Eight problems with Norway’s REDD support to Guyana: Open letter to Erik Solheim

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Eight problems with Norway's REDD support to Guyana: Open letter to Erik Solheim

Next week, Erik Solheim, Norway’s Minister of the Environment & International Development, will be visiting Guyana. A year ago, Solheim congratulated Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo when he was awarded the United Nations’ 2010 Champion of the Earth. Solheim described Jagdeo’s promotion of low carbon development as “an example for others to follow.”

The letter, which is signed by members of civil society and two Members of Parliament, suggests that there are at least eight reasons why Solheim should perhaps revise his opinion of President Jagdeo and take a more critical look at Norway’s support for his Low Carbon Development Strategy. The letter recommends that Norway should not release any funds to Guyana on the grounds that Guyana has “substantially failed to implement the MoU, either in spirit or in practice.”

Open letter to Minister Erik Solheim, Minister of the Environment & International Development, Norway, 24 March 2011

Norway-Guyana Memorandum of Understanding, November 2009

Dear Minister Solheim,

In advance of your imminent visit to Guyana, we respectfully draw your attention to eight key problems with the operation of the Memorandum of Understanding between the governments of Guyana and Norway. The signatories of this letter include members of civil society with diverse backgrounds and two Members of Parliament who have followed developments in Guyana closely since signature of the agreement, and who are particularly familiar with some of the detailed local issues which are raised.

1. Delays in preparation of projects. Norway transferred US$30 million to the Guyana REDD-plus Investment Fund (GRIF) before Guyana had developed any ‘Low Carbon Development Strategy’-related proposals and before any attempt at independent verification of the claims from Guyana about progress in reducing forest carbon emissions. Months later, and in spite of criticism of donors by the President of Guyana, there is still only a single (draft) proposal on the table, a technically inadequate project for titling and demarcation of Amerindian lands forwarded by Partner Entity United Nations Development Programme, apparently without quality control and without significant participation by indigenous Amerindians themselves (see below, section 5). The Norwegian US$30 million now languishing in the GRIF and listed in the national budget of Guyana since mid-January 2011, together with an anticipated further US$ 40 million from Norway, comprises nine per cent of the Guyanese government’s budget for 2011. We believe that transferring the original US$30 million in advance of verified progress on the agreement with Norway sent quite the wrong signals to a country with daily allegations in the independent Press of corruption and malfeasance in government procurement and other expenditure.

2. Deforestation appears to have increased, not decreased. In an undated technical note on the Norwegian International Climate and Forest Initiative website – “Norway and Guyana – a partnership for reduced forest carbon emissions”[1] – it is stated that Guyana will be paid for its ‘performance’ in keeping deforestation below an agreed reference level, as well as avoiding any measurable increase in forest degradation. Guyana has made no explicit commitment to reducing or even stabilising its emissions of forest carbon. On the contrary, all construction schemes announced by the President involve extra emissions. Production and export of timber increased sharply in 2010, as proudly announced recently by the Minister of Agriculture.[2]

Because of technical deficiencies in the work of Poyry New Zealand and the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), it is not possible to make any definitive conclusions about the absolute rates of historical or current deforestation. However, even allowing for those technical deficiencies, the relative rate of deforestation in 2009-2010 appears to have increased three-fold, not decreased in comparison with the reference period.

3. Need for strong and consistent safeguards. The Memorandum of Understanding between Norway and Guyana originally stated that the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund, through which pass Norwegian payments for Guyana’s progress, would be subject to the World Bank’s ‘fiduciary and operational policies’. This requirement was subsequently dropped. No reason was given for this potentially serious weakening of ‘safeguards’. President Jagdeo has objected to the delays from the due diligence procedures of the World Bank. The President prefers to work with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), as shown by the transfer of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility ‘delivery partner’ to that agency from the World Bank. We suggest that Norway should be concerned by the switch to the IDB, which has provided much of the credit for a large recent increase in the country’s external debt, in spite of providing for a large HIPC-related cancellation of prior debt in 2007.

4. Weak participatory process. Unlike the process for the National Development Strategy (NDS) in 1995-6, the President’s Low Carbon Development Strategy has been an almost entirely in-house compilation, not linked to the NDS or even the President’s own National Competitiveness Strategy of 2006. The LCDS projects, apart from Amaila Falls, have no specific link to a low-carbon economy, nor have there been any conventional moves to reduce carbon emissions in the non-forested coastland where most of the economy is concentrated.

The MoU calls for the LCDS Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee (MSSC) ‘to ensure systematic and transparent multi-stakeholder consultations… to enable the participation of all affected and interested stakeholders…’ The MSSC, however, is dominated by the President, and is in no sense a forum for strategic debate about developmental options and determination of priorities. Nor is the LCDS linked to the national Poverty Reduction Strategy, which is supposed to be the guiding economy strategy but is a programme hardly ever mentioned by the Government.

An example of the lack of effective consultation and coordination is the two LCDS projects to install solar panels for low-wattage household electricity and to distribute a netbook/laptop to each family (OLPF). The MSSC did not apparently consider that the IDB is already funding a solar panel project. And the Press is carrying many articles about the chaotic decision-making in the President’s Office about the OLPF. Although the Head of the Presidential Secretariat has claimed (11 March) that there is a proposal submitted to the GRIF for the solar panels, such a document has not been posted to the LCDS/GRIF website. Nor has the Amaila Falls proposal been posted.

5. Indigenous Land Demarcation. Many confused and confusing announcements have been made by the Government of Guyana about land allocation to the indigenous Amerindians.

The titling of indigenous lands in Guyana is to be aided through the first draft project to be presented to GRIF by UNDP Guyana and the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs. However, there are serious concerns about the proposal because it does not address the basic problems. The proposal is based on the Amerindian Act 2006, which is incompatible with both the National Constitution and international standards, including instruments to which Norway is party. Absence of progress towards a national integrated land use planning policy and procedures, field tested in 1997 and then abandoned, also complicates a sustainable solution to Amerindian land claims. You will have heard about the discussions in the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility concerning the equivalence of environmental and social safeguards between those of the World Bank and those of Multiple Delivery Partners such as UNDP. If UNDP’s procedures are not as good as or better than the World Bank’s OP 4.10 safeguards for indigenous peoples, then it must be asked why the UNDP country office in Guyana is thought to be a suitable Partner Entity for delivery of a project concerning indigenous land tenure.

6. Risks of the Amaila Falls Hydro Project. The President of Guyana proposes to invest US$40-60 million of the Norwegian US$250 million ‘REDD’ money in purchasing equity in the Amaila Falls dam, even though the entire justification for the dam remains just 1½ pages in the LCDS version of May 2010. The Guyana Energy Agency national policy, not updated since 1994, does not even mention Amaila Falls. We note that just yesterday, Erik Helland-Hansen, head of the Advisory Expert Panel appointed by the IDB to assess the project’s environmental and social assessment, has reportedly called into question the ‘whole strategic concept’ of the project.[3]

There is no practical possibility of the unqualified, inexperienced and under-capitalised contractor, who was awarded the contract under questionable circumstances, completing the access road to the dam in the specified time period or to the specified road bearing strength, in spite of being loaned US$ 1.5 million from a government ‘off-the-book fund’ to buy second-hand construction equipment. This delay is even admitted by the Government’s own technical adviser.[4]

The access road construction is now less than 25% complete, whereas some 65% should have been completed, according to the original schedule. It is currently unlikely that the two Chinese investment entities, which are reported by the President to have committed to funding the dam, would provide the US$500 million for the bulk of the dam construction while the road is incomplete. Thus there is a large question mark over when, or indeed if, the dam will be fully funded and constructed, and if any Norway-provided equity in the dam would be effectively applied. As we understand it, the Amaila Falls project cannot be presented to the GRIF until such time as the project proposal has been approved by the Board of the IDB, and this cannot happen until such time as the Advisory Expert Panel has completed its work, which we understand will not be for 6 months or so. The project’s developer, Sithe Global Power LLC, has today admitted that there may be delays in securing funding for the project.[5]

There appears to be no ‘Plan B’ for using Norwegian 2009-10 money already in the GRIF, but remaining unspent, let alone any plan for alternative use of any additional funds for 2010-11. We therefore submit that the risk of misuse of these funds is unacceptably high. Under these circumstances, there appears to be little justification for transferring any funding for 2010-11, when the government’s primary intention for use of those funds (the purchase of government equity in the Amaila Falls dam) seems highly unlikely to become a reality in the near future.

7. Inadequate Independent Verification Report. The concept of independent verification of government declarations about progress is an innovation in Guyana, introduced by the MoU. Historically, donors have not found that reports by the Government of Guyana are sufficiently accurate. The MoU contains an unprecedented (and welcome) list of enablers (progress indicators). It is not surprising that the Government of Guyana has focused much more on getting hold of the money with a minimum of conditions than on delivering progress on the conditions.

Unfortunately it appears that the Norway International Climate and Forests Initiative did not specify how or by what criteria the evidence supplied by the Government should be evaluated. The verifier Rainforest Alliance appears, in its long-delayed report, to have ticked even the creation of non-functioning and government-dominated committees as evidence of ‘progress’, and confused government’s one-way outreach with ‘consultation’. Rainforest Alliance noted that activities submitted as progress were not necessarily related to the MoU conditions, and that evidence was not in the public domain and so not available to civil society. Such evidence could not therefore match the MoU requirement for transparency. The majority of interviewees reported by Rainforest Alliance were government staff, government-employed consultants, or government-co-opted civil society. Other interviewees, labelled by government without evidence as political opponents, unsurprisingly sheltered under anonymity from Guyana’s notoriously vindictive and threatening government. Rainforest Alliance applied a descriptive framework and used a set of observations which failed to assess the scale to which the enablers have been attained. We believe that the report thus failed the key objective of the verification exercise, i.e., ‘to verify the content of Guyana’s reports stating its performance according to the enabling activities under the Guyana-Norway partnership on REDD+, hereunder an assessment of whether the enabling activities have been conducted as described in the Joint Concept Note (JCN)’ (our emphasis). We believe that the Rainforest Alliance report represents an inaccurate and overly optimistic reflection of the progress of the Government of Guyana in complying with the terms of the MoU.

8. Restricted access to government information. Likewise, reports such as those of Cedergren on carbon and biomass assessment and Trevin & Nasi on legislation and compliance, both in 2009, and Poyry in 2011, show that Guyana government agencies are still highly resistant to independent assessments and have not opened documents, databases, maps and imagery for check assessments. Although this secrecy is entirely in accordance with the Government of Guyana approach to information disclosure – it has stubbornly refused to pass Freedom of Information legislation – it is not compatible with the MoU. In a country with an Executive President, it is absolutely the responsibility of that President to give effect to the independent monitoring which is mentioned in the LCDS several times, and thus to allow independent access to all relevant information.

In summary, we believe there is no present justification for the release of the Norwegian funds already in the GRIF, nor for transfer of a second tranche for 2010-11. The Government of Guyana has substantially failed to implement the MoU, either in spirit or in practice. However, it has not completely failed. Norway needs to have a more realistic appreciation of the real progress which has been made, even though small, and build on that. In particular, Norway should –

  • support civil society to reduce the disabling secrecy and corruption which this relatively huge amount of money inevitably attracts.
  • insist on and support a transparent and participative revision of the enablers, including independent advisers and civil society, in a process not dominated by the President or government agencies.
  • insist that all material which is not commercially confidential but which is relevant to the operation of this MoU should be in the public domain with minimal redaction and no tampering.
  • open the GRIF steering committee to representatives of the supposedly beneficiary populations.

