The participants were educated on the causes and effects of climate change, as well as actions taken by the Government of Guyana to address this matter.
The session was chaired by the Regional Chairman Lorentino Wilson, and presentations were made by Yvonne Pearson, Advisor to the Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Gitanjali Chandarpal, Head, Office of Climate Change (OCC), and Peter Persaud, Leader of the Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana (TAAMOG) and a member of the Multi Stakeholder Steering Committee.
Persaud indicated that Guyana has earned an international profile for climate action through the work done under its LCDS.
He stated that Guyana is one of the leaders in climate action, and that forests reduce greenhouse gas from the atmosphere which causes global warming and climate change.
He indicated that Guyana’s partnership with Norway is currently scheduled to conclude in 2015, but the two countries are engaged in discussions so that this agreement can continue beyond 2015.
Chandarpal provided an overview of the impacts of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, and global warming both locally and internationally. She indicated that 2014 was the hottest year on record.
Scientific studies have shown that there has been a one Degree Celsius rise in temperature over the last century, which has resulted in changes in precipitation, melting of ice caps, decrease in snow cover and a consequent rise in sea level.
Chandarpal indicated that Guyana has a high concentration of persons living in vulnerable areas, for example, the 2005 floods which occurred as a result of heavy rains in a short period of time, resulted in major losses to the country.
As such, Guyana must understand how climate change affects people and how they can address this problem locally and internationally.
She indicated that the two major factors in addressing climate change are adaptation and mitigation and elaborated on them.
At a global level, some key actions have been taken, one of the most important is the formation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to which Guyana is a signatory.
Chandarpal stated that approximately 87 per cent of Guyana is covered in forests and the country has one of the lowest deforestation rates worldwide.
By protecting its forests, Guyana is strengthening the capacity to cope with this issue of climate change.
She indicated that the LCDS is unique and many countries are moving towards low carbon development.
However addressing climate change is very costly. Fortunately, Guyana has a partnership with Norway where a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in 2009 where Norway has committed to providing to US$ 250 million to Guyana depending on Guyana’s delivery of results as measured against indicators of enabling activities and of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus (REDD+).
To date, Guyana has received US$150 million. Payments earned under the MoU will support a number of key projects including renewable energy initiatives the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project. This project, once developed, is expected to provide the country with renewable energy which is cheaper and will reduce GHG emissions.
Additional projects under the LCDS are the Amerindian Development Fund (ADF), Amerindian Land Titling (ALT), Micro and Small Enterprise Development (MSE), Climate Resilience Adaptation and Water Management, among others.
Chandarpal mentioned that in addressing adaptation several initiatives have been implemented such as the Cunha Canal project which seeks to improve drainage and irrigation (D&I) and flood management and the Climate Resilient Strategy and Action Plan (CRSAP), which is developed by OCC to build climate resilience in the country.
Additionally, under the LCDS there are investments in low carbon sectors such as eco-tourism, aquaculture, sustainable forestry and mining.
Chandarpal noted that that there are other initiatives being undertaken such as the Opt-In Mechanism (OIM) to allow titled Amerindian villages to participate in the national REDD+ model.
Chandarpal said that the LCDS does not intend to stop activities such as mining; however, it seeks to promote sustainable operations in the mining and forestry sectors.
Pearson, in the feature presentation, informed participants that now more than ever, the hinterland communities have been affected by climate change; hence it is important that the residents be informed of the issue, in terms of what is happening in Guyana and around the world.
In this regard, she said awareness sessions are important because Guyana must have an understanding of the impacts of climate change so that actions can be taken in communities.
She reported that Amerindians have been among the first to benefit from the LCDS. In particular, she spoke about the ADF, which is funding Community Development Plans (CDPs) in Amerindian communities across Guyana.
Pearson indicated that the ADF is expected to benefit more than 180 hinterland communities.
In the first Phase of this project, 26 communities were selected and received disbursements to implement their CDPs. She indicated that Amerindians are also benefitting from the ALT Project.
Pearson emphasised that climate change is real and the people must be aware of actions Government is taking to address the issue. She urged participants to continue to use their lands in a sustainable way.
She said that Guyana is a model to the world on how to address climate change. Even with the current agreement with Norway, Guyana is still able to conduct mining and forestry activities in a sustainable manner.
Pearson noted that every year, independent audits are conducted to ensure that Guyana is meeting the conditions of the agreement and to ensure that payments are made.
This is the fourth LCDS awareness session for 2015, conducted by the OCC under the LCDS, the other three sessions were held in Regions Five (Demerara-Berbice) and Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni)