Guyana gets $1.1B to help Indigenous communities create sustainable ventures, save forests


Guyana, on Wednesday, officially launched a new partnership with the European Union (EU) that will see the country getting €5 million (or about GY$1.1 billion) grant funding to help Indigenous communities create sustainable business ventures and overall, preserve the country’s biodiversity-rich forests.

The partnership was inked at the State House, in Georgetown, between President Dr. Irfaan Ali and Deputy Secretary General of European Union External Action Service, Helena Konig.

It follows a Forest Partnership Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed last November on the sidelines of the Conference of the Parties (COP) 27 in Egypt.

According to Konig, Guyana is getting these funds to help Indigenous communities in forested areas become more resilient and pursue profit-making business ventures that sustainably harness natural resources (that is, the forest and the biodiversity found there).

The EEAS Deputy Secretary General said this component of the project is particularly crucial because small, remote communities may be prone to unsustainably exploiting natural resources to meet their needs simply because alternative opportunities are not abundant.

“Not everyone is able to generate sufficient income,” Konig said.

Guyana is benefiting from this grant funding through the Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), because its large, intact forests provide essential services to the world.

And even as Guyana is exploiting its newfound oil and gas resources, the country’s forests are valuable not only to national development but saving the world.

It is known that Guyana has 18.4 million hectares of largely pristine forest, covering more than 87 per cent of the country’s landmass. This gives the country the reputation of having the world’s second-largest percentage of rainforest cover and the second-highest carbon stock per capita globally.

Annually, those trees remove millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. If those trees are cut those gases would be released into the atmosphere, causing great harm to the environment. That harm includes worsening the climate crisis that has contributed to increasing catastrophes like droughts, rising sea levels and flooding.

And so the country’s Head of State posited that partnerships like this forest agreement are needed to help Guyana continue its forest-saving efforts.

“This initiative is essential to our own efforts in creating a low carbon economy and sustaining sustainable livelihoods at the local level,” President Ali said.

He added, “Our forest is not just standing trees, it is an important global asset that provides global services and in the provision of those global services.

“It is only fair that the forest earns for the country and the people who ensure that it stays intact.”

He was keen to note that Guyana’s forest is also home to rich biodiversity, be it plants or animals, and are home to numerous Indigenous people.

Because of the value of the forests, both the President and Deputy Secretary General posited that sustainable forest management should be a priority.

Neighbouring Suriname, which also has a high forest cover, is also getting €5 million. The funding will be used over a four-year period in both countries.

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