Sincerely (in alphabetical order)

Diana Abraham
Malcolm Alli
Seelochan Beharry
Janette Bulkan
Tanya Chung Tiam Fook
Anand Daljeet
Everall Franklin, MP
Malcolm Harripaul
Christina Jardim
Tarron Khemraj
Allison Lindner
Colette McDermott
Alissa Trotz
Karen Jardim
Edward Meertins-George
Sharon Ousman-Arjoon
Christopher Ram
Khemraj Ramjattan, MP
Oma Sewhdat
Charlene Wilkinson
Fitzgerald Yaw
David Yhann


[1] ^ http://www.regjeringen.no/

[2] ^ http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/ 06 January 2011

[3] ^ Development Today Update – March 23, 2011, Norwegian expert questions justification for Guyana hydro dam, www.development-today.com

[4] ^ http://www.guyanachronicleonline.com/

[5] ^ http://www.stabroeknews.com/

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70 Comments

  1. a reminder
    both the road builder and the dam builder have NEVER completed ANY similar projects. as for the road builder he’s yet to prove he even paved a driveway
    sitting listening to Hertz was scary…we’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars in what’s looking more and more like a grand ponzi
    is anybody listening?
    ==
    Senior Vice President of Sithe Global, Rafael Herz, insists that his company can successfully build the Amaila Falls Hydro Electric Plant.
    He was responding to the fact that “Sithe Global” has never completed a hydropower plant and its only hydro electric project is the controversial Bujagali plant in Uganda.
    http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2011/03/25/sithe-global-executive-insists-company-can-build-plant/

  2. This letter summarizes excellently the concerns that many of us have had for 2 years and yet it seems that every week I read of new concerns Yesterday the gold mining company Guyana Goldfields announced the creation of Guyana’s first underground mine in the Guyana Shield area which will employ around 400 persons and will provide work for up to 10,000 indirect. The company estimate that the government would benefit from an increase in corporation tax of between US$ 250 – 400 million dollars and extra income tax of between US$ 220-250 million dollars over a 20 year period The company also indicated that they would be exploring for new deposits in an area near Aranka. (Seehttp://www.demerarawaves.com/read.php?.article=4100).
    It merely highlights the government’s indifference to the detailed consequences of managing a Low Carbon Development Strategy as they see further gold plated opportunities to exploit their resources locked in the rain forest.

  3. The above letter is a concise summary of the very serious issues with Norway’s REDD support to Guyana. As a Guyanese, it is with utmost reluctance I would advocate withholding any form of assistance to Guyana. However, the lack of transparency by the Guyana government and the very serious prospect of the GRIF funds being misappropriated by corrupt officials has led me to conclude that the above recommendation to withhold the release of the Norwegian funds in GRIF until the steps outlined above in the concluding summary of the letter are implemented would be a wise move.

  4. In a professedly democratic society I am against government secrecy when our God-given resources are at stake. All actions should be based on truth. The people of Norway and the people of Guyana deserve to know what is being done with their money and resources respectively.
    For the government of Guyana to merely inform us what they are doing is inadequate. They must give details and empower citizens to enquire to their satisfaction. I have personally found blocks to my enquires into the operations of Omai Gold Mines Ltd. Now this!

  5. we all need to keep singing with one voice. we need freedom of information, transparency and the involvement in Guyanese in the decision making of this govt. they are spending our money on questionable projects and enriching friends and family and we have nothing to show for the billions spent [that we know of] untold billions are being blown. president jagdeo is building a house that’s costing 200 million? 300 million? his pr man is building a 100 million dollar+ house with pool

    we have evidence that […]

    [R-M: The rest of this comment has been deleted – no evidence was provided for the allegations.]

  6. Guyana’s Office of Climate Change has issued a statement in response to this open letter. Perhaps not surprisingly (at least according to this article in the state-run Guyana Chronicle), the Office of Climate Change is keen to dismiss the letter: “The letter offers nothing new and nothing constructive … It does not deserve to be taken seriously,” comments the Office of Climate Change. Unfortunately, the response only highlights the seriousness of the problem.

    OCC dismisses open letter to Norway’s minister by anti-government elements

    Sunday, 27 March 2011 03:41
    – says letter is woefully short on facts and long on political rhetoric

    THE Office of Climate Change (OCC) in Guyana issued a statement last night, saying it has seen an open letter addressed to the government of Norway that was sent by a group of persons well known for their anti-government and destructive politics. According to the OCC, the letter is clearly written with the express intention of undermining the joint commitments of the governments of Guyana and Norway to an international effort to combat climate change through the funding of a low carbon development strategy for Guyana.

    It is understood that the letter is addressed to Norway’s Minister of Environment and International Development, Mr. Erik Solheim.

    “The letter is woefully short on facts and long on political rhetoric and, sadly, reveals a fundamental ignorance of the REDD+ model and its mechanisms,” the OCC stated.

    “It is instructive that the letter attempts to question the qualifications of the International Development Bank (IDB) and the United Nations Development Programme to serve as partner entities for the supervision of the implementation of the projects already funded and from which our Amerindian communities will be the direct beneficiaries,” the OCC statement added.

    It said the letter sets out to denigrate even the credibility of the international consultants such as the Rainforest Alliance responsible for evaluating the progress of the REDD Governance Plan and LCDS and the New Zealand based Poyry Forest Industry responsible for monitoring and verification of deforestation. The OCC also pointed out that “the letter offers nothing new and nothing constructive”.

    “It does not deserve to be taken seriously,” declared the local climate change body.

  7. The Guyana Chronicle accuses the letter-writers of being “short on facts and long on political rhetoric” – then continues with an article which contains not a single substantive rebuttal to the well-considered points in the letter, but plenty of political rhetoric and insults!

    It looks to me very much like Mr Jagdeo’s government has plain run out of excuses, an embarrassment which even his posse of ghost-writers in the Chronicle are only serving to highlight, rather than conceal.

  8. Show me one scientific fact in the Redd+ methodology (if there will ever be one) that Redd+ can reduce any emissions let alone a International effort to combat climate change.
    How can funding of a low carbon strategy do any more than give Norway under the table comfort.

    The questions put to the International Development bank a derivative to the World bank proposed Carbon Bank of their qualifications are reasonable , after all everything they have done regarding has been quite pathetic, look at their results at cop16 a complete joke.

  9. by normal Guyana Chronicle standards, this article is very short on vitriol
    i’ve not seen the press release but the lcds/office of climate change website has been offline for sometime http://www.lcds.gov.gy/

    members of civil society and concerned citizens are asking for a meeting with mr erik solheim when he comes to Guyana
    we’ll begin circulating a petition today

  10. Theodore Roderigues

    Only 8? there are much more. its a pity that officials like the minister will only be interact in the city. what about coming to the indigenous communities to hear first hand from the people themselves who have continuously been used by the jagdeo government. is it really true to say that the ‘amerindians’ stand to benefit from the draft land demarcation, the only project yet to be submitted? 40 million, jagdeo government says, is the amount it will cost to demarcate a community. Is this true? I heard this vibrant leader of the Amerindian Peoples Association say that they can do this demarcation for 1/2 of this amount or even less since they know their lands more than anyone else. whats more they the APA, I was made to understand, already did their own mapping.

  11. Janette Bulkan and her Civil Society group that wrote to Norway’s Minister of the Environment should be ashamed of themselves as Guyanese. Some of them worked with Iwokrama promoting the Conservation of our Forest and sustainable development and it is quite shocking that they want Norway to delay funding for our LCDS where our Forests are deployed to combat Global Climate Change. Shame on you wreched Conservationists and Cheap Politicians.

  12. Why is this Group of Guyanese wants Norway to stop funding the Low Carbon Development Strategy? Are they in there righted senses? Amerindian Villages in Guyana are also waiting on the Norwegian Funds to play its role in fighting climate change. The World Bank and IDB are also slow in giving it funds to Guyana. Now this group is making things worse for us the Amerindian People. But this group needs to be careful, it does not incur the wrath of the Amerindian People. Time will tell.

  13. @Arnold Thomas (#11) and @Jon Tilbury (#12) – Thanks for your comments. I can only suggest that you re-read the letter. The people who signed on to the letter are in favour of conservation of Guyana’s forests (see point 2 in the letter) and they are in favour of Amerindian rights and support to Amerindian villages (see points 4 and 5 in the letter). Their concerns are clearly expressed in the letter – and they make a series of recommendations aimed at making the Guyana-Norway Agreement more transparent.

    As @Theodore Roderigues (#10) points out, the list could have been a lot longer than eight problems. I think, in fact, the letter is actually pretty constructive (in contrast to the response from the Office of Climate Change). This paragraph is important (emphasis added):

    In summary, we believe there is no present justification for the release of the Norwegian funds already in the GRIF, nor for transfer of a second tranche for 2010-11. The Government of Guyana has substantially failed to implement the MoU, either in spirit or in practice. However, it has not completely failed. Norway needs to have a more realistic appreciation of the real progress which has been made, even though small, and build on that.

    So, while there is “no present justification” for release of Norwegian funds, the letter does not say that the money should never be transferred. Although the government has “substantially failed to implement the MoU,” the letter acknowledges that the government has made some progress (“even though small”). The letter concludes with four suggestions of ways in which Norway could build on this progress.

  14. Climate Change the world over is a living reality and has very dangerous
    consequences for the planet.Now a group of Guyanese citizens wants the government of Norway to delay Funding for the LCDS. What Madness. I do not think this Guyanese Group is loyal to the country and they all seem to be unpatriotic to the country of their birth. Who really are these people?

  15. I would like Norway to know that the Guyanese people generally support the LCDS and are awaiting on Funds for its implementation. The group that is calling on Norway to hold up the funding is not a civil society group as reported in the Stabbroek News, but more of a Political clique because there are known Politicians that make up this group who are vying for political Office.They want5 the LCDS to fail just to get cheap political popularity for the elections this year.It is time Norway ignore these Guyanese who are not patriotic to their own country and who want our country to remain poor while some of them live in the rich countries hiding behind their computers just to destroy our beautiful land.

  16. @Felix Henry (#14) and Sita Mangal (#15) – There are many other questions you could ask as a result of reading this letter, rather than (or perhaps in addition to) asking who the people are who have signed on to the letter.

    Just for starters:

    1. Could you explain how an increase in deforestation in Guyana is going to address climate change?

    2. Or how building a road through the forest to a hydropower plant will reduce deforestation?

    3. Or how the long list of projects on Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency website will help reduce deforestation and address climate change?

    4. Or how building a hydropower dam that has been in the pipeline for many years can in any way be considered to be additional?

    5. Do you believe that the Guyana-Norway agreement should be a transparent process that genuinely achieves reductions in deforestation and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions?

  17. A letter to the editor of the Guyana Chronicle (below) pushes the same line of argument – who are these upatriotic people? Of course, Guyana is not the only country in the world where political debate is based almost entirely on the ad hominem fallacy, but it is fascinating to see how consistently the people attempting to challenge this letter appear to have read little more than the list of the people who signed on to it. Could we perhaps have a discussion about the points raised in the letter?

    Blatant display of unpatriotic actions
    Written by L. DANIELS
    Tuesday, 29 March 2011 01:50

    WERE it not for the blatant display of unpatriotic actions and by extension, the deficiency in the willingness to see our country advance, the demonstration of bitterness and resentment by Janet Bulkan, Christopher Ram, Khemraj Ramjattan and others with insatiable appetites for attention would have been almost laughable. However, it is impossible for one to laugh in the face of such a disgraceful attempt by this group to involve Norway in their mediocre political scheme to stymie Government’s development efforts to the extent of being destructive.

    How does Ramjattan hope to gain political mileage from trying to influence the Norwegians to withdraw funding from Guyana which was already sealed in the agreement between the two countries?

    Apparently Ramjattan has never heard of the ‘ricochet’ concept, which I will now point out to him.

    If I were an AFC supporter and had read about Mr. Ramjattan’s involvement in this preposterous scheme, I would immediately review my political beliefs and loyalty, which I am sure would be very different from his, although he is supposed to be leading that party as its presidential candidate.

    It is crystal clear that Ramjattan’s political agenda and beliefs do not include the development of Guyana.

    Does the country need such petulant leaders? No!

    What about the Amerindians; what do they have to say about this spiteful and vindictive scheme to deprive them of much needed resources from the Norway funds that would provide a firm economic base for their communities’ development?

    I hope they will not take this action by Ramjattan and his fellow cronies lightly, but that they will speak out firmly against this destructive intervention.

  18. Chris Lang, why is your website committed to the destruction of the LCDS?
    It is sad when you people are seeking to deprive funds from Norway to guyana, a poor and developing country that is willing to fight the terrible effects of Global climate change, while it persues its development. Why is poor little Guyana being deprived from funding for making a vital contribution towards the safety of our world whichyou are apart of. It is also even more sad chris to learn that a group of Guyanese is calling on Norway to delay funding for our LCDS. Are there people trying to govern Guyana through the back door?

  19. @Sita

    Can you please explain exactly which “vital contribution towards the safety of our world” you believe Guyana is making?

