– €5m grant from EU for sustainable activities
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, (DPI) – His Excellency Dr Irfaan Ali said the Forest Partnership between Guyana and the European Union is timely and underscores the strong commitment to continuing the bold, ambitious, and innovative programme on climate, the environment, and forests.
The head of state made this assertion at state house during a virtual address, following the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on a Forest Partnership between the European Union and the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.
The activity was held on the sidelines of COP 27 in Egypt.
“This MoU demonstrates our shared values of sustainable forest management and the protection of the environment. It furthers the process of promoting the trade in legally produced timber and timber products.”
This collaboration culminated, with the signing of the ‘Forest Partnership Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), between the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen and the government of Guyana.
The MoU, which underlines the genuine partnership between Guyana and the EU, focuses on long-term sustainability and reflects the unwavering commitment of Guyana to protect its unique rainforest.
With an initial €5M grant from the EU, immediate results are expected in supporting indigenous peoples and local communities, supporting small-scale producers, promoting sustainable trade in forest and agriculture commodities, and building capacity to drive behaviour change. Youth and women are expected to play important roles in the planning and implementation of activities related to the partnership.
The president reminded of the “long and fruitful” cooperation between the EU and Guyana in advancing work on shared priorities in programmes on the environment, sustainability, and forest governance.
The signing, he added, is a continuation of this longstanding collaboration.
President Ali said too that the partnership comes at a time when the world is concerned about the continuing adverse and devastating impacts of climate change and the alarming loss of biodiversity.
“It is fitting that this MoU is being signed during the hosting of the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 27). The Forest Partnership is underpinned by the recognition of the role of Guyana’s pristine forest, to the health and well-being of the global environment.”
He pointed to the local, regional and global importance of Guyana’s forests while outlining that the country has one of the world’s highest rates of forest cover. This, he stressed, is a result of sustainable management.
“Guyana’s forests also provide critical environmental services, including carbon sequestration. They are mainly responsible for Guyana being among the handful of countries that are rated as net carbon sinks, with an estimated storage of 19.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. The economic value of the ecosystem services which our forests alone provide have been estimated at between US$40bn-US$54bn annually.”
Guyana’s strong stewardship
Dr Ali pointed to Guyana’s “visionary” Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2030, which he said is reflective of the country’s continuous strong stewardship on forests, climate, and the environment.
“This ‘strategy’ details how our forests and biodiversity can be maintained whilst the country expands green jobs, transitions the domestic energy supply to clean and renewable energy sources, and adapts to the impact of climate change.”
He added that Guyana’s LCDS 2030 commits Guyana, among other objectives, to complete and implement a Voluntary Partnership Agreement under the European Union Forest Law Enforcement Government and Trade process that would permit the trade in legally forested and certified timber, with European Union members; implement an assurance system for the certification of forest products; maintain low levels of deforestation; expand our mangrove forests and Protected Areas System and enhance watershed protection; while ensuring stakeholder participation in forest governance; and mainstream environmental policies in forest management.
“Guyana, therefore, welcomes this Forest Partnership. It is an integral aspect of our national plans to secure our patrimony, protect our environment and promote sustainable forest management and enhanced livelihoods of our people. Together we can, together we will, and together we must.”
Guyana, along with Mongolia, The Republic of the Congo, the Republic of Uganda, the Republic of Zambia, and the EU signed the Forest Partnerships, providing new, holistic cooperation frameworks for joint work on forests and the activities and communities they harbour.
These partnerships aim to enhance the socio-economic role of forests and their ongoing contribution to climate and biodiversity protection. Forest Partnerships contribute to the EU’s Global Gateway that works to protect people and the planet.
The MoU has four main objectives:
1) increasing the area of protected, restored or sustainably managed forests, including mangroves;
2) increasing the number of forest-related jobs;
3) maintaining the close-to-zero annual rate of deforestation of natural forests; and,
(4) looking for ways to facilitate investment and trade in legal and sustainable wood products between Guyana and the EU.
According to EU ambassador to Guyana, Rene van Nes, Guyana is unique in that it is one of the few countries in the world that has a negative carbon footprint.
Guyana’s minister of natural resources, Vickram Bharrat signed the MoU on behalf of president Ali.