Interview with Martin Antony Bristol, Head of the Project Management Office, Ministry of the Presidency, Guyana. His team is responsible for the Guyana Redd+ Investment Fund , which is a US$250 million fund used for projects that contribute to our reductions in emissions from deforestation and degradation.

How does climate change impact your country and affect people’s lives and the economy?

Even though we are net carbon sink, which means that we have not been part and parcel of the responsibility for the issues associated with climate change, we are definitely a part of the solution. Climate change has been affecting us in terms of flooding. Around 89-90% of the population of Guyana lives on the coastal plain, which suffers from persistent flooding.

In addition to that, we have occasional droughts in the Rupununi area. The weather patterns are affecting agriculture, and the economy as a whole because it affects people’s daily lives and the production. We have been directly affected by climate change and we want to be part of the solution.

We do not have any other choice. The risk is too great. Some time ago, we assessed the economic costs in the coastal plains in terms, and it was astronomical. From waste, garbage, transportation, time that is involved in getting to work, homes flooded, and furniture affected. The livelihood cost of the Guyanese from flooding is a humongous cost.

What key sectors did Guyana chose to select for its national climate plan?

In Guyana’s national climate plan (or Nationally Determined Contribution – NDC), the focus is primarily on the forestry and the energy sectors. We have been a signatory of the Paris Agreement and hope to achieve close to 100 percent renewable energy by 2025. We have been making progress in both the conditional and unconditional commitments made under the forestry sector. In fact, Guyana has reported the lowest deforestation rate for the past five years.

We have been moving ahead with building our benefit sharing platform under the Carbon Partnership Fund, which is also looking into how benefits are shared as part of keeping our standing forests for the purpose of carbon sequestration.

Additionally, we have drafted a renewable energy transition roadmap and have worked on an MRV system. We signed the Voluntary Partnership Agreement under the EU FLEGT program, which seeks to reduce illegal logging by strengthening sustainable forest management, improve governance and promote trade in legally produced timber.

In my country monitoring, reporting, and verification of the standing forest is a quite expensive exercise. But it’s an exercise that we saw as important to invest in; both as part of our partnership with Norway under the Guyana-Norway agreement, and as part of our green economy that we are developing. We hope to continue along the lines of payment for ecosystem services.

Forestry seems to be an important sector for Guyana. How will it figure into your national plans to reduce emissions?

Our original involvement of becoming a REDD country under the UNFCCC framework has been beneficial for us. We benefited from the experience while developing our NDC and launching our benefit sharing platform, but were also able to bring in the experience for developing projects that reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation.

This culminated into a major reflection in the low-carbon component of the Green State Development Strategy. Our bilateral partnership with Norway on the REDD+ issues – which includes in a major way our commitment under the Paris Agreement, aims at meeting close to 100 percent renewable energy by 2025.

Does Guyana have a long-term strategy?

We recently completed Vision 2040, our national development strategy takes us from 2019 to 2039. It is a 20-year plan that focuses on inclusiveness, low carbon, low emissions, and it covers sectors beyond the forestry and transport sector, indeed all sectors where we can reduce emissions.

The Green State Development Strategy incorporates the vision of the Guyanese people as we move forward. Our NDC is included in the strategy, as is our SDGs pathway. We hope that by the end of 2030 we should be able to do an evaluation to tell us where we are on those goals.

How do you ensure an inclusive process for the planning and implementation of your climate plan?

We have institutionalized consultations and participation. It is a critical part of how we engage with the indigenous communities in terms of the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) . It is also part of how we develop national strategies and plans. We’ve the Green Multi-stakeholder Steering Committee which looks at this broadly at the higher level, and as you go down, we’ve established various layers of consultations, subject to the time and resources available. Overall, the consultation and participation platform are integrally involved in how we pursue the national development goals.

 

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