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Action on land rights and FPIC are key to effective forest and climate initiatives - finds new APA and FPP special report on Guyana

Guyana has been a major proponent of international funding for avoided deforestation in tropical countries. In 2009 the government signed an MOU with the Kingdom of Norway under an agreement to reduce deforestation, pursue low carbon (non-fossil fuel) development and enter into negotiations with the EU on a trade treaty under the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) initiative. Almost five years after the signing of this bilateral agreement, how are indigenous peoples’ rights and local benefit sharing issues being addressed in Guyana’s land use, forest and climate policies?

Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) Press Release: Concerns with Amerindian Land Titling Project under the Guyana/Norway Guyana REDD Investment Fund (GRIF)

On Monday October 21, 2013 the Government of Guyana and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed a contract for the Amerindian Land Titling Project under the Guyana/Norway Guyana REDD Investment Fund (GRIF) arrangement. This signing took place during the opening session of the Seventh Annual Meeting of the National Toshaos Council and is heralded by President Donald Ramotar as fulfilling a promise made to the Amerindian people in the PPP’s manifesto. Campaigning? According to another government official Minister of Finance Ashni Singh, the project will give Amerindians control over the lands that belong to them. The project, according to the government is to facilitate the titling and demarcation of Amerindian lands. 

Durban COP 17: UNFCCC fudges decision on climate finance and makes little progress on REDD+ safeguard implementation

Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at their recent COP17 did not support performance indicators for reporting on the implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights in REDD+. However, they did recognise that REDD+ benefits have to go beyond carbon to include biodiversity conservation and support for local livelihoods.

Forest Peoples Programme, with a delegation of indigenous peoples from Guyana, Kenya, Cameroon, Suriname and Peru, attended preparatory negotiations and the 17th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Durban, South Africa, in late November/early December 2011. The main purpose of FPP’s attendance was to support the Indigenous Peoples’ Caucus and closely follow negotiations on REDD+ safeguards and finance. 

Lessons from the field: REDD+ and the rights of indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities

In October 2011, Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) conducted a survey of our local partners asking them to pinpoint key experiences and emerging lessons learned in relation to REDD+ and rights issues over the last three years. Partners who contributed include the Centre for Environment and Development (CED) and Association Okani (Cameroon), CEDEN (DRC), Foundation for the Promotion of Traditional Knowledge (Panama), Amerindian Peoples Association (Guyana), Association of Village Leaders in Suriname, Association of Saamaka Authorities (Suriname), AIDESEP (Peru), Federation for the Self-Determination of Indigenous Peoples (Paraguay) and Scale-up, Pusaka and FPP field staff (Indonesia). Observations and lessons are also drawn from workshops with local partners, field studies and issues stemming from indigenous peoples’ representatives in dialogues with national and international REDD+ policy-makers. Key observations and lessons are summarised below.

Guyana’s forest and climate plans continue to generate controversy and sideline indigenous peoples

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.

Guyana: indigenous peoples continue to be left out

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?

REDD+ discussions unfurl after Copenhagen

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.

Press Release - Guyana - Indigenous Peoples Demand Action on Land Rights, Consent Issues

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.