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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?

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?