in Guyana, Norway

REDD rubber hits the road in Guyana: skid-marks a-plenty

Last week, the Government of Norway signed an agreement at the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington setting up the “Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund” (GRIF). Like much else in the brave new world of REDD, the deal raises more questions than answers.

REDD-Monitor received the following anonymous commentary on the Norway-Guyana deal. It is posted here unedited.

REDD-Monitor would like to suggest some background music for this post. Roger Waters clearly wasn’t thinking of the president of a small Latin American state when he wrote the song in the early 1970s, but it seems strangely appropriate to President Bharrat Jagdeo’s political philosophy: “Money, it’s a hit. Don’t give me that do goody good bullshit.”

REDD rubber hits the road in Guyana: skid-marks a-plenty

On October 9th, the governments of Guyana and Norway, and the World Bank, announced that they had concluded negotiations on the establishment of the ‘Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund’ – through which Norway’s promised REDD funding for Guyana will flow, a potential US$250 million by 2015. The announcement stated that the first payment of $30 million from Norway was now “being processed”.
Whilst this development will no doubt come as a massive relief to President Jagdeo – who has staked much political capital on Norwegian funding for his so-called national Low Carbon Development Strategy – anyone interested in seeing REDD succeed as a credible concept should be deeply troubled by almost every aspect of what has recently transpired in Guyana. As some observers have been predicting, Norway’s largesse looks set to result in increased deforestation and forest degradation, and a worsening of the corruption which tarnishes almost every aspect of government in Guyana.
The Norwegian government itself looks to be particularly culpable. Its November 2009 Memorandum of Understanding with Guyana was quickly criticised, because of the artificially high interim ‘base-line’ rate of deforestation, which was set at possibly 50 per cent greater than the actual rate, opening the possibility that deforestation could rise, but the country still receive REDD payments, as the President readily acknowledged. Nevertheless, the agreement held out the promise that the government of Bharrat Jagdeo could be brought into a transparent and progressive process resulting in the country embarking on a lower carbon emissions development path.
Central to the Norway-Guyana MoU was the establishment of the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF). Under the MoU, the expenditure of all money entering the Fund from Norway would be subject to the “safeguards as well as fiduciary and operational policies” of the organisation appointed to run the GRIF – which, it was later agreed, would be the World Bank. But this arrangement has proven uncomfortable for President Jagdeo, who has repeatedly and publicly castigated the Bank for delays and complications in releasing any funding. Quietly caving in to pressure from Jagdeo, and contravening the terms of the MoU, the Norwegians agreed a new approach for the GRIF, such that the “safeguards and operational policies” of other international funding partners for Guyana’s ‘low carbon development’ projects could be applied, rather than just the more onerous requirements of the World Bank – even if such safeguards were substantially weaker or even non-existent.

Synergy's bulldozers and road-building equipment

The Government of Norway's contribution towards forest protection in Guyana: Synergy’s bulldozers and road-building equipment shortly after it arrived in Guyana in August