    As the independent Poyry report for the governments of Noway and Guyana has shown, deforestation is steadily on the increase, and was three times higher than the historical level during the first year funding was received from Norway. The recent allocations of logging, mining and farming concessions, plus the developments connected with the Amaila Falls dam, will all serve to increase deforestation still further.

    I don’t think anyone is against Guyana being supported to genuinely reduce destruction of and damage to its forests, nor to set itself on a path towards low-carbon growth. But this is self-evidently not what is currently happening. REDD-Monitor is not to blame for this: President Jagdeo’s government is.

    By the way, do you happen to know the figure for how much money is lost to “poor little Guyana” every year through illegal mining and smuggling of gold and diamonds (which could easily be stopped), through tax breaks and low ‘rents’ charged to foreign logging companies (in deals which the government itself set up) and loss of foreign aid through theft and corruption?

  20. i’m still waiting for someone to explain the many roles of shyam nokta [ceo office for climate change] which finds him lobbying for funds with the president then collecting funds through his company emc Guyana doing consulting for the office of the president
    the role of his father as ‘environmental advisor’ in the office of the president seen trailing eric solheim and jagdeo at the signing ceremony

    [R-M: A paragraph was removed – nelly avila provided no evidence in the comment to back up the claims made.]

    i expect more vitriol and no facts as the cyber team kicks into high gear trying to flood out the facts and truths with diversion, hot air and threats. veiled and otherwise…that’s how they do it here in Guyana

  21. Concerned Guyanese

    Maybe for those who thinks that the individuals who signed the above letter are unpatriotic this letter by Christopher Ram is a timely reminder of how the PPP Government has STOLEN billions from the Amerindians who are supposed to be the beneficiaries of the Norwegian funds, however, the only persons who have benefitted from such ‘windfall’ are cronies of the PPP cabal.
    ___________________________________________

    Amerindians cheated of billions
    SEPTEMBER 8, 2010 | BY KNEWS | FILED UNDER LETTERS

    Dear Editor,

    A GINA release in early March 2008, reported that the new Amerindian Act, 2006, passed on February 16, 2006 and assented to by the President on March 14, 2006 had “paved the way for Amerindians to empower themselves socially, economically and politically.” Further, and A as a measure of its pride in the Act, under Ms. Carolyn Rodrigues, the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, under Ms Carolyn Rodrigues, expended considerable sums on the publication of user-friendliness (user friendly??) booklets for distribution to Amerindian communities.

    And as recent as August 19, 2010, PPP/C MP Norman Whittaker boasted that the PPP/C government has consistently followed the provisions of the 2006 Amerindian Act. When all things are considered, maybe Mr. Whittaker was being more careful than anyone at that time thought. Because there is one small – to some significant – problem: Four years after its assent, the Act is yet to be brought into force. Effectively then, the 1951 Amerindian Act Cap: 29:01 described by Minister Rodrigues in 2005 as “outdated and [does] not address the needs of Amerindian communities” remains in force.

    I find it hard to believe that this was any innocent oversight by the Amerindian-loving Government, if there is such a thing. After all, for more than three years, there were three Amerindian MP’s in the Cabinet. At every opportunity, whether it is in the “Cabinet Outreaches”, in the National Assembly, in national and international press conferences, and to the Norwegians, the government never ceased to showcase the Act as evidence of the progressive legislation it has passed to cater for the rights/needs of our indigenous peoples. Now it seems that is all a deception, a sham, a façade, propaganda cynically disguised.

    The reason why the Act has not been brought into force is that it creates an obligation on the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) to “transfer 20% of the royalties from mining activities to a fund designated by the Minister for the benefit of the Amerindian villages”. The financial statements of the GGMC show that mining activities has garnered more than eight and one half billion dollars since June 2006. The failure to bring the Act into force has, therefore, deprived Amerindian communities of approximately one point seven billion dollars ($1,700,000,000).

    Maybe this is all innocent. Maybe it is a mere co-incidence that during the same period, the GGMC has transferred one point eight billion dollars ($1,800,000,000), to the national slush fund – NICIL – whose mis-spending, if ever it were ever to become known, would be more interesting than the financial shenanigans of ENRON.

    This is Amerindian Month this is a test of the sincerity of the Government. The onus is on it to prove that it does not consider the Amerindians as naïve and gullible, ready to give up their legal right to $1.7 billion dollars in return for a few outboard engines here, some chain saws here and there, and trips for its leaders to come to Georgetown to perform for the modern day Caesars, or to go on window-dressing trips to Norway. This is a test, too, of the multiplicity of Amerindian organisations, politicians across parties and civil society activists.
    They should stand up and let the Amerindians know where they are on this latest blatant example of official pillage and plunder; and deception, too. Silence is not an option.

    Christopher Ram

    http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2010/09/08/amerindians-cheated-of-billions/

  22. While forcing the administration to subscribe to the GRIF … rather than just dump the funds into Mr. Jagdeo’s hands … was a good start, the Open Letter to Solheim seems to to be the first patriotic group-effort to go further in urging Norway and its international partners to address the systemic issues of corruption and destructive governance initially outlined in the online article “Greed, Genocide … and now ‘Green’: Corruption and Underdevelopment in Guyana” (http://www.scribd.com/doc/17958657/Greed-Genocide-and-now-Green-Corruption-and-Underdevelopment-in-Guyana ).

    The sad reality, regrettably, is that Guyana is still staggering under the quadruple burden of a crisis of leadership, racism, corruption and fascism … and that Norway and its international partners … may be accommodating the status quo for breasons best known to themselves!

    Is Mr. Solheim capable of the statesmanship, humanity and wisdom necessary to rise above the morass of deception, corruption and fascism that has further polluted the Guyanese landscape since LCDS? Is he capable of saying to Mr. Jagdeo that Norway will no longer be associated with common and loutish thievery?

    The group signing the Open Letter should approach the people of Norway directly … should Solheim not consider, acknowledge, and act upon the abundance of evidence placed before him!

    So one last question:

    Mr. Solheim, what, exactly, has since changed from the position as outlined in the online article “Greed, Genocide … and now ‘Green’: Corruption and Underdevelopment in Guyana” (http://www.scribd.com/doc/17958657/Greed-Genocide-and-now-Green-Corruption-and-Underdevelopment-in-Guyana )?

  23. Chris. The group of unpatriotic Guyanese who wrote to Norway’s Minister of the environment and International development for a delay in funding Guyana’s LCDS should cover their heads in shame. They have nothing to do but to engage in dirty actions to stifle the growth and development of our poor country Guyana.But while this group claims to be a “Civil Society Body’ it is not. since it has politicans in its fold who are aspiring for political office at the upcoming Elections this year. The group is therefore a contiminated group and is by now defunct with Janette Bulkhan trying to survive like a drowing rat.The loose grouping asked, how an increase in deforestation in Guyana is giong to address Climate Change? Guyana’s deforestation rate according to Poyry report is 0.056. Almost close to zero. Historically countries like Guyana have been able to maintain an extremely low deforestation rate and high forest cover. As far as I understand, for REDD+ to work,it has to establish a global reference level which could be attractive to both high deforestation and low deforestation countries.In the case of Guyana, such a level should be close to historic as possible but also for some “Space” whereby Guyana can continue to have forest activities including logging, infrastructure,agriculture.I believe that is what Norway and guyana are trying to do in the absence of such a global mechanism. If as you and others are interpeting REDD+ as shutting down the forests it clearly cannot work because people still need to use the forests for their livelihood.The group asked, if building the road through the forest to a hydropower Plant will reduce deforestation? Building a road through the forest is a necessary part of the hydropower project. The hydro will replcae almost 90% of guyana’s fossil dependency for Guyana and putting the country on a clean energy path.As far as I am aware this long term benefit far outweights the clearence for the road which I am told will be minimal.The local Amerindian communities of Kaburi are excited about the road and even wanted it to pass through their community.The group asked if the long list of projects on Guyana’s environmental protection agencg website would help reduce deforestation and address Climate Change? Chris, there seems to be an effort to shift the burden of Climate change action to developing countries.Have the developed countries stopped their projects? Is the UK closing down its power plant. stopping the manufacture of sale of cars, cutting back on its factories?In fact the developed countries have failed in their commitments to reducing green house emission.Failed. Having the historic responsiblity for Climate change by their own development choices and actions, they are not prepared to even make good on the commitments they made through the Kyoto Protocol.And now you and the developed world want to tell small developing countries like Guyana not to implements its progects.Projects will benefit its people. What double standards and hypocrisy.Chris, in the absence of deep emmission cuts from the developed countries how does the International community meeting the IPCC targets? REDD seems to be the only window of opportunity and the majority of forest remain where? In developing countries yet we see a concerted effort by REDD monitor and others to shoot down every REDD effort being made, just look at your articles. REDD which has perhaps the best opportunity to reduce deforestation and address Climate change is being shot down by you chris, and your ilk.So tell us,WHAT BRIGHT SOLUTIONS DO YOU HAVE FOR ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE? Building a Hydro power dam that has been in the pipeline for many years can in any way be considered to be additional? Every country has a right to pursue its own energy policies and where that envolves embracing renewable energy it should be supported.Why the US does not shut down its coal plants and move to renewable energy? Also, in light of all the safety issues regarding the Japan nuclear plant,why the UK and others do not shut down theirs because of risk of safety to human populations?Will they ever do that?No,I don’t think so.SO STOP THE LECTURES ABOUT HOW GUYANA SHOULD PURSUE CLEAN ENERGY.Do you believe that the Guyana / Norway agreement should be a transparent process that genuinely achieves reductions in deforestation and reductions in green house gas emissions? I strongly support this.In fact, I am overwhelmed at the amount of information coming out from this process.Its been one of the most open and transparent processes on climate change anywhere.Chris,can you say how this is done in the UK? Did your government had nation/wide consultations on their Climate Policies and strategies? I remain confident that Guyana / Norway partnership will work and the results from the independent verification will be there for all to see.So Chris and company, stop being so bitter and critical about everything. Give credit and support where its due.But I guess that’s beyond some people.

  24. @Peter Persaud (#23) – I’ll try to take this point by point. But before doing so, I think it’s interesting to note that you share the same IP address as @Arnold Thomas (#11), Jon Tilbury (#12), @Felix Henry (#14) and @Sita Mangal (#15), and that you are all making more or less the same arguments – none of which are arguments about the content of the letter.

    1. Anyone who criticises government policy in Guyana is labelled unpatriotic. You could just as well describe them as patriotic for attempting to create a transparent process that might be less prone to corruption.

    2. If you look closely, the post above states that the letter was “signed by members of civil society and two Members of Parliament.”

    3. You write that the “loose grouping asked, how an increase in deforestation in Guyana is giong [sic] to address Climate Change?” In fact, the question did not come from any loose grouping, but from me – in comment #16 above.

    At no point has REDD-Monitor ever suggested that the “shutting down” of the forests – REDD-Monitor is very much in favour of local communities and indigenous peoples having the right to make their own decisions over the management of their natural resources.

    One of the extraordinary things about Guyana’s forests, it seems to me, is that there are several very large logging concessions, run by companies with something of a reputation for destroying forests in other parts of the world. Yet the rate of deforestation, as you point out, remains extremely low. Could it be that we need to look in detail at the impact of these logging companies on the degradation of Guyana’s forests?

    4. We have discussed the Amaila Falls dam following another post on REDD-Monitor. I’d be grateful if you could answer the questions that I asked back then.

    5. I agree with you that there is an effort to shift the burden of climate change action from the rich countries to the Global South. REDD is part of that shift. As REDD-Monitor has pointed out repeatedly, REDD is popular with Northern governments and polluting companies because they can pay countries in the South to reduce their emissions from deforestation and forest degradation rather than reducing emissions at home. You are absolutely correct to point out that the UK should be closing down its polluting coal-fired power plants and that the North has completely failed in reaching any agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Please read my comment on whether the Cancun Agreements will help address climate change? which attempts to make this point.

    7. You ask what bright suggestions I have for addressing climate change. The answer is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels. The countries with the historic responsibility for the most emissions are the ones that should reduce most dramatically and most quickly.

    Reducing deforestation and forest degradation is also important but any emissions saved there cannot be traded off against continued pollution elsewhere, if we are serious about stopping runaway climate change.

    8. I agree that any country has a right to pursue its own energy policies. But that does not make a hydropower dam that has been in the pipeline for years additional. Nor does it necessarily make it environmentally friendly.

