Guyana stands out as an example for planning and REDD

During the course of the semester, I have been studying various aspects of REDD with my pod. Since being at the COP, I have attended a number of side-events on REDD implementation, but have not been incredibly impressed with their content. Today I attended a side-event hosted by World Resources Institute (WRI) which tied into some of the research I have recently been doing on Readiness Preparation Proposals (R-PPs) mandated by the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) under the umbrella of the World Bank. R-PPs include detailed assessments of the drivers of deforestation and degradation, terms of reference for defining their baseline emissions levels, and plans to establish an MRV system. The side event hosted by WRI spotlighted Guyana, a country that is taking action, having completed its R-PP and signed an MOU with Norway.

The side event was called “The Best Laid Plans” and attempted to identify issues that make planning for adaptation difficult. WRI identified ways in which governments can ensure their adaptation plans are more easily implemented. Speakers stressed that the initial inventory of natural resources is difficult, as many countries have not established monitoring systems. They also emphasized the imperative to consult all stakeholders when writing land-use plans and the importance of the implementation of good governance and law enforcement as a safeguard against corruption. I feel like I have heard a great deal about the importance of addressing the drivers, national and international, of deforestation. I was impressed by the layout of this particular section of the R-PP. These proposals acknowledge these drivers in a matrix and list national laws that are in place to prevent them as well as circumstances that might exacerbate these drivers. For instance, in Guyana, logging, mining, conversion of land to agriculture, and construction of new infrastructure (mainly roads to access remote areas for resource extraction) have been identified as the largest drivers.

WRI warns that there are four main obstacles that are peculiar to adaptation planning, and these include uncertainty regarding the progress of climate science relative to the speed with which countries would like to react. Another issue is that countries enter into this dialogue at different points and with different vulnerabilities. If plans cannot be adaptable, or if a different version of plans such as NAMAs, deviations from NAMAs, or locally adapted NAMA-type plans is not accepted under the UNFCCC, then how can these plans become functional? Then there is the question of integration – how do countries integrate pre-existing plans with current climate change planning? This integration is crucial, as basic needs (food and energy security and water sanitation) must be addressed first, but is there a way to integrate these dire concerns and priorities with climate change adaptation planning in a way that forces action?

Guyana is an interesting case, as they have moved ahead with their signing of the MOU with Norway. Seventy-percent of their population lives below sea level. In 2005, they endured the worst flood in their history, which wiped out 60% of their GDP. They have experience first-hand the unpredictability and severity of weather events in recent years. They also recognized early on that REDD was initially being tailored to countries with high deforestation rates and ignoring countries with high forest cover coupled with low historical deforestation rates. President Jagdeo stressed that the model for REDD can only be sustainable if it includes all forest types. Guyana was interested in becoming a pilot project for REDD under the FCPF and dedicated an entire forest the size of England, for which opportunity cost estimates reached 580 million. President Jagdeo is dedicated to protecting the rights of indigenous people and Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC), and plans to ensure that any money generated through REDD on indigenous lands go straight back to the people and that there are safeguards in place for this mechanism. Under the MOU with Norway, Guyana will receive 250 million over 5 years for avoided deforestation, they will set a baseline according to a methodology outlined by a working group also under the leadership of FCPF, and will formulate (and have begun plans for) a vigorous MRV system which, according to President Jagdeo, contains a transparent financial mechanism to ensure that funds are properly used. Obviously, Guyana’s plan has not reached full implementation, and there is still so much to be determined regarding the mechanism of REDD implementation, but Guyana should be commended for its steps forward in planning with the assistance of Norway under the FCPF. Let’s keep our fingers crossed…