This might not be so problematic, were the policies of those other institutions actually applied. But the very first project to be funded under Norway’s funding through the GRIF – an access road to the site of a proposed hydroelectric dam at the Amaila Falls on the River Kuribong river, deep in Guyana’s rainforest – appears to have circumvented any safeguards altogether.
The Amaila Falls project, and particularly the necessary 110km new access road to it, has been mired in controversy from the outset. The proposed dam is a pet project of President Jagdeo, and long predates the country’s ‘Low Carbon Development Strategy’. Experts in the country have questioned the economic rationale for the scheme, warning that it could saddle the nation with more international debt and tie it into buying expensive electricity from the dam’s operators, through weaknesses in both the construction project and the power purchase agreements. However, despite the potential for the dam to cause the flooding of a substantial area of forest, Norway’s promised REDD funding has provided the perfect platform to get the project off the ground.
Immediate concerns have focused on the construction of the new access road to Amaila Falls, the US $15.4 million contract for which was inexplicably awarded to a Florida-based real estate dealer, Makeshwar Fip Motilall, whose company, Synergy Holdings Inc, has no previous experience of building either roads or hydro-electric schemes. Synergy has never operated at such a scale in difficult terrain such as Guyana’s interior. Local observers and experts detect the whiff of corruption; the Government’s National Industrial and Commercial Investment agency, NICIL, has been unable to explain how Synergy was awarded the contract against four other competitors, even though it appears to fail every eligibility test. A US$3 million ‘security bond’ for the construction of the road has been issued to Synergy by the ‘Hand-in-Hand Insurance’ company – which relies heavily on government business – also under unclear circumstances. Synergy has subsequently received a US$1.5 million loan from Government and exemption from import duty on apparently second-hand road-building equipment, which has already been imported and has been standing ready for several weeks.
Approval for construction of the road to proceed – which will involve the clearing of an estimated 6,000 hectares of rainforest – was granted by the Ministry of Public Works on October 5th, though the government announced only on 11th October (two days after announcing the establishment of the REDD+ Investment Fund) that works would proceed this week. The government-owned propaganda sheet, the Guyana Chronicle, today claimed that the road works had received a “positive review by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) of key environmental and social aspects and the contractor’s Environmental & Social Management Plan (ESMP)” – though the IDB has so far declined to confirm that it is even funding the dam or the road, or whether either have complied with the Bank’s project safeguard policies; all that the IDB has agreed so far is co-funding of the environmental and social impact studies.
The President of Guyana has reiterated that all REDD+ projects and his LCDS schemes will be subject to the free, prior and informed consent of affected indigenous Amerindians – but there is no evidence that the Amerindian rights over the Amaila Falls access road route or the dam reservoir area have even been mapped, let alone subject to a FPIC process, although they are guaranteed by Guyana’s Amerindian Act 2006.
Although the World Bank manages the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund, and will be passing on the Norwegian REDD money to the government of Guyana to start the clearing of the rainforest road, it has disavowed any responsibility for application of its safeguard policies, even though it was required to apply them under the Guyana-Norway MoU. Subsequent to the November 2009 MoU, the financial safeguards have been slackened by putting the Norwegian funds into a new arrangement, a Financial Intermediary Fund (FIF), similar to the World Bank’s Haiti post-earthquake reconstruction fund. The World Bank then simply acts as a cash box for the yet-to-be-appointed ‘Partner Entity’, which will come to a mutually acceptable arrangement with the Government of Guyana about environmental and social safeguards and fiduciary due diligence. It is thus unclear how Norwegian money can be passed to Guyana this week, without the formal appointment of a Partner Entity, a role which the World Bank has also explicitly disavowed.
The starting-up of any projects under the Norway GRIF also contravenes the MoU in two other important respects. According to the agreement, and the stated intentions of the Norwegian government at the time, any payments to Guyana would be “results-based” – the terms of which were set out clearly in the agreement. As yet, however, not even basic mechanisms have been established to determine whether Guyana is reducing its forest-based carbon emissions (or, more likely, increasing them within the limit of the artificially high base-line rate). In fact, only in August, the Guyanese government announced the awarding of a new 167,000 hectare ‘pre-harvest’ logging concession (a ‘State Forest Exploratory Permit’) in unexploited forest to a new company, Sherwood Forrest Incorporated, which will further require the construction of an access road variously stated as 120 or 250 km in length. Norway’s ‘International Forests and Climate Initiative’ has not stated how the likely substantial carbon emissions from this operation will be monitored and assessed and any financial penalty for the Guyanese government calculated.
Worse still is that the release of funds through the GRIF also by-passes an important safeguard that was ordered by the MoU. Under the agreement, “commencement and annual continuity of result-based financial support from Norway will depend on agreed progress” regarding seven “factors”, which were defined in the agreement. The task of assessing whether Guyana had complied with these seven factors was to be delegated to a “neutral expert organization” which will “provide an annual status report for the Governments of Norway and Guyana”. In this status report, the ‘neutral organization’ will “outline its independent assessment of all Participants in the REDD+ process, and make recommendations for process and capability improvements. This will include an assessment of whoever is selected as the administrator of GRIF.”
By means which are not clear, this independent auditor task has been handed to the New York-based ‘not for profit’, the Rainforest Alliance. On October 6th – a mere three days before the Government of Guyana and the World Bank proclaimed the start-up of the GRIF – the Rainforest Alliance announced [pdf file 86.3 KB] that it was “implementing this review as of October 4. The review will include information gathering in Guyana during the period from Sunday, October 10 to Saturday October 16” – i.e. after the start of the GRIF had already been approved and the first project given the go-ahead.
The appointment of the Rainforest Alliance to monitor Guyana’s progress in preparing for Norway’s REDD funding raises yet further questions. The organisation has a dismal record in forest sector auditing, and numerous of its certificates under the Forest Stewardship Council have been challenged or proven highly controversial. It has a disturbing track record of certifying operations as ‘environmentally acceptable, socially beneficial and economically sustainable’ that later prove not only unsustainable but also illegal. Quite how ‘neutral’ the Rainforest Alliance would prove is also open to question: it has as recently as 2008 been seeking business in Guyana for its logging certification subsidiary, SmartWood, and would also no doubt very much like to open new markets for its REDD ‘verification’ services. Worse still, one of Rainforest Alliance’s Guyana assessment team, Dr Gary Clarke, is also a director of the new logging operation, Sherwood Forrest Incorporated. The Norwegian government has not yet stated whether it considers that the Rainforest Alliance team is sufficiently ‘neutral’, but the conflicts of interest look very clear to most outsiders.
Altogether, even before the first dollar of Norway’s money has been disbursed, REDD in Guyana has descended into a morass of broken agreements, dodgy backroom deals, conflicts of interest, lack of transparency, failure to uphold basic safeguards and due process, and strong grounds to suspect corruption. Rather than Norway’s REDD funding raising the quality and transparency of decision-making in Guyana, what seems to have happened is that the government of Norway and the other international ‘partners’ have sunk to the dismal level of Guyana’s governance. Norway used to have a reputation for upholding indigenous rights, but even that seems to have been abandoned along with other principles.
Quite why the Norwegian government is willing to tolerate the inevitable consequences of all this is hard to fathom. It has been aware of every aspect of this slide into abuse of REDD, yet it has done nothing. The pressure to disburse its overall $2.6 billion REDD funding pot is clearly huge – even at the expense of damaging the credibility of REDD, wasting its taxpayers’ money, and potentially fuelling corruption and graft in Guyana. Bharrat Jagdeo, meanwhile, will no doubt be relishing the prospect of a comfortable retirement when he steps down as president in 2011, and anticipating that his party in power will benefit from the no-questions-asked money now flowing from Oslo.