    9. I’m very reluctant to defend the UK government on almost any issue, but the UK does at least have a Freedom of Information Act.

    10. You ask me (and others) “to stop being so bitter and critical about everything” and to “give credit and support where its due.” It’s funny that you should choose to end your comment on this note, because that’s exactly the same note that the letter to Erik Solheim ends on (see comment #13, above).

  25. Khemraj Ramjattan

    Peter I want it to be known that my support and signature to this now ‘famous’ letter to Erik Solheim was never to block funds to the Guyanese people; nor, more particularly Amerindians. I did so because the contents were an honest assessment of the status quo which ought to be brought to the attention of the Norwegians coming here. Indeed I am a politician. But I have to say you are tenfold more political in your outburst here that me. I will defend your right to so be. But appreciate mine in the same breath. Why not debate the message? Why pounce on the messengers?
    Your attitude reminds me of the Gov’t handling of the issue on the Old Age Pensioners arrangement recently, when my political colleague Ms. Sheila Holder did anextrapolation from information provided by the Government. Her deductions revealed the probability that Guyana may not have 44,000 pensioners who are receiving their monthly pensions; rather, it was in the vicinity of 30,000. Her request was that an investigation be done otherwise it could mean the loss of approximately $12 m per month.
    She and myself were pilloried by OP and the Gov’t for wanting to deny 15,000 pensioners their pensions! How outrageous! What we really wanted was an increase of pensions which will be realised if the scam could be uncovered. No, said the Minister and President. When we asked that the 44,000 names of the pensioners be published in the website of either the Ministry or the Office of the President, both Minister and President went silent and have refused to publish. Why? There is tremendous suspicions now as regards those benefitting from this $12m.
    In like manner, as concerning the pensioners, was my motivation to sign on to this famous letter. At the end of the day I want us Guyanese and especially you Amerindians, to get the best deal with what will be forthcoming.
    Khemraj Ramjattan

  26. Here’s a letter from Peter Persaud to the editor of the Guyana Chronicle. Persaud’s commentary shows no evidence whatsoever that he has taken the trouble to read the letter to Erik Solheim:

    So-called civil society group hell bent on undermining LCDS

    Written by PETER PERSAUD
    Wednesday, 30 March 2011 01:10

    I wish to refer to an article in the Stabroek News under the caption: “Gov’t has substantially failed to implement forest saving agreement with Norway, says Civil Society members” in its issue of Monday, March 28. Also in the Kaieteur News under the caption “Group wants Norway to delay payment to Guyana” in its issue of Monday, March 28. Kindly allow me to raise the following points:

    1. The devil is at work. The devil is like a roaring lion seeking to only destroy. The so-called civil society grouping that wrote to Norway’s Minister of the Environment and International Development calling for a delay in payments of the money under the MOU signed between Guyana and Norway is the devil at work.

    2. The Stabroek News called this grouping a “civil society body’, while the Kaieteur News referred to the grouping as merely “The group.” Both of the independent dailies are wrong. The ‘body’ is a loose grouping and it is not a ‘civil society group’ since the group is saddled with opposition politicians and environmentalists with political objectives.

    3. The fact that global Climate Change is occurring and has catastrophic effects, this loose grouping of so-called environmentalists and politicians are hell bent on sabotaging the genuine partnership between Norway and Guyana.

    4. This political grouping masquerading as a ‘civil society body’ and under the leadership of Janette Bulkan wants the LCDS to fail and is working towards this hideous cause for cheap political mileage for the upcoming general elections. This is what Norway needs to know.

    5. A civil society body does not have politicians in its membership and the ‘civil society body’ that wrote to Norway’s Minister of the Environment and International Development to delay payment for Guyana’s LCDS is therefore not qualified to be a civil society body since it has a political membership which is affiliated to the Alliance for Change (AFC) political party. This is what Norway needs to know.

    6. The fact that Janette Bulkan’s group is a political grouping, it can therefore in no way represent the interests of civil society in Guyana.

    7. Given that Janette Bulkan’s political grouping comprises ‘environmentalists’. What really is their justification for calling for a delay in payments for Guyana’s LCDS from Norway, when they claim to be believers in Forest Preservation?

    8. The call by Janette Bulkan’s political grouping for a delay in payments under the MOU signed between Guyana and Norway for forest preservation in November 2009 is therefore definitely political, since Guyana’s deforestation rate is below 0.45 per cent. So what is the big hullabaloo about by Bulkan’s political clique claiming to be a civil society body?

    9. It appears that Bulkan’s political clique calling itself ‘civil society’ wants to own and control the Norwegian funds for Guyana’s forest protection scheme, since it wrongly accuses the government of Guyana of secrecy and corruption when they lack evidence to back their claims.

    10. What is even more blatant by this anti-national and unpatriotic political clique lead by Bulkan is that they are going against Amerindians receiving titles to their lands as well as Amerindian land demarcations and extensions. What manner of ‘civil society body’ is this? Their wicked call to delay funds from Norway will therefore definitely hurt Guyana’s Indigenous peoples who are presently concerned about the extremely long delay in the releasing of these funds for their participation in Guyana’s LCDS.

    11. Norway needs to know that Guyana’s indigenous peoples are concerned over the actions of so-called civil society groups that seek to destroy Guyana’s LCDS and deprive them of resources for their development while they participate in the LCDS.

  27. @Chris

    We can only applaud your commitment to transparency and fair debate, by posting critical comments and articles, and responding with substantial answers to questions put to you by critical voices.

    Which is very different, of course, to what happens in Guyana. This is especially true of the absurd Guyana Chronicle government propaganda channel, and people who use it to promote theirs and the government’s view, such as Peter Persaud. I note that Persaud has still failed to answer questions about what exactly is his supposedly Amerindian organisation ‘TAAMOG’, who funds it, what it does, who it represents, how it is governed etc. By writing poisonous letters in the Guyana Chronicle questioning the legitimacy of ‘civil society’ critics of the Jagdeo government’s performance (as well as of ‘devilry’ and ‘unpatriotism’), he once again shows himself to not only be nothing but a government lackey, but also a shameless hypocrite.

  28. oh peter persaud never fails to amuse. which is all he can do or try to. playing his role well for the govt i.e Amerindian leader. Amerindian people would never in a million years elect for a non-Amerindian to represent our interets

    i read his 11 point knife attack on our dear Janet Bulkan last night and couldn’t help but wonder if this was the ‘official response’

    i think it was in the heat of macartyism someone told ole senator joe sir don’t you have no shame? 50 yrs might have passed but it still holds through today

    Chris thanks for exposing this man [not that you needed to] and his multiple aliases which if you’ve been following the govt of Guyana and how it operates that is Standard Operating Procedure
    peter persaud and his friends in govt are blind to the wishes of the people and by using lies & intimidation they’re accustomed to getting their way
    Guyanese and hopefully the international community are FINALLY waking and doing something about these folks and their dirty games
    they just want money that’s all

  29. I believe that the significance of the Open Letter is in danger of being lost in the tonnage of verbiage that inevitably followed its publication! While I lament the absence of other names in the list of signatories, who can deny its factua; basis?

    In the end, the issues will be simple ones:

    Is Mr. Solheim capable of the statesmanship, humanity and wisdom necessary to rise above the morass of deception, bribery, corruption, racism and fascism that has further polluted the Guyanese landscape since LCDS?

    Is he capable of saying to Mr. Jagdeo that Norway will no longer be associated with common and loutish thievery, or the utter disregard for the lives … and livlehood .. of significant segments of Guyana’s population?

    An inescapable conclusion:

    The group signing the Open Letter should approach the people of Norway directly … should Solheim not consider, acknowledge, and act upon the abundance of evidence placed before him!

    So one last question:

    Mr. Solheim, what, exactly, has since changed from the position as outlined in the online article “Greed, Genocide … and now ‘Green’: Corruption and Underdevelopment in Guyana” (http://www.scribd.com/doc/17958657/Greed-Genocide-and-now-Green-Corruption-and-Underdevelopment-in-Guyana )?

    Its sequel will reveal that … the situation in Guyana has deteriorated even further!

  30. A letter from David Yhann, one of the signatories to the letter, to the editor of the Kaieteur News:

    Rejecting an ‘unfounded’ attack

    March 30, 2011

    Dear Editor,

    I refer to an article in the March 28, 2011 edition of the Kaieteur News entitled ‘Group wants Norway to delay payment to Guyana’.

    The Office of Climate Change (OCC) is quoted as having referred to the signatories of the open letter to Minister Solheim as “a group of persons well known for their anti-government and destructive politics.”

    As a signatory, I wish to register my indignation at this unfounded and unwarranted attack.

    As a Guyanese who has consistently worked over the years in whatever little way I could to contribute positively to Guyana’s development, I resent that a state agency would wish to vilify citizens for their legitimate comments, instead of welcoming their involvement and seeking to address their concerns.

    From the word go, the government has been touting the importance of ‘citizen participation’ in the LCDS, which, by the way, I support and endorse in principle.

    A key point made in the letter is that the funds should not be disbursed until the appropriate safeguards and mechanisms, as envisaged by the MOU, are in place and functional.

    I ask: What can be the difficulty with this? There should be no higher priority than to ensure that the money is spent in such a way as to yield the maximum benefit of the stated objectives.

    I take this opportunity to appeal to the OCC to reflect on the points raised in the letter and to take steps to ensure that every effort is made to open space for every Guyanese to innovate, participate, and contribute to the delivery of the LCDS’s objectives.

    In this way, I am confident that the resources being made available by Norway can be leveraged by Guyana, especially the private sector, to multiply the impact several fold.

    David Yhann

  31. Chris, my humbly apologies for not responding promptly to your questions since I had a tight schedule.
    1. With the coming into reality of Guyana’s Hydropower plant it is obvious that there will be a reduction of emissions since the plant will replace almost 90% of Guyana’s fossil dependency putting Guyana on a clean energy path. You yourself know this. As a prophet of doom of Guyana’s LCDS you provide to me your calculations to prove me wrong.
    2. The latest update on the environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) prepared for Amaila Falls Hydro Inc revealed clearly that no Amerindian village or community in the project area voiced their opposition to the building of the Hydro power plant. In fact Kaburi village wanted the access road to pass through thier village.
    3. Transperancy is a known characteristic of Guyan’a LCDS.
    4. Stop being negative about Guyana’s LCDS and give your support to Guyana’s actions to combat global Climate change in partership with Norway.

  32. Chris, “Nelly Avila” is afraid of the truth and prefers to sprew lies and trash about Guyana to deceive the world. But very soon the People of guyana will prove her wrong and all that she can say to herself is that she wasted her time. Can you imagine “Nelly Avila” refused my invitation to take him / her to two remote hinterland Amerindian communities where I grew up to prove to her my Indigenous legitimacy and attachment? So “Nelly Avila” does not want to hear the truth about my ligitimate Indigenous background.
    She / He is a coward.

  33. Eric Solheim is meeting with Opposition parties, Civil Society and NGOs on friday in Georgetown. location not yet announced

    in closing, the time has long past for proving Indigenous legitimacy and attachment and i didn’t come to this site looking 4 a man nor a date in the bush with paid a agent provocateur
    sincerely,
    legitimate & attached since birth

  34. The responses by Peter Persaud are anything but “fascinating” … and reflect an instinctive avoidance of the truth … however polished and sanitized as in the Open Letter. I am as astonished at the patience and courtesy of Lang as I am by Peter’s classic use of the ad hominem argument!

    Peter’s responses will surely get shorter and shorter as this thread proceeds … for obvious reasons!

    Now, we should focus … and again ask both Mr. Persaud and Mr. Solheim to answer four important questions:

    1. Isn’t it clear that LCDS however conceptualized was never intended to be … or going to be … the slam-dunk for “corruption-as-usual” as, say, the past years of Auditor-General Reports have been? And lest we all fall for the dubious compromise already being signalled by Mr Yhann at (30) above, why is everyone ignoring the further detail and complexity alluded to by Patrick Pereira ( http://www.stabroeknews.com/2010/opinion/letters/01/06/patrick-pereira-speaks-out-on-mou-with-norway/ )? The LCDS as currently conceptualized and executed does not only affect Amerindians, but has the potential to negatively affect an amount of citizenry many times larger than the total Amerindian population! As Pereira implies, the Open Letter should be a start in addressing much more than the dubious amount of LCDS-dollars that will eventually trickle down to Amerindians and the private sector!

