Govt to tap into remaining US$54M in REDD+ Fund this year
…most of money to go towards climate change mitigation
With US$54 million remaining in the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF), used to collect money from Norway for forest climate change services, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) intends to tap into this money this year to fund climate change mitigation efforts.
This is according to Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh, who, during his recent budget presentation, also announced that total current revenue flowing into the GRIF in 2021 was Gy$265.8 billion, 16.7 per cent more than the 2020 revenue.
According to Finance Minister Singh, the US$54 million balance received from Norway as well as investment income would in 2022 be invested towards institutional strengthening and building in Regions Five and Six major new outfall channels that are similar to the Hope Canal.
Between May and June of last year, torrential rains resulted in widespread flooding across the country, affecting thousands of households. The devastation included submerged buildings and vehicles, with adverse effects on crops, livestock and health. It has been noted that the rainfall experienced in May alone was recorded as the second highest level of rainfall across the country in the last 40 years.
All 10 administrative regions in Guyana experienced varied levels of flooding, prompting Government to roll out immediate responses, such as evacuation of those most at risk, and flood assistance.
However, the PPP Government has credited the presence of the Hope Canal, which was commissioned in 2014, with the avoidance of significant flooding on the East Coast of Demerara.
According to the Finance Minister, it is time to focus on the future of climate service revenue, most likely a reference to carbon credits.
“This final allocation of the amount earned through the Guyana-Norway partnership means that this year will see the first phase of Guyana’s LCDS draw to a close. It also means that Guyana can now pivot away from catching up and repairing damage, and instead we can refocus on a vision for the future,” Minister Singh said.
In his presentation, Dr. Singh explained that during the tenure of the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government, monies accumulated in the fund were not only left unallocated, but other climate-related programmes that had started before 2015 slowed down and effectively stopped.
“At the heart of our original and pioneering Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) was a mechanism to monetise the value of forest climate services, under which Guyana was eligible to earn up to US$250 million through a partnership with the Government of Norway.
“Regrettably, during the period 2015 to 2020, over US$135 million of those revenues, well over half of what had been earned, was ignored and left unallocated… moreover, work to integrate with global carbon markets did not advance. Since resuming office, the task of repairing these failures and recovering from the lost years has begun,” the Finance Minister explained.
It was further explained that, in Budget 2021, the Government unblocked over US$85 million of the US$137 million that had been left unallocated. The Finance Minister explained that as a result, work has now been resumed on solar energy, Amerindian land titling, Information Communication Technology (ICT) access for the hinterland, and sustainable land management projects funded through the GRIF.
“The benefits of all these investments will fully materialise over the course of this year and early 2023, and these benefits will last long into the future, bringing economic and social benefit to tens of thousands of Guyanese,” he explained.
Guyana had, in 2009, signed with Norway a historic forest protection accord aimed at Guyana receiving payments for sustaining its rainforests to absorb global carbon emissions. A total of US$250 million was to be paid to Guyana over a five-year period.
Under GRIF, the investment fund set up to receive and coordinate these payments, projects identified included grants to small businesses, a centre for biodiversity studies, ICT for vulnerable communities, and Amerindian land-titling. (G3)