UPDATE – 13 October 2010: Photographs of Synergy’s bulldozers and road-building equipment added and link to the 12 October 2010 Guyana Chronicle article, “Amaila hydro access road construction to begin this week.” Also added a link to Rainforest Alliance’s 6 October 2010 notice, “Verification of Guyana REDD+ Enabling Activities Reporting” (pdf file 86.3 KB).

Leave a Reply


  1. “We are giving the world a workable model for climate change collaboration between North and South,” said Erik Solheim, Norway’s minister of environment and international development, in a statement. “It’s not perfect, but it’s good, and it will be improved upon as we learn and develop together.”

    I agree with him. You have to start somewhere.

  2. The writer of this piece is 100% incorrect in stating that the Amaila Access road will be funded from GRIF funds. Secondly he alludes to the fact that by using Partner Entities the Government of Guyana and Norway are somehow circumventing safeguards? Does that mean that the IDB and UNDP do not have sufficiently satisfactory safeguards?

  3. How can the Norwegian Minister claim that “its” a workable model when from all indications the entire process is fraught with corruption from the inception; both on the part of the Governments of Norway and Guyana, given both are in violation of the terms and conditions of the MOU. And in addition the World Bank is ‘washing its hands’ off of any responsibility.

    So where are the checks and balances for the millions of Norwegians taxpayers dollars?

  4. @Chris Lang & Concerned

    I in general enjoy reading the articles on REDD-monitor but sometimes they are overcritical.

    In my opinion Rainforest Alliance is not per se a bad option for the demanded ‘neutral expert organization’. Gary Clarke working there does not imply that the whole monitoring will be biased.

    It is also questionable if the given information on where the GRIF money goes is correct (as John Lewis states). Sources would be helpful.

    I also wonder where the numbers come from for the base-line that is ‘possibly 50 % above current deforestation rate’. FAO’s recently published Forest Resource Assesment does not tell any deforestation rates for Guyana…

  5. @cleibing – I agree you have to start somewhere. But this may be a workable model in the sense that it gives the appearance of doing something. I agree that it’s not perfect but that doesn’t make it any good. It’s not helping address climate change. If anything it’s exacerbating it.