    2. Shouldn’t the civil-society group, given their understandable concern over the progression of events given their very logical observations … not now ask Mr. Solheim to declare formally that he has no personal interest … financial or otherwise … in the movement of LCDS-funds to Guyana?

    We had asked similar questions of Mr. Jagdeo at the time of the Badal/Jagdeo hiatus over the Pegasus … and urged the President to make a formal statement about his non-involvement (financial or otherwise) in the Marriott venture (http://www.stabroeknews.com/2010/news/stories/07/24/badal-afraid-of-marriott-jagdeo/ ). No response was forthcoming! Christopher Ram’s “The Case for the Marriott Hotel” ( http://www.chrisram.net/?p=488 ) only heightened our concerns in that regard!

    3. Why isn’t the civil-society group not now considering lobbying the Board of directors of the IDB on this issue? And every one of its member countries? Surely other nations would love to have IDB-brokered funds with as little scrutiny or attention to oversight?

    4. Mr. Solheim, what, exactly, has since changed from the position as outlined in the online article “Greed, Genocide … and now ‘Green’: Corruption and Underdevelopment in Guyana” (http://www.scribd.com/doc/17958657/Greed-Genocide-and-now-Green-Corruption-and-Underdevelopment-in-Guyana )? Can you afford to ignore the intensity of this national dialogue, and still be credible in the eyes of those observing your actions?

    Its sequel will reveal that … the situation in Guyana has deteriorated even further!

  35. Members of the Multi stakeholder steering Committee ( MSSC) of Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy ( LCDS) on Wednesday criticised a group of persons who, in a letter to the government of Norway
    this very diversified committee members are:

    1. head of the Climate Change Unit of the Office of the President, Shyam Nokta [travels with jagdeo, has company that consults for office of president, epa & many others. did work ‘consulting on Amaila Falls project as well. father former minister also works in office of pres. as ‘environmental consultant’];

    2. Head of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana ( FITUG), Carvil Duncan [man who regularly says bharrat jagdeo is one of the greatest men of all time and a rabid attack dog let loose on anyone who criticises anything the govt does];

    3. Head of the National Toshaos Council, Yvonne Pearson [put in the position by govt and regularly travels with jagdeo on excursions overseas. forced Amerindians leaders to sign paper saying her govt created organisation is the only one allowed to speak on officially behalf Amerindians on any issue locally or internationally leaders speaking out were openly threatened and punished];

    4. and Amerindian Affairs minister Pauline Sukhai. [member of the ruling party who believes the greatest thing that ever happened to Amerindians is this govt]

    so as you can see, this is a very diverse grouping of leaders from multiple sectors with nothing but the interest of the govt Guyanese on their minds at all times

  36. “Nellie Avila’s” conceptualisation of my proposed invitation to take her/ him to two Amerindian Villages to prove to her my Indigenous legitimacy and attachment is woefully regretable. Her reference to the “Bush” and the tone in which it was used reveals clearly that “Nellie Avila” is not an Indigenous person she claims to be. But lets say “Nellie Avila” ia sn Indigenous person his / her reference to “the bush” indicates that she / he has lost her / his culture and has
    adopted the culture of another ethnicity which is also woefully sad. In this context “Nelly Avila” has a problem with identity and as a result is unleashing her frustration in the whole LCDS discourse.

  37. yaaaawn…what’s next? my family will be evicted from their land by peter persaud and his mysterious Amerindian organisation?
    what part of no don’t you understand? i dont go anywhere with men i do not know and i’ve been to the northwest many times and will continue to do so at my own choosing

    to my brothers and sisters in the bush who wont be able to make it tomorrow we’ll do our best to represent your interests and all of our interests to the visiting minister.

  38. @Peter Persuud (#37) and @nelly avila (#38) – Please try to keep the comments focused on the contents of the letter. Thanks.

    It would be good to hear about the civil society and NGO meeting with Erik Solheim later on today, though.

  39. A statement by the Multi-Stakeholders Steering Committee, published in the Guyana Chronicle, yesterday. Unfortunately, the MSSC also appears not to have bothered reading the letter to Erik Solheim before writing this statement. The letter does not seek “to prevent the transfer of funds from Norway to Guyana” and the letter is actually a constructive contribution to the debate about the LCDS (see my comment #13 above). The letter does not “question the credentials” of Rainforest Foundation or Poyry New Zealand – but it does point to weaknesses in the reports produced by these companies.

    Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy

    Thursday, 31 March 2011 01:12

    Statement by the Multi-Stakeholders Steering Committee

    THE members of the Multi Stakeholders Steering Committee (MSSC) of Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) take exception to an open letter sent by a group of Guyanese to the government of Norway, which is clearly intended to undermine the implementation of the agreement between the governments of Norway and Guyana to provide Guyana with payments for services rendered in preserving Guyana’s forests. The MSSC comprises a wide public, private partnership, which includes non-governmental organisations, environmental and indigenous peoples’ organizations, labour and the business community. The civil society members of the MSSC have volunteered their involvement because of their commitment towards establishing a transparent and constructive process to deliver the REDD+ Programme and the LCDS. The MSSC is committed to its responsibility to oversee, assist and guide the process of Guyana’s LCDS.

    The MSSC finds it regrettable that the letter seeks to prevent the transfer of funds from Norway to Guyana. These funds have already been earned in accordance with the agreement between Guyana and Norway, and independently reported and verified by recognized and respected institutions and consultants, including the Rainforest Alliance and POYRY Forest Industry. We are, in fact, astonished that the signatories of the letter should question the credentials of these organizations.

    The MSSC readily acknowledges that there has been an inordinate and unwelcome delay in the implementation of the REDD+ programme and in meeting the requirements for the disbursement of the funds to specific projects, projects which, in particular and as a priority, will benefit the development of our Amerindian communities, the first custodians of our forests.

    The MSSC wishes to point out that the process involves working in collaboration with partner entities, currently the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations Development Group, in the submission of projects for approval by the GRIF Steering Committee.

    As a recent statement from the Norwegian government itself has pointed out, “the Partner Entities are finalizing the transfer agreements between them and the World Bank which have to be in place before funds can flow from the Fund to specific projects” and that “this entails formal procedures in the relevant organizations that will still take some time”.

    The MSSC, therefore, holds the view that, while the internal procedures of these multilateral institutions may contribute to slowing the process, we do not share the view that the credibility of these organisations to provide essential fiduciary, social and environmental oversight for project implementation is questionable.

    The MSSC believes that Guyanese have a unique opportunity to combat climate change provided through the LCDS. While there are bound to be challenges in the implementation of the Guyana-Norway agreement, the MSSC considers it important to understand that, in the absence of a global REDD+ model, the Guyana-Norway agreement is a pioneering effort worthy of everyone’s support.

    Signed by:
    Hilbertus Cort Forest Producers Association (FPA)
    Carvil Duncan Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana
    Yvonne Pearson National Toshaos Council (NTC)
    Sydney Allicock North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB)
    Bertie Xavier North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB)
    Ashton Simon The National Amerindian Development Foundation
    Romel Simon The National Amerindian Development Foundation
    Peter Persaud The Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana
    Pamela Mendonca The Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana
    Colin Klautky Guyana Organisation of Indigenous People (GOIP)
    Ramesh Dookhoo Private Sector Commission
    Jocelyn Dow Independent Civil Society Member
    Vanda Radzik Independent Civil Society Member
    Joseph Singh Individual Capacity
    David James Individual Capacity
    Minister Pauline Sukhai Ministry of Amerindian Affairs
    Shyam Nokta Office of the President
    Andrew Bishop Office of the President
    Michael Brotherson Office of the President
    Steven Grin Office of the President
    Alfred King Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports
    Hymawattie Lagan Women’s Affairs Bureau
    George Jervis Ministry of Agriculture
    William Woolford Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC)
    Pradeepa Bholanath Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC)
    Indarjit Ramdass Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

  40. there’s not one person on that list who’s daily bread does not come directly from the govt or a govt agency
    Jocelyn Dow Independent and Vanda Radzik are now Independent Civil Society Member?!!
    they both travelled to copenhagen and london with jagdeo to rally norweigan funds for lcds. yvonne pearson, aubrey bishop and sham nokta were on that delegation that we know of

    you can still try to fool some of the people some of the time

    solhein sent a series of mixed messages at his press conference and jagdeo attacked the letter writers as dangerous home grown terrorists who want to take money out of his pocket [paraphrasing]

  41. Here’s a report on Demerara Waves a Solheim and Jagdeo’s press conference in Guyana yesterday:

    Norway stresses anti-corruption ahead of meeting with civil society, opposition

    Norway Thursday night stressed the need for anti-corruption mechanisms before compensating Guyana and other countries to preserve their forests.

    “We do not want to interfere in how Guyana use money…But there must be strict standards for anti-corruption and also strict international standards for environmental and social concerns that will be applied,” said Norway’s Environment and International Development Minister, Erik Solheim

    He also identified the need for a consultative process with interest groups and others.

    “As long as these basic standards are applied, it is up to Guyana to decide how it will use its money,” he told a news conference that he shared with President Bharrat Jagdeo.

    Solheim confirmed that an additional US$40 million would be paid to Guyana because the country has kept within the limits of deforestation, a sign that a call by the Group of 22 civil society activists and politicians’ call for monies to be withheld has been rejected. US$30 million have been already deposited into a special fund and is awaiting disbursement after projects would have been approved.

    The Norwegian minister pointed out that the issue of corruption was not specific to Guyana but it was also being raised in Brazil and Indonesia where similar compensation schemes are being developed.

    Scientists believe that standing forests would absorb greenhouse gases and reduce the impact of climate change such as rising temperatures, violent storms, rising sea-levels, droughts and floods.

    Against the background of the ‘Group of 22’ civil society activists and politicians calling for greater transparency and accountability, Solheim said he would be going into Friday’s talks with civil society actors and opposition politicians with an open mind.

    “We should listen to the concern from everyone. If opposition parties raise concerns, let’s listen to them and see whether they are fair.

    Recalling that the Norwegian funds have been included in Guyana’s budget as revenue, President Bharrat Jagdeo said there would be parliamentary oversight. He also said there would be a public tender process, locally and internationally for certain projects.

    “It was not the opposition’s concerns that I was worried about because they have a legitimate right to question; it’s this small group of people. There is nothing that the government could do, even God were to come, that they would find favour with,” said Jagdeo in reference to the Group of 22.

    The money would be used for the Guyana government to buy equity in the much touted Amaila Hydropower plant, titling of Amerindian lands, buying of solar panels for Amerindian villages and allocating a US$25,000 grant to each Amerindian village to fund projects for their community development.

    The funds are to be managed through the Guyana REDD Investment Fund with assistance from the World Bank and the Inter American Development Bank (IDB).

  42. In the light of Solheim’s latest remarks, we are left to wonder how large, exactly, is this ponzi scheme?

    The next step, apparently, will be to somehow “encourage” the IDB-expert Erik Helland-Hansen, head of the Advisory Expert Panel appointed by the IDB to assess the project’s environmental and social assessment, to retract his negative assessment of the ‘whole strategic concept’ of the Amaila project.

    Now, we should again focus … and yet again ask four important questions:

    1. Why is Solheim … and most everyone else … ignoring the further detail and complexity alluded to by Patrick Pereira ( http://www.stabroeknews.com/2010/opinion/letters/01/06/patrick-pereira-speaks-out-on-mou-with-norway/ )? The LCDS as currently conceptualized and executed does not only affect Amerindians, but has the potential to negatively affect an amount of citizenry many times larger than the total Amerindian population!

    As Pereira implies, the Open Letter should be a start in addressing much more than the dubious amount of LCDS-dollars that may possibly trickle down to Amerindians and the private sector! Is Guyana short-changing itself? Are Amerindians the ‘only” Guyanese?

    2. Shouldn’t the civil-society group, given their understandable concern over the progression of events given their very logical observations … not now REQUIRE Mr. Solheim to declare formally that he has no personal interest … financial or otherwise … in the movement of LCDS-funds to Guyana? In the face of such astonishing evidence as laid out in the open Letter, he is doing very little to protect his country’s money! Why?

