by the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA)
At a week-long workshop on 'Indigenous Peoples' Rights, Extractive Industries and National Development Policies in Guyana' from 2-8 March 2010, the topics covered were: indigenous peoples' right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) and the extractive sector, the Government of Guyana's recent Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and REDD+ policies. Amerindian leaders shared their experiences of both public-sector and private development projects and proposals within their territories.