    It may well be improved on, if only because it surely can’t get much worse. Breaching the MoU, throwing safeguards out of the window, funding projects that increase forest destruction rather than reduce it and allowing the Director of a logging company to verify that everything is above board seems to me like the wrong place to start. I wonder why you agree with Solheim?

  6. @ cleibing

    Yes, you are correct: the FAO records a zero deforestation rate for Guyana, which makes the agreement by the Norwegian government to adopt a 0.45% baseline rate for deforestation even more inexplicable – and the scope for Guyana to *increase* deforestation but still get paid REDD money even greater.

    However, experts in the country believe that the real rate of deforestation is probably somewhere between 0.1% and 0.3% per year. On this basis, the 50% inflation of the baseline rate is a conservative estimate.

  7. @Chris Lang
    You make a valid point about the conflict of interest that arises for companies that earn their money with CDM/REDD audits. But this would apply for any company that makes their money with this kind of services. What alternative do you suggest?

    To invest money from GRIF to finance a hydroelectricity project might effectively reduce Guyana’s GHG emissions but I wonder what this has to do with REDD too.

    Thanks also for your link to the previous REDD-monitor post. Its still not clear to me how the current deforestation rate for Guyana, that arguably might be below 0.45 %, was calculated.

  8. @John Lewis – Could you please provide a source for your claim that the Amaila Access road will be not funded from GRIF funds.

    On 1 October 2010, Stabroek News reported Jagdeo as saying that

    “Since early 2009 we’ve been selling forest package services and though six months late the first payment of US$30 million is now being processed. It will be deposited in the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) in the next 10 days… The first payment enables us to get started with removing our entire economy from fossil fuel dependence … and will form part of the government’s investment in the hydroelectricity plant at the Amaila Falls.”

    The point about the safeguards is that the President Jagdeo has persuaded the World Bank not to apply its safeguard policies. The Bank’s safeguard policies are stronger than those of the IDB and UNDP. The World Bank cannot simply put aside its safeguards for those of other institutions, just because the government receiving the money (Guyana in this case) asks it to do so.

  9. I just read you last comment. I think the 0% in FRA 2010 indicate that the time series for Guyana was not complete and a deforestation rate could thus not be calculated. I might be wrong though.

  10. @cleibing – Rainforest Alliance faces a conflict of interest, putting aside Gary Clarke’s role for a moment. If the company is very critical of Guyana it is far less likely to be hired by other countries to carry out similar verification operations. There’s an interesting article on the New York Times website about carbon trading that outlines a similar problem with Clean Development Mechanism audits:

    But it quickly became clear that auditors were faced with a conflict of interest: although they were required to be impartial, their reputation — as well as their market share — would be determined by the number of proposals that they approved for accreditation. Auditors had an incentive to accept the claims of the project manager without too much inspection.

    As I pointed out in the comment above President Jagdeo says that GRIF money “will form part of the government’s investment in the hydroelectricity plant at the Amaila Falls.”

    In November 2009, REDD-Monitor posted this, Guyana could be paid for increasing deforestation: Jagdeo, about how deforestation could actually increase under the Norway-funded deal:

    Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo admitted that under the deal the rate of deforestation in Guyana could actually increase. When asked whether Guyana will be allowed to increase deforestation under the agreement, Jagdeo said “Basically, yes.” Under the Memorandum of Understanding, signed by Jagdeo and Norway’s Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim, Norway will pay Guyana if the deforestation rate is less than 0.45 per cent. But the current rate of deforestation in Guyana is well below that figure.

  11. @cleibing

    The FRA figures are essentially self-reported: if there are data for any given country, then it is the fault of the government of the country concerned. In the case of Guyana, the government has been claiming for many years that the country has no, or minimal, deforestation. The shame is that, despite having had every opportunity (with international support) to establish a credible national forest monitoring system, the government has consistently failed to do so.

    (What you seem to fail to understand is that, until the advent of REDD, and the prospect presented by the World Bank and the Government of Norway that money could be gained by doing absolutely nothing, the country’s forests were of absolutely no interest whatsoever to President Jagdeo, other than as a source of licit and illicit revenues from gold and timber.)

    Whilst the deforestation rate in Guyana clearly is not zero, nobody (including President Jagdeo and the Government of Norway) believes that the real rate is as high as 0.45% per year. This figure was, it is believed, taken as the global average for tropical deforestation – though why this would be at all relevant for the purpose of establishing a “performance-based” REDD system in Guyana case was never explained.