    We had asked similar questions of Mr. Jagdeo at the time of the Badal/Jagdeo hiatus over the Pegasus … and urged the President to make a formal statement about his non-involvement (financial or otherwise) in the Marriott venture (http://www.stabroeknews.com/2010/news/stories/07/24/badal-afraid-of-marriott-jagdeo/ ). No response was forthcoming! Christopher Ram’s “The Case for the Marriott Hotel” ( http://www.chrisram.net/?p=488 ) only heightened our concerns in that regard!

    3. Why isn’t the civil-society group not now considering lobbying the Board of directors of the IDB on this issue? And every one of its member countries? Surely other nations would love to have IDB-brokered funds with as little scrutiny or attention to oversight?

    4. Mr. Solheim, what, exactly, has since changed from the position as outlined in the online article “Greed, Genocide … and now ‘Green’: Corruption and Underdevelopment in Guyana” (http://www.scribd.com/doc/17958657/Greed-Genocide-and-now-Green-Corruption-and-Underdevelopment-in-Guyana )?

    Can you afford to ignore the intensity of this national dialogue, and still be credible in the eyes of those observing your actions?

    what, exactly, is your role here?

  43. chris, your post was interesting as usual. But what is special about this topic? Any idea why you got such an intense response? More than 40 often rancorous comments, and now even an article for the Guardian from Tony Juniper of all people. You must be on to something.

    Meanwhile, any update on the Indonesia/Norway moratorium?

  44. @simon evans (#44) – Thanks for your comment. Here’s the link to the article in the Guardian by Tony Juniper: “A historic move in the battle to save tropical rainforests.”

    I think the letter raises some serious issues. The fact that the responses to the letter (both here and in the media in Guyana) attack the people who signed the letter rather than the points made in the letter only serve to show the validity of these points. Juniper also completely ignores most of the points made in the letter – in particular the demands for increased transparency in the process.

    The most recent news that I heard on the Indonesia/Norway moratorium was that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono would sign a decree in April making the moratorium legally binding. The day after this piece of news, the following headline appeared in the Jakarta Post: “SBY vows to protect palm oil interests.”

    You can follow REDD-Monitor’s newsclips on Indonesia here:

    http://www.delicious.com/reddmonitor/indonesia

  45. President Jagdeo, in his speech last night in Georgetown (posted below), attempts to dismiss the letter writers as “climate change skeptics”, who “seek to stop progress, who delight in finding reasons why every intelligent attempt to address climate change should be made to fail.” All of which suggests that Jagdeo has not yet read the letter.

    Remarks by His Excellency, President Bharrat Jagdeo, President of Guyana

    Georgetown, March 31st 2011

    I’m very happy to welcome Minister Solheim and his team back to Guyana, for their second visit. We greatly appreciate your efforts coming here to be with us.

    Over the past two years, it feels like the Minister and I have become veterans of the global campaign to address climate change. In the run up to the UNFCCC meeting at Copenhagen, then at Copenhagen, and then throughout last year as we prepared for Cancun, there have been countless international meetings where Heads of Government and Ministers of Environment have met to seek to forge a global deal to
    avert the biggest threat facing our planet today.

    A year and half ago, we had many people with us on that campaign. At every meeting we went to, there were large numbers of Heads of Government and Ministers. The issue was truly getting the attention it warranted. I am very concerned that this is no longer the case.

    But a small group of countries have kept the faith. Without them, our global prospects for averting climate catastrophe would be grim. I sometimes wish the citizens of countries like Norway could see just how hard Prime Minister Stoltenberg, Minister Solheim and their teams work when they are in places like Copenhagen and Cancun. And I was pleased to work with Prime Minister Stoltenberg last year, when the UN Secretary General invited the Prime Minister and myself to join his advisory group on climate finance, and to witness first hand the Prime Minister’s determination to make a contribution to the world’s fight against climate change.

    But tonight, I want to highlight two areas where Norway has been particularly vital.

    One – Norway has led the developed world in recognizing that there is no solution to climate change without a solution to deforestation and forest degradation. We all know the facts by now. We know that deforestation and forest degradation cause 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions, we know that addressing these emissions may be the only chance we have in the next decade of getting the world onto a 2 degree trajectory. And we know that this is affordable.

    But the other area I want to draw attention to is Norway’s attitude.

    We all know well that there are a very large number of people out there who seek to stop progress, who delight in finding reasons why every intelligent attempt to address climate change should be made to fail. These climate change skeptics are every bit as dangerous to the world’s attempts to save the lives of millions as the rather more well-known climate change skeptics who can’t understand the science. And it would be very easy for countries like Guyana and Norway to lie down in the face of these climate change skeptics.

    But that is why I very much value Norway’s willingness to look beyond these skeptics, and to work to forge workable solutions to the challenge of deforestation and forest degradation.

    In particular, this is visible in your two major bilateral agreements with Brazil and Guyana, and your third embryonic agreement with Indonesia. I am pleased that the Guyana-Norway partnership on deforestation and forest degradation is the second largest such partnership in the world.

    Because workable solutions such as those we are forging together are what make the difference in the lives of people in Guyana and across the world.

    They are the people I care about, not the skeptics who seek to hold our citizens back. We need to think about the young child in Paramakatoi who is just as entitled to internet access as a child in Europe or the United States. The Amerindian villagers who deserve legally binding title to their land. The small business person in Anna Regina who should have cheaper, cleaner energy. The students in UG who have the right to access the latest thinking on bio-diversity and how it can enrich our global economy. People across Guyana, from every walk of life: these are the people who matter, and for whom our work together must deliver meaningful results.

    And the partnership between us, which has grown in depth and quality over the past two years, provides the means to start delivering those results.

    Just over three years ago, I made two points. One, I said that I believed that the people of Guyana would be able to carefully steward our forest for the long term if the right economic incentives were created, and the legitimate development aspirations of the people were not damaged. And two, I said that if those incentives were created, we would invest payments we received to shift our national economy onto a low carbon path.

    What we announce tonight addresses the first point I made – the idea that we could ensure the long-term maintenance of our forest cover if the right incentives were created. Of course, we need a UNFCCC REDD+ mechanism as the longer term solution to addressing deforestation and forest degradation. But what we announce tonight proves that it is possible to start aligning the needs of forest countries and the world’s fight against climate change.

    Importantly, it shows that we can maintain our forest cover at the same time as we allow for the careful and sustainable promotion of employment and economic activities in the forest. In particular, mining and sustainable forestry management will continue to provide employment and economic opportunity – providing those that participate in these industries recognize that we require them to operate to high social and environmental standards. And our Amerindian peoples will be able to continue with their traditional ways of conducting agriculture.

    So having created this incentive structure, what we announce today moves us on to address the second point I made when I first set this vision out –that we can invest the payments we receive in our transition to a low carbon economy. Over the past year, our countries have sought to jointly create a model which enshrines national sovereignty over use of the funds with the implementation of a set of global standards for financial, social and environmental safeguards. The challenge has been finding a way to certify that those standards are present in the absence of a UNFCCC mechanism to set them. We have found that the instruments available to the multilateral institutions are not yet fit for purpose, we need them to be modernized, and our offer to work with them as equal partners remains open. In short, we need to get to the bottom of what is not working within the international system and I am pleased that the JCN we have announced tonight highlights that we will give significantly more attention to solving this remaining problem in the weeks and months ahead.

    Once that happens, this partnership can show the world that success is possible. We will see Guyanese citizens move to one of the highest rates of renewable energy use in the world. The Amaila Falls hydro power plant will remove over 92% of our energy-related emissions, while delivering energy independence for our country, and cheaper energy for our citizens and businesses. Every Amerindian household in the country will have solar panels. Our digital infrastructure, which is so key to creating our new economy, will be among the best in the world. Not the developing world, the world. From now on, no indigenous village will be prevented from having their villages titled because of a lack of funds. Every forest village will be able to progress their Community Development Plan to create new employment and economic opportunity. Low Carbon Development will be on the curriculum of every school child, and we will build a world class Centre for Biodiversity here in Georgetown. These are what we set out to do with our Low Carbon Development Strategy and this year, they will translate into realities for the people that my Government is in power to serve.

    So Minister, I think it is fair to say that our partnership is a work-in-progress, and that is perhaps the best compliment we can pay it. The hard work, resolve and willingness to learn from each other are the characteristics or our teams that are making the partnership effective. These characteristics will continue to be needed in the months ahead.

    As I said earlier, the lives of millions of people across our planet remain in the balance, and they will suffer unless we act on climate change. Norway has not wavered in its resolve to face up to this issue, and I thank you and the people of your country for staying firm in the face of global inaction.

    I promise you that the people of Guyana will stay with you on that road. And once more, I am delighted to welcome you to our country.

    Thank you.

  46. after the civil society/ngo meeting we’ll be able better to deconstruct solheim & what he’s really up to
    jagdeo as usual displays his paranoia and moscow ecoonmic/developmental model

  47. Seeing as how, with the announcement that Norway will commit the second and third major breaches of the MoU – by agreeing to send $40m more, despite the increase in deforestation, and by accepting the ridiculous Rainforest Alliance report as evidence of GoG’s fulfilment of the conditions of the MoU (the first breach being not to demand compliance with World bank due diligence procedures for GRIF expenditures) – Solheim has shown definitively that this agreement has nothing whatsoever to do with reducing carbon emissions from Guyana’s forests (not that the Government of Guyana thought it was ever about that anyway), and apprently everything about shipping money to this hideous government.

    So what we need to know now is, ‘what exactly IS this funding agreement really all about’?

    It seems this is going to need some much close examination in Norway. Perhaps Norway’s reputation for good governance is not quite fully deserved.

  48. So what we need to know now is, ‘what exactly IS this funding agreement really all about’?

    But I thought REDD+ meant to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation.

  49. Chris, I hope you have recovered from the rightful shock”Norway adds
    US$40M to forest saving fund -but dismisses concrens about increasing deforestation (“Kaieteur News -1st April, 2011)The Stabroek news also in its front page and headlined”Norway releases another US$40m into GRIF”
    (1st April, 2011)This is absolutely good news for Guyana in its persuit of implementing its LCDS.The “Famous” open letter to Norways Mimister of enviornment and International developmentERIK Solheim by a so-called civil society gruop was justifiably ignored. The Political and unparriotic critics of Guyana’s LCDS such as Janette Bulkan, Nelly Avila and others are now standing with their mouths open in shame that is their place. Now an ashamed ‘Forest Expert’Bulkan should now deposit her “open letter by a civil society group”into the garbage bin of history. But mischievous and unpatriotic Janette Bulkan must be unidentified and isolated by the Guyanese people.She ia a schemer always
    digging up trash to stop Guyana’s LCDS. But Bulkan will always fail in her ungodly schemes.She,Nelly Avila and other critics of Guyana LCDS behave like typical crabs in a barrel.But that is their rightful place, to be in a barrel. And Norway is aware that such people exist in a society.

  50. @ Peter Persuud………..until you see the supposed funds and its terms and conditions from Norway I suggest you keep your mouth shut.
    Quoting rubbish from news paper or internet as ‘Gosbel’ is ridiculous.

  51. @Peter Persaud (#50) – You write: “The ‘Famous’ open letter to Norways Mimister of enviornment and International developmentERIK Solheim by a so-called civil society gruop was justifiably ignored.”

    That just about sums it up. None of the people arguing that Norway should just hand over the money has addressed any of the problems listed in the letter to Erik Solheim. Few of them seem to have even read the letter. Instead they attack the people who signed on to the letter.

  52. Press statement by the People’s National Congress Reform in Guyana about Erik Solheim’s visit (which doesn’t mention the letter to Solheim at all):

    PRESS STATEMENT BY People’s National Congress Reform

    Thursday 31st March 2011, Media Centre, Congress Place

    VISIT OF NORWAY MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT AND THE LCDS

    The People’s National Congress Reform welcomes Norwegian Minister of Environment and International Development, Mr. Erik Solheim, to Guyana and will be pleased to meet with him, along with other Opposition Political Parties, to express our views on the Norwegian cooperation with Guyana. Unlike Guyana, Norway is a democratic state with the Executive being fully conscious that it is accountable to the Parliament and people of that country. Consequently, the Minister would obviously like to reassure himself that the Agreements between Guyana and his country, including the Norway/Guyana Agreement on Avoided Forestation, meets the standards expected in any democratic society.

    Since the launching of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) by the Jagdeo Administration on 8th June 2009, the PNCR has made its concerns known. The Party’s also made a detailed presentation to the Parliament when the matter was brought to the National Assembly on the 17th December 2009, one day before the Environmental Summit in Norway.

