–Amerindian leaders say, welcome initiative by government to earn from the preservation of Guyana’s forests
Amerindian communities are set to receive at least US$112 million from Guyana’s first sale of carbon credits, and village leaders are looking forward to the funds being expended to further bridge the divide in the delivery of services between the coastland and hinterland.
“It will place us in the proper direction for development,” Micah Davis, Toshao of Toka Village in the North Rupununi, said in an invited comment.
He added: “This is the biggest amount I’ve ever seen being given directly to Amerindian communities. I don’t think that such a huge amount has ever happened to us, not that I know of.”
Utilities, particularly water and electricity, are some of the key areas Davis is looking forward to seeing funding being directed towards, as the hinterland communities tap into their well-deserved resources.
“Government is already providing some amount for the communities, but there are a lot of areas that people need development in, in terms of electricity and water supply. There’s also agriculture. A lot of agriculture development is going on in the communities also but the weather conditions have put a lot of communities under strain right now. The weather condition a lot of persons suffering from loss of crop,” he said.
The share that the Amerindian villages will be receiving comes as no surprise, as the government had pledged that 15 per cent of Guyana’s carbon market earnings will be distributed directly to indigenous communities for village-led plans and programmes.
However, the Toshaos are, nonetheless, heartened by the government’s commitment to continuous development.
“When they were campaigning, they said they would develop Amerindian communities, and that’s what we expected. So, to hear about it now is not too surprising because we believe that the government would do what they say. They started delivering on promises since early, and we continue to depend and believe in them,” Toshao Desmond James related.
James is the Toshao of Red Hill in Mabaruma Region One (Barima-Waini). He sees the money as going a long way in helping to develop the education and health sectors in the indigenous communities.
“It will be real good for us, a big help for everyone. I’m sure everyone will be glad to hear about it, it will very useful at this time, our villages would be able to upgrade themselves. Everything would be coming to the hinterland, just like the coastland out there, we wouldn’t have that difference between the hinterland and the coastland,” he said.
It was on Friday that Guyana signed the purchase agreement with oil giant Hess Corporation to sell 30 per cent of the country’s high-quality, REDD+ jurisdictional carbon credits for at least US$750 million.
The signed deal marks a huge achievement in Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), which outlines how Guyana’s lush forest resources would be sustainably leveraged to advance the country’s developmental efforts.
The government had tabled an updated LCDS – LCDS 2030 – in the National Assembly in August. The updated strategy was crafted after consultations with Guyana’s Indigenous Peoples, who traditionally occupy many of the forested areas.
Toshaos, played an important role in producing the village plans, which underpin locally-led efforts for investment in priorities identified by villages themselves, to progress the overall objectives of LCDS 2030.
In August 2022, the National Toshao Council (NTC) passed a resolution in support of the LCDS 2030 and its proposals for sharing the benefits of potential revenues from the sale of carbon credits in the voluntary carbon markets.
On behalf of his colleagues Chairman of the NTC, Toshao Derrick John, welcomed Guyana’s signing of the agreement with Hess Corporation, calling it an important milestone for Guyana’s programme on low-carbon development.
“As the national body which represents all elected Indigenous villages leaders in Guyana, the NTC is pleased that Guyana is pioneering efforts on climate finance that will bring direct benefits to Indigenous peoples in advancing climate resilience and sustainable livelihood opportunities,” John said.
Executive Director of the Amerindian People’s Association (APA), Jean La Rose, is also looking forward to seeing the Amerindian communities prudently manage the resources to bring about their overall development.
“I’m still absorbing what it really means. The bottom line of all of this is that Indigenous people need to understand in the long term what they seek to have being input into their communities, because there’s so many things,” La Rose said.
She related: “Indigenous communities need a lot of support. You can talk about infrastructure for the communities, economic support for the communities, vocational institutions for the communities, there can be focus on women and youth, particularly and addressing some of the social issues affecting the communities.”