    The underlying problem that the Government of Norway failed to address was that it was paying for a ‘reducing emissions from deforestation’ scheme in a country where there was almost no deforstation to start with. If they had been a bit less rushed (for entirely political reasons) to sign an agreement and get the money out of the door, then they might have come up with a more credible payment scheme.

  12. @an author

    Ahh and I always thought the 20 guys working for FAO’s forestry department were doing all the inventories for FRA and SOFO themselves. Thanks also for explaining me Guyana’s non existent interest in almost 80% of their land cover.

    I think the term in you last paragraph should be ‘reducing emissions from *avoided* deforestation’. In a country with a historical low deforestation rate changing nothing is essentially the idea of REDD.

  13. @ cleibing

    Well, clearly, you can’t ‘reduce’ emissions if there are none to start with, so ‘reducing emissions from *avoided* deforestation’ is a non-sequiter.

    What I think you are effectively saying is that the country should have been paid on some kind of payment for ecosystems service (PES) basis, rather than on a fictitious ‘avoided deforestation’ basis, and perhaps this would indeed have been better. President Jagdeo has certainly been publicly arguing that a ‘payment for ecosystems services’ is what he should be receiving, though this seems to have more to do with circumventing the due diligence requirements of the World Bank/Norwegian government than anything to do with the technical/logical merits of the various payment options.

    Also, Mr Jagdeo has probably not appreciated that any rigorous PES scheme would have to take into account the vast amounts of carbon that are being spewed out by the industrial logging operations that he and his government have strongly encouraged, as well as the forest devastation caused mostly by itinerant gold miners, from which his regime also greatly benefits. Together, according to the detailed calculations published by the pre-eminent Guyanese forest expert, Dr Janette Bulkan, consitute something like two-thirds of the TOTAL carbon emissions for Guyana – yet they are completely ignored in all the ‘REDD’ plans so far tabled, including the agreement with Norway.

  14. PES is what you pay for when the forests are standing up; REDD is what you do (so the theory goes) when they’ve started falling down.

    The difference is basically the difference between paying for carbon in a STORE of forest; or paying for the abatement of EMISSIONS from deforestation.

    The reason why these should not be confused is precisely because of the kind of problems now being enountered in Guyana – in terms of having to create fictitious and non-cerdible baselines – which will be encountered in paying *any* low-deforestation countries to ‘reduce emissions’ that don’t really exist.

    The problem with paying forested countries for the ‘ecosystem service’ of keeping carbon *stored* in their forests is that there is very little difference, in principle, between this and paying countries like Saudi Arabia to keep their oil stored under ground. No such payment scheme could ever work on a global scale, for obvious reasons.

  15. @an author

    Nicely explained, thanks! So how would in your opinion a country with a rather sound forest conservation policy like e.g. Costa Rica benefit from REDD?

  16. Though it should be clarified and reiterated that, as noted before, substantial forest carbon emissions DO exist in Guyana – from degradation due to industrial logging, and damage caused by gold mining – but the Norwegian government and World Bank have allowed these to be ignored. Indeed they are not addressed in the President’s so-called Low Carbon Development Strategy, presumably because President Jagdeo does not want to tangle with the vested economic interests, or licit and illicit flows of revenue, that are these emissions represent.

    So, we have a REDD plan that doesn’t reduce the emissions that DO exist, potentially paying money over when the emissions are actually increasing, based on transfers to projects that have by-passed all forms of environmental, social and fiduciary safeguards, through mechanisms that have been established in breach of the stated agreement, in advance of the prescribed independent ‘progress auditing’, which is going to be conducted by an ‘independent’ body that appears to be mired in conflict of interest.

    Not a bad achievement, if you want to get REDD off to the worst possible start…

  17. @cleibing

    It’s a good question. I don’t think anyone has come up with a particularly credible answer to this yet.