    The PNCR has always stated that any strategy, aimed at fostering economic development in an environmentally sustainable manner, is to be commended. Yet, as is so often the case with the Jagdeo Administration, the PPP methods and procedures adopted in its pursuit of the LCDS, continue to undermine its goals. In its Press Statement of Friday 12th June 2009 the PNCR stated that,

    “Since the Administration’s Low-Carbon Development Strategy is primarily premised on access to and the utilisation of Carbon Credit benefits from Avoided Deforestation. It is a matter of curiosity that the Jagdeo Administration did not think that the work and research being undertaken by the Iwokrama Centre to be of sufficient importance for informing the development and implementation of the plan for realising the benefits from the Low-Carbon Development Strategy.

    Of greater concern to the PNCR, however, is the manner in which the people of Guyana will benefit from the financial and other benefits accruing from the proposed Low-Carbon Development Strategy and the Avoided Deforestation initiative of President Jagdeo. So far, the Administration has proceeded on the assumption that the natural resources of Guyana are under the exclusive control of the PPP Administration to do as they please. Consequently, the benefits to be derived may be treated in the same inequitable and discriminatory manner in which the Jagdeo regime has been conducting the affairs of Guyana . The Jagdeo Administration should be put on notice, however, that the PNCR is determined to ensure that any benefits, which Guyana derives, from its natural resources endowment are equitably distributed, for the benefit of all citizens and free from political partisanship.”

    The Jagdeo Administration has, however, persistently excluded from consideration the views expressed by the PNCR and other Organisations in Guyana and treated as their exclusive preserve the decision making on how any benefits, which Guyana derives, from its natural resources endowment would be equitably distributed for the benefit of all citizens. This still remains a major concern of the PNCR. The lack of transparency that has become endemic in national affairs provide no assurance that that the major stakeholders will ever be involved in the process thus leading to the conclusion that the PPP/C intends to use any resources obtained from Norway in a political partisan way to earn political advantages, particularly in this Election year.

    Another concern of the PNCR is the lack of clarity about the determination of the precise elements of the Government’s long term development strategy, based on the promotion of low-carbon alternatives. Moreover, the LCDS document does not spell out how the funds, expected to be realised from the Avoided Deforestation compensation commitments, would be utilised within the context of a well thought out strategy for the economic and social development of Guyana.

    Very little attention has, so far, been placed on the preparation of a viable National Development Strategy that sets out clearly how the benefits from the Carbon Sink services of the Guyana Rain Forest , through the REDD-plus mechanism would be utilised for the transformation of the Guyana economy. It should be self evident that such a National Development Strategy must earn the consensual endorsement of the people of Guyana . While the MOU recognises this deficiency all Guyanese know that the Jagdeo Administration has done everything possible to avoid any commitment to the existing National Development Strategy which was developed by Civil Society. The PNCR effort, by way of a Motion in the National Assembly, to have the Government commit to having this document updated and modified, to take account of current economic and social realities, was rejected by the Government’s majority in the National Assembly. At that time, the Minister of Finance arrogantly stated in the debate that the Government intended to revise that strategy singlehandedly and that the views of the Opposition Members of Parliament were irrelevant.

    The objective reality is that Guyana, far from being a truly democratic state, has descended into the dictatorship of an elected cabal, dominated and characterized by one man rule, as the USAID Country Strategy 2009 to 2013 has confirmed.

    An informed and knowledgeable citizenry is necessary to the development of a democratic culture. Clearly, the PPP/C Administration does not agree with this proposition. In the modern world, it is routine for Governments to allow their citizens access to information from multiple sources so that they can understand what is going on in their own backyard and the rest of the world. The PPP/C Administration, on the other hand, has unashamedly limited the access of Guyanese to information by maintaining a radio monopoly, limiting access to the state media and ensuring that freedom of information remains a pipe dream. The Prime Minister, Mr. Samuel Hinds, after extreme public criticism, had undertaken, by letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Leader of the Opposition, to ensure that the FOI Bill was laid in the Parliament by January 2011. The promised Freedom of Information (FOI) Act remains another unfulfilled promise. Equally, the Government has adamantly refused to establish an Independent National Broadcasting Authority as agreed since May 2003. The result is the continued abuse of the National Radio and Television, NCN, for political propaganda.

    The concerns of the PNCR were made known to the New Norwegian Ambassador to Guyana, H.E. Torbjørn Holthe, when he paid a courtesy call on the Leader of the PNCR and Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Robert Corbin at his Congress Place , Sophia office on 12th November 2009. It was emphasised that the establishment of a Public Procurement Commission as required by law should be a precondition for the release and monitoring of any financial resources being made available to Guyana.

    The PNCR expected that such international exposure of the deficiencies of the Jagdeo Administration would have stimulated the implementation of the long outstanding Constitutionally mandated Public Procurement Commission and the correction of the absurdity of the Office of the Auditor General being a Budget Agency under the Office of the President. Regrettably, the Jagdeo Administration has remained adamant and has not even considered it important to submit its nominees for this Commission to the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament.

    The Government, however, must be made accountable to the people of Guyana through their representatives in the National Assembly. In this context, the PNCR reiterates its previously stated position, in our Press Statement of 3rd December 2009, that, “Given the experiences of the last decade of the Jagdeo kleptocracy, the Party insists that any funds for Guyana from the REDD+ initiative must be managed under a mechanism of strict accountability and transparency. All funds must be deposited in the Consolidated Fund and accessed under the authorisation of the National Assembly.”

    The need for such a procedure has been demonstrated by the recent exposures on the One Laptop Per Family project, (OLPF), where, even in the face of parliamentary allocations, the Government appears determined to ensure lack of transparency and the creation of conditions for continued corruption.

    The PNCR will reiterate its position on these matters to the Norwegian Minister of Environment and International Development, Mr. Erik Solheim.

  53. @Peter Persaud

    What exactly is your supposed Amerindian organisation ‘TAAMOG’, who funds it, what does it do, who does it represent, and how it is governed?

  54. solheim’s haughtiness and arrogance in the face of questioning was a bit surprising but to be expected since he cant afford for all this effort to implode in his face. he seemed to have inherited some of jagdeo’s defensiveness.
    what we know is that Guyanese know more about jagdeo and his regime than any oslo bureaucrat ever will
    if you haven’t already google skeldon sugar factory, hope canal, clico Guyana, supernaam stelling or the latest govt scheme – a tv channel to teach students. this after the minister of education said he doesn’t care if teachers leave for better pay, they will train more [$1 million contract will go to some golden child of the ruling party to set up the infrastructure and the channel has already been launched]

  55. Chris, Norway’s Minister of enviroment and International Development ERIK Solheim at his historic Declaration on March 31st,2011 said “President Jagdeo’s vision of the Low- Corbon Development path for Guyana is far – reaching and ambitious. The people of Guyana deserve our congratulations for what they have done so far and our Steadfast support going forward” Where is Janette Bulkan and Nelly Avila? Have they recovered from the shock? They and other critics seem to be quiet.Or are they restrategising for the outpouring of more trash where Guyana’s LCDs is concerened as mentioned in the eight – points letter by a so called civil society group.Let them come again.

  56. @Peter Persaud

    What exactly is your supposed Amerindian organisation TAAMOG, who funds it, what does it do, who does it represent, and how it is governed?

  57. Peter Persaud is an active member of the Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana (Taamog) which was formed to protect and defend the rights and interests of Guyana’s Indigenous peoples in march 1993. taamog represents the nine Indigenous tribes of guyana. Taamog is not funded by any organisation inside and outside of Guyana.Taamog receives its funds from fund raising ventures. Do you want to help us C@ A Witness? Taamog’s Affairs is managed by an executive Committee who meets on a monthly basis for its statutory Meetings. Tell us who you are C@A Witness?

  58. i’ve already exposed this man as a non-Amerindian agent provocateur and attack dog for the Guyana govt. quite unfortunate and sad because he plays with the lives of Amerindian people on behalf of his political bosses. expect to hear more of his indigenous affiliation in the future.
    let me repeat a few things
    1. we are not aware of an organisation by that name.
    2. we do not know where it is located.
    3. we do not know of anyone who’s publicly claimed membership or executive position besides this man.
    4. we’ve never heard of or seen ANY event held under the banner of this organization within the 83000 square miles of Guyana. we know this man is a regular at the ruling party head quarters

    in other news. we learn of this from the foreign press as we have no freedom of information in Guyana
    V G Siddhartha, best known for his Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) chain, has taken 1.85 million hectares of Amazonian forestland on a 30-year lease from the Republic of Guyana in South America to start a furniture business in India

  59. Halakoba
    I have enjoyed the benefits of living in an entirely natural environment, thatched roof, earth floor, medicinal/food garden nearby, thanks to my Lokono grandmother and Carib great grandmother(who fled the Spanish wars)

    The PEOPLE who are responsible for preserving our natural environments before the coming of the Europeans are the ones who should be responsible for saving our forests (they are the experts)

    Where are they? I fear that if they are not involved properly, our forests will all be gone.

  60. I am happy that Nelly Avila has finally recovered from the Norwegian shock of March 31st 2011. But unfortunately her continued and unfounded claims about me are misleading and can only be classified as pure balderdash and more so coming from a frustrated mind- set caused by the Norwegian declaration and in essence giving rise to unqualified generalisations which Nelly Avila are guilty of. I am urging Nelly Avila to give me the name of the Foreign Press that gave her bogus information about me. Try again Nelly Avila but please be credible.

  61. The café group from India mentioned in comment 59 above has procured access to two large logging concessions (formerly allocated to CRL and Shocks & Shocks) – without any prior experience of tropical forest management in order to export logs of species which Guyana’s policy seems to prohibit – supposedly to enable its in-house furniture business to expand. In general, concessionaires are not allowed to subcontract logging operations.

    This is surely consistent with neither REDD+ nor what the Norwegian electorate expect.

    The group’s plans to expand – and float the shares of its furniture business (Dark Forest) – have been assisted by investments last year from three private equity firms, including Standard Chartered and KKR. Those investments are inconsistent with the level of diligence reasonably due for projects such as this, given the quality and quantity of readily available information about forest governance in Guyana and Illegal Timber exports to India and China from Guyana.

    This foray into Guyana is presumably more profitable than the damage it is likely to cause to the Coffee Café Day group’s brand – which alludes to such values as integrity and conservation.

  62. Nelly Avila has not yet fully recovered from the Norwegian shock attack. But that is her place. This anti – Govenment twit has recognised that Norway does not pay attention to trash in relation to guyan’s LCDS.Both she and Bulkan two idiots in the same pod are now ashamed of their unpatriotic actions of spewing lines and distorted claims against the Government of Guyana.Now to cover their shame they are picking on Vaitarna Holdings private Ins (VHPI)But they have a problem interpreting the forest law and guidelines of our country and are making wild and unsubstantiated claims. But they shall fail again.

  63. Nelly Avila, An Anti Government Rascal said that she will attend the Civil Society Meeting to represent the interests of “her brothers and sisters in the bush” as well as other interests to the Norwegian Minister who recently visited Guyana. But, lo and behold Nelly Avila was not around. she is just like an empty barrel that makes a lot of noise. Who was your representative at the meeting with the Norwegian Minister at the Pegasus Hotel Nelly Avila? Is Nelly Avila a rotten rope and a traitor to the cause of Guyana’s Indigenous Peoples.She claims to be an Amerindian. What Amerindian?