  18. 1) Above comments on Rainforest Alliance in REDD Monitor were passed on to us by another party. We do not plan to engage in a continuous “to and fro” with Mr. Lang on these issues as such a dynamic has not proven constructive in the past. The anonymous nature of the submission passed on by REDD Monitor and Mr. Lang make accountability and follow up even more difficult. A brief response to the posting is provided below, responding to inaccurate statements that relate to Rainforest Alliance in the REDD Monitor posting. We do not anticipate further postings.
    2) SmartWood is a program of Rainforest Alliance; not a subsidiary.
    3) The Guyana verification process that we are implementing is through a contract with the government of Norway. The contract was awarded to the Rainforest Alliance following an open, international tender competition, adhering to Norwegian public tendering regulations.
    4) Our verification field work and process was publicly announced prior to field work. Numerous meetings have been held with civil society, conservation organizations, government, individuals with varying political affiliations, businesses and other stakeholders. More meetings and other inputs from stakeholders are continuing to occur at this time, inside and outside Guyana.
    5) As of July 2009 Dr. Gary Clarke was no longer a director of the Sherwood Forest operation. He has also been an advisor to environmental organizations and many other parties devoted to forest conservation and management, with many years of experience in Guyana. He brings to our team an objective perspective on forest and forestry issues in Guyana – something that stakeholders of different stripes have also mentioned, in unsolicited fashion, during field work and comments received to date.
    6) The ultimate result of the verification audit that Rainforest Alliance is conducting in Guyana will be a public report.
    7) In at least 2 occasions in the past Chris Lang has alleged that Rainforest Alliance/SmartWood has FSC-certified operations with illegal activities and there is constant repetition by Mr. Lang of these claims. Despite intensive follow-up and on the ground investigations in both cases by Rainforest Alliance and, independently by other parties, in neither case did the allegations prove true. Public statements on the due diligence done by Rainforest Alliance have been provided, in multiple languages where appropriate.
    8) Rainforest Alliance has consistently responded to legitimate issues raised about any certification or verification (FSC or otherwise) we have done. Where presented with solid evidence, we will continue to do so. We welcome any and all submissions. Please send to

  19. @ an atuhor

    May be you find this interesting as well then. Costa Rica base-line scenario for REDD would incorporate the following.

    From the little REDD book:

    “To avoid the creation of any perverse incentives that may deteriorate ongoing programmes or planned efforts, Parties should support early action of developing countries by ensuring that any emissions reductions obtained during the period from 1990 to the start of any future agreement on REDD can be used to assist in achieving future compliance. Reference emission levels should be estimated using historical data for changes in forest cover area, and IPCC procedures to estimate associated carbon stocks and carbon stock changes. Developing countries with early policy approaches that have led to reduced deforestation rates should be permitted to adjust their reference emission levels to a date appropriate to national circumstances.”

    This means that their historical deforestation rate of 0.76 % from 1990-2000 (FRA 2010)could be used as their base-line. As long as they perform better on a national level they would be eligible for REDD funds. They could increase their current deforestation rate which is actually an afforesation rate (0.9 %) and still receive funds. The distinction line to a PES scheme gets very blurry in my opinion.

  20. The National Amerindian Development Foundation (NADF) and The Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana (TAAMOG) view with concern the contents in this article and conclude that it as an irresponsible commentary from an unidentified source and take an anti-government anti development tone. It also stamps the elected governments of Guyana and Norway as vision less with intent to defraud and mired in corruption which they cannot prove.
    REDD monitor has not played the role it says it is designed for, rather it is creating a forum to cheaply promote its own agenda using inaccurate information for which it cannot establish a source. When organisations, agencies and even individuals sink into a black hole … it is an indicator of frustration, malice and intellectual bankruptcy. It’s funny and laughable how things take a round about turn for some like REDD Monitor, we are positive that in the long term REDD+ in Guyana will make a difference for citizens and surprise them again just as GRIF surprised many.
    NADF and TAAMOG fully support the establishment of GRIF and its future role. There is no evidence to support or lead to an assumption that Norway and Guyana have disbanded the principles of upholding Indigenous people’s rights. Guyana has an international reputation as having a functioning ‘Amerindian act’ which has safe guards that have not been compromised or breached in the pursuance of the LCDS, REDD+ or GRIF. In all instances full consultations were conducted with the Guyanese stakeholders, our government invested thoroughly in the Indigenous population, making them the most consulted group in Guyana, so where does evidence point to disbandment of Indigenous People’s rights?

  21. Anonymous commentary/writing? Someone wants to pollute cyber with writings of the unknown… dead person/s maybe. Expending precious time responding to a confused anonymous writer/s means joining crabs in a barrel which NADF and TAAMOG cannot afford. REDD Monitor must understand that in a critique world, identity is foremost. The anonymous nature of the commentary leaves much to be desired, it did not demonstrated a constructive engagement or opened avenues for discussions, so this leaves us with one option .. To dis-engage. Our music ?? ‘Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back no more, no more, no more, no more’ written by the big man himself, a man with an identity, he did not keep himself anonymous.

  22. @Ashton Simon

    When was the last time you complained about the persistent use of pseudonymous/anonymous writings and commentary in the Guyanese press as a means for the Jagdeo government to convey its views and propaganda?

  23. The Government of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative welcomes all constructive input to its operations.

    We do not, however, intend to respond to claims made by anonymous sources and published by publications allowing such claims to be published without reference to sources or documentation, without checking the truth content of allegations and without inviting involved Parties to respond. Such a dialogue could hardly be constructive.

    We will, however, present some clarifying facts on the Guyana – Norway Partnership on Climate and Forest. We do not anticipate further postings.

    1. The Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) was established only a few days ago. No decisions have been made regarding how the funds will be spent other than Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy being the framework for potentially eligible activities under the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund.

    2. No money will flow directly from Norway to Guyana. Norwegian funds will be transferred to the GRIF, which will disperse funds only after consensus decisions in its board, and only to projects that are found to meet the safeguards and operational policies of the partner entities(the WB, IDB and UNDP are the first institutions invited as partner entities).

    3. In order to be eligible for any funding from 2011 onwards, Guyana must report annually on the set of enabling activities set out in the MOU and Joint Concept Note. These documents are publicly available at the Norwegian Governments website: and on Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy-webpage: Guyana’s report will be subject to verification by an independent third party.

    4. Because of delays in the tender process on the Norwegian side, Norway is making an exception for the disbursement for 2010, which will be transferred to the GRIF before the third party verification of the enabling activities are done. This is not ideal and is an exception, but necessary to be able to start the work this year. The enabling activities and the deforestation and forest degradation measurements will be reported on and verified before any 2011 disbursements are made. Payment will be based on verified performance.

    5. The size of the Norwegian contribution will be dependent on Guyana’s results in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation below the agreed reference level. Importantly: While the reference level is set higher than Guyanas historical deforestation rate, the MOU explicitly states Norwegian support is also dependent on no national-level increase in deforestation over an agreed level that should be as close to historical levels as is reasonable. The “agreed level” will be set this month, based on a forthcoming study on historical deforestation levels in Guyana. The study is undertaken by Poyry of New Zealand after an open competitive tender process.

    6. A detailed set of indicators for emissions caused by deforestation and forest degradation is established in the Joint Concept Note. The note describes how Guyana’s performance on these indicators will impact on the results based financial support from Norway. Guyana will report annually on its performance towards these indicators.

    7. A technical note explaining the rationale behind the much discussed 0,45% reference level is also available at the Norwegian Government’s webpage

  24. @Per Frederick Pharo

    “No decisions have been made regarding how the funds will be spent other than Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy being the framework for potentially eligible activities under the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund”.

    How odd then that only yesterday, the Government-run propaganda sheet the Guyana Chronicle ran this story, announcing in some detail what your Norwegian government money is going to be spent on, not only this year, but also next – a large portion of it going to the Amaila Falls dam, for which there is STILL no environmental and social impact study, and no recognition of Amerindian tenure rights.

    Mr Jagdeo and his crowd appear to be ‘running rings’ around you…

  25. Per Fredrik Pharo
    “How odd then that only yesterday, the Government-run propaganda sheet the Guyana Chronicle ran this story, announcing in some detail what your Norwegian government money is going to be spent on, not only this year, but also next – a large portion of it going to the Amaila Falls dam, for which there is STILL no environmental and social impact study, and no recognition of Amerindian tenure rights”.

    Amaila Falls dam, for which there is still no environmental and social impact study,and no recognition of Amerindian tenure rights??
    I must admit you have not done your research well.. stating such a fact means you are knowledgeable but you are not. to facilitate your error I shall just state that studies, not one study but studies were done by local and international experts on Amaila Falls Dam and within those studies Amerindian rights were foremost. please research well so your points can create a forum for constructive dialogue.

  26. An Author
    my apologies Per Fredrik Pharo
    my last posting was meant to engage ‘An author’ please take note

  27. @Ashton Simon

    Where are they then? Where is the evidence that Amerindian rights along either the access road route or in the dam and reservoir area have even been identified and mapped, let alone officially recognised?

    Why is Mr Jagdeo reported as saying only two weeks ago that
    “the work to ensure that Amaila is built in a way that adheres to internationally recognized financial, social and environment standards is now well underway, *in parallel* with detailed financial and engineering work that will lead to the project’s construction” (my emphasis) – making it clear that the environmental and social assessment work was still taking place, even though the project had already been given the go-ahead (and is now starting on the ground)?

    Why did Walter Willis, Technical Advisor to the Minister for Public Works, say on September 25th that “We now are waiting on the comments on the ESIA from the donor agencies” – even though, under the terms of the Guyana-Norway MoU, what is required is not ‘comments’, but compliance with that entity’s formal safeguard procedures? Where is the evidence that there has been compliance with the relevant safeguards?

  28. @ Per Frederick Pharo

    *Why* is an exception being made for disbursement of Norwegian funds this year? Why the great rush to do so before there has been a proper independent review as to Guyana’s fitness to receieve the funds?

    *Why* has Rainforest Alliance been selected to conduct the review?

    *Why* has the government of Guyana announced very specifically which projects will receive Norwegian funding through the GRIF, even though there can be no way of knowing in advance whether these projects will “meet the safeguards and operational policies of the partner entities”?

  29. @ashton simon – Could you please post a link to the various studies that you are referring to about the Amaila Falls. The project has been in the pipeline for many years, as I’m sure you are aware.

    On 7 July 2010, the Inter-American Development Bank approved a technical cooperation of US$1.21 million. An abstract of the technical cooperation is available here. It includes the following statement:

    The studies partially financed by this Technical Cooperation include: i) the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, ii) the Hydrology Review and iii) the Off-Taker and Market Assessment. In addition, the Infrafund will finance the establishment of an Independent Panel of Experts that will advise the Company, the IDB and the Government of Guyana during the Project preparation stage of the environmental and social impacts of the Project.

    Have the reports partly funded by the IDB (including the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment) been completed and released to the public? If so, could you please provide a link to the relevant website(s) where the documents can be downloaded.

  30. REDD Monitor has absolutely no basis for the unnecesssary criticisms of the Guyana REDD+ programme. It can jump up and down all it wants but at the end not get anywhere as development will still continue in Guyana.

  31. @ashton simon – While we’re waiting for the link to the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment on the Amaila Falls dam, I wonder if you could tell us a little more about the organisations that you mention: the National Amerindian Development Foundation (NADF) and the Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana (TAAMOG). I’m intrigued by the fact that these two groups that (presumably) work to support indigenous peoples’ rights appear to be happy that the World Bank’s safeguard on Indigenous Peoples will not be applied under the GRIF.

    I’m afraid I couldn’t find a website for either organisation. How many people are members of NADF and TAAMOG?

    You state that NADF and TAAMOG “view with concern the contents in this article” – did either of the two organisations hold a meeting to discuss the contents of the article? Or is this simply your view?

  32. @Richard Donovan

    You state that “As of July 2009 Dr. Gary Clarke was no longer a director of the Sherwood Forest operation” – but is his wife, Trudie Clarke, the Company Secretary of Sherwood Forrest Inc?

    The Company Secretary of Sherwood Forrest Inc. was named as Trudie Clarke, wife of Gary Clarke, of 22 Belvoir Court, Bel Air, Georgetown, when the company was incorporated on 22 November 2004 at the Deeds Registry in Guyana.

    I note that these questions have been posed on the Guyanese newspaper Starbroek News’ website, but have not yet been responded to.

    Perhaps you would care to answer them here?

  33. From Honourable Minister of Agriculture with responsibility for Forestry, Mr. Robert M. Persaud:

    On 13th October, Mr Chris Lang said: “Roger Waters clearly wasn’t thinking of the president of a small Latin American state ….. but [the words of his song] seem appropriate to President Bharrat Jagdeo’s political philosophy:….’Don’t give me all that goody-good bullshit’”.

    He followed this up with a statement that said: “…it can’t get much worse. Breaching the MOU [between Guyana and Norway on REDD+], throwing safeguards out the window, funding projects that increase forest destruction, and allowing the Director of a logging company to verify that everything is above board [is] the wrong place to start”.

    Fantastic headline-grabbing stuff, but as almost always with Mr. Lang, his statements are totally untrue.

    The caricature of capricious third world governments colluding with illegal loggers provides great cover for Mr. Lang and his fellow travelers to peddle right