  64. “What the LCDS says about Amalia Falls Dam” – Janette Bulkan
    I do regret that the Presidential Secretariat. Ministry of Agriculture and Guyana Forestry Commission have all failed so far to answer any single one of the questions raised in this letter. Generalised assertions are not answers to specific points which have cited extracts from national policy, laws and administrative procedures.
    Surely in the 19th year of this administration these agencies can do better to demonstrate their claim to transparency in operation?

    http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2011/04/17/what-the-lcds-says-about-amaila-falls-dam/

  65. Janet Bulkan has quite rightly recognised the irrelevance and failure of her ill- fated letter sent to Norway’s Minister of Environment and International Development Erik Solheim calling for funds to be stopped for the implementation of Guyana’s LCDS. Since both the Stabroek and kaieteur News are Anti- Government Newspapers in Guyana and conduits for Anti Government propaganda, Bulkan is using these media houses to the fullest to give coverage to her “in famous” letter to Norway in the name of “civil society” trying hard to justify its absurdities. In fact anything Bulkan sends to these media houses is printed without checks of accuracy since Bulkan is a known Anti- Government Activist. But Bulkan Politically mischievous letter to Norway is simply presumptive which does not meet the criteria for constructive discourse or rationalisation. No wonder her politically motivated letter was ignored by Norway and the relevant authorities in Guyana. Bulkan claims that the unpatriotic letter sent to Norway was by a “civil society group” in Guyana. Thisd is a blatant lie since the group comprised of opposition politicians who will be contesting the upcoming 2011 General Elections. So Bulkan’s “civil society group” is more a political clique or gang rather than a genuine civil society grouping. But Bulkan hoped in vain that her “baseless” letter would have attracted the attention of Norway. But she failed miserably and will continue to fail in her subversive schemes against Guyana’s LCDS and the Amaila Falls Project. Her trick in using the name “Civil Society” therefore simply did not work. But Bulkan’s Expertise in foresty matters needs to be placed under the microscope since her management plan for crabwood trees in the Waini River,NWD was rejected by the relevant authorities in Guyana. In this connection how can her submissions on Guyana’s LCDS and the Amaila Falls Project be credible?

  66. First of all I would like to say I am very much in support of conservation of our last remaining forests on the planet. With that said, I fully support president Jagdeo’s efforts to protect Guyana’s forests. And disagree with the naysayers as their concerns are addressed and well some are petty and stem from the hatred of the current administration in Guyana. To understand the issue your must live in Guyana to know the politics of Guyana. Who is biased and who is not.

    Firstly, with respect to the issue of delay with projects preparation. It may seem that Norway would have known that Guyana had delays in it projects preparation and even withstanding that Guyana was given monies. It seems petty for these persons to write about that, with any project there are sure to be delays weather, inaccuracies can cause delays. As to the projects there are numerous projects that the president has identified, The Amalia hydro power project, the titling of Amerindian lands, demarcation of Amerindian lands, providing each Amerindian village with solar panels for electricity, giving grants to each Amerindian village to develop a project to increase economic activity within their village. An example is below.

    http://www.guyanachronicleonline.com/site/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=26625:cashing-in-on-morucas-significant-tourism-potential&catid=2:news&Itemid=3

    And the so called independent press that they mention is in league with these misfits. Most of them Mr. Christopher Ram for example is a regular columnist in the “independent press”.
    Secondly, they talked about deforestation rates increasing. I am surprised they even put this in there. And honorable Minister Solheim gave a great analogy to explain this. He said that if you have a football stadium that hold 50,000 persons and there was only one person in that stadium representing the deforestation rate of Guyana, and you add another person the percentage increases by 100%. Doesn’t it? Similarly if the deforestation rate of Guyana was so low you cut one tree per acre now if you cut two more trees that’s a 200% increase. Its that simple. Guess they are not very good at Math. The minister of Norway even said that “Guyana has one of the lowest rates of deforestation in the world”. But you also have to keep in mind Guyana is a poor country and if your want to conserve forest you have to do it by limitation and not expect not to cut trees. Cutting down trees is what feeds many families in Guyana. They either sell it for income or use it as fuel. With the rise in timber prices I am sure there will be increases because supply has to meet demand if there is a demand there will be a supply. And if that demand is not met legally by giving concessions to loggers there will be illegal logging I assure you that. But coming back to the point of the people of Guyana. Logging puts bread on the plates of many families.

    Thirdly, Minister Erik said the strictest safeguards will be applied. This money has to be transferred to the GRIFF fund over which the IDB has jurisdiction only when Guyana has submitted its projects then this money will be disbursed to Guyana. This money is reflected as part of the government’s budget which means every Member of Parliament knows how this money is spent and where this money is going and on top of that it will have to be audited by the auditor general.
    I ask them to suggest any other safeguards that they can think of in parliament as they are never there, these MP whose signature are here they slumber on the job that they people put them there to do. They can only walk out of parliament because they have their other jobs to tend to; as if making policies for the country isn’t important. I think it’s not important to them so what the hell.
    Fourthly, they said there was weak participatory process. I can’t believe they could be so shameless. FYI they “multi-stakeholder” steering committee was made up of everyone from the indigenous people’s “toshao”, they head of each Amerindian village, to the business community, the forestry commission and even the opposition members of parliament I am sure these so called MP’s can confirm that. In relation to the low carbon benefits of the projects submitted by Guyana, obviously the Amalia hydro power will replace 92% of electricity needs for the country; Solar panels will be used in Amerindian villages instead of diesel powered generators. They money given as grants to the villages will increase economic activity in the village and with more money in their pockets Amerindian will not need to depend heavily on the forest for their livelihood. Thus, a reduction in the cutting down of trees. Although demarcation and titling of Amerindian land is not low carbon but it is high in respect for the Amerindians who will for the first time have an exact map of where their lands are and can have a say as to how they want to use their land. With respect to the coastland of Guyana they said that no projects to reduce emissions were undertaken. On the contrary the government has a mangrove conservation and restoration project although not mentioned and funded under the Guyana/Norway deal. But it’s in line with the low carbon development strategy.

    http://mangrovesgy.org/Documents/Progress%20Update%20implementation%20NMMAP%209_7_10.pdf
    http://www.greenantilles.com/2010/06/11/restoring-guyanas-mangroves/
    http://bluecarbonblog.blogspot.com/2011/04/world-atlas-of-mangroves-book-review.html

    With respect to the demarcation of Amerindian lands they said “the proposal is based on the Amerindian Act 2006, which is incompatible with both the National Constitution and international standards” How could an Act which has passed through parliament and instituted into the laws of Guyana be incompatible with the constitution. I come to the conclusion that either the opposition MP’s wasn’t in parliament that day because the neglected their duties or they’re just ignorant. I do believe that there are international partners that examine the laws of Guyana and make recommendations where they see fit. I remember reading an article that says that the laws of Guyana are similar to the laws in Australia. And remember there was a team from Britain that came to observe the parliamentary process and laws of Guyana a few years ago. The UNDP is an international organization and I do believe that they are answerable to the UN. Are they trying to say that the UN is not a trustworthy organization, 200 odd countries think they are trustworthy.
    Inadequate Independent verification, first they cast doubts on Mckinsey’s report and now on the rainforest alliance. I wonder if the government uses another organization to independently verify their progress if these persons will cast doubts on the report. You decide.

    To the issue of verification of reports by Norway they said “Unfortunately it appears that the Norway International Climate and Forests Initiative did not specify how or by what criteria the evidence supplied by the Government should be evaluated”. I do believe that the Norwegians would not give away their money without through evaluation of the reports. I remember that the President of Norway said that they pay for rainforest services by high taxation and they would like value for their money.

    The Amalia falls project.
    The amalia falls project will be funded by the Chinese investors and they are only casting doubts the other issue was with having a plan B. Hypothetically, saying that the funding is not acquired there are still other investors and even if not they money will be in the country and the parliament has oversight of this money. The parliament does include the opposition MP’s I hope I’m clear with that. Their argument about the ability of the contractor to build the dam and road has no merit. Even if the dam gets delayed and takes another 10 years to build it would still make economic and social sense. Consumer’s electric bill will be cut by about 65 – 75%. Less importation of fossil fuel and the country saves money. And above all our deforestation rate will still be below the internationally recognized rate. It may not be environmentally friendly but it is economically and socially friendly.

    Answers to some of Chris Lang’s questions.

    Could you explain how an increase in deforestation in Guyana is going to address climate change?

    An increase in deforestation is not going to address climate change. But what you don’t seem to comprehend is that although you have Norway paying for forest services many individuals livelihood depends on the forest either through logging, mining, fuel, etc. The poor people in Guyana need to put roti and cassava bread on their plates so you cannot expect a decrease in deforestation when the price of timber has gone up and as I’ve explained earlier if there is a demand for timber there will be a supply. If Norway wasn’t paying to conserve the forest the deforestation rate would have been much higher they could have brought in the palm oil plantations by now it would have given us much foreign exchange like in Indonesia.

    Or how building a road through the forest to a hydropower plant will reduce deforestation?

    Chris I do think your biased views are clouding your judgment. You cannot expect that there will be no deforestation taking place when building a hydropower plant but the deforestation will be to its minimal. The hydropower plant will supply 92% of the country’s electricity. Do you know that is how much barrels of oil per year? Everyday Guyana uses about 15, 000 to 20, 000 barrels of oil divide that by half and you’ll find out how much emissions are negated since half of that oil is used to power diesel generators for electricity. I do think that the deforestation for a road and that of the entire hydropower project does not out way the reduction of importing 2, 670, 000 – 3,650,000 barrels of oil per year.
    Or how the long list of projects on Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency website will help reduce deforestation and address climate change?
    I think you are on the same point. The projects are Guyana’s projects and we have a right to have all the comforts that you have and more, we do expect to earn more tomorrow so if these projects are environmentally feasible and will bring in foreign exchange while staying under the internationally set deforestation rate then we do not have any problem with such projects. I do believe I speak for a “majority” of the Guyanese people.

    Or how building a hydropower dam that has been in the pipeline for many years can in any way be considered to be additional?

    I do not get what you mean by “additional”. But the hydropower has indeed been in the pipeline for years but the country was down weighed by a huge debt incurred by the previous dictatorial administration only when that debt was reduced had the country been in any favorable financial position to take on any huge projects. But there are many other proposed hydropower projects and this maybe a different one.

    Do you believe that the Guyana-Norway agreement should be a transparent process that genuinely achieves reductions in deforestation and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions?

    I do believe that it should be transparent and if Norway finds it transparent then who are you and me to say otherwise. And if Norway finds any discrepancies they can discontinue their funding. But what do you mean by “genuinely” Guyana has had a low deforestation rate but you cannot expect us to stifle our development to meet your expectations. There will still be deforestation but below the internationally recognizable rate.

    “I’m very reluctant to defend the UK government on almost any issue, but the UK does at least have a Freedom of Information Act.”

    You are right but what do you mean freedom of information in the UK. The UK’s freedom of information is to pry more into its citizen’s lives. Do the British release all their sensitive information into the society to be scrutinized? Freedom of information Act is a loose law that helps the government to pry into people lives while protecting their government’s deepest secrets. Even the US has a freedom of information act do they release all their military deals with the middle east countries( Israel included) do the release how many innocent civilians they killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. But I do believe Guyana should have a freedom of information act even if it just for show as in the developed world.

    “One of the extraordinary things about Guyana’s forests, it seems to me, is that there are several very large logging concessions, run by companies with something of a reputation for destroying forests in other parts of the world”.

    If you are referring to Barama, the Malaysian company, their contract was made in the 1990’s when Guyana was suffering from the ill effects of the previous dictatorial administration and was badly in need of investment. They were found to be in breach of contract and fined furthermore their contract is being reviewed. And any other recent logging concessions were made under what you called selective logging. I’m sure your familiar with that. If you look at the most recent press release of the logging concession with the Indian Company it shows Guyana only allows the company to cut 4 mature trees in one hectare. And the company is contractually bound to replant every tree it cuts.

  67. fip motilall and the road to nowhere
    Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, yesterday expressed the administration’s dissatisfaction with the progress Synergy Holdings Inc is making with the construction of the road to Amaila Falls.
    According to Dr Luncheon, Makeshwar ‘Fip’ Motilall, is “hopelessly behind” schedule and they have suggested that he start to contract out certain components of the project.
    http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2011/04/21/synergy-holdings-hopelessly-behind-schedule-dr-luncheon/

  68. Erik Solheim, Norway’s Minister of the Environment and International Development has still not answered this letter. The letter was sent twice, on 24 March and 26 April 2011.

  69. glad to see more people waking up to bharrat jagdeo & co.
    national toshao council is a govt org that was forced on amerindians leaders. they must join or see their villages suffer the consequences. they were also all or most forced to sign the statement demanding norway release ‘their money’
    well finally and gladly the world bank says no to the 200K the NTC was going to use to tell amerindians that jagdeo and his party are the great messiahs
    if he’s so great let him mint his own money on the people he says he loves
    http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2011/11/05/no-world-bank-public-awareness-funds-for-amerindians/
    peter persaud who has been hidden is now presidential candidate on a party seized by guyana govt agents. think i may have mentioned that before. cant remember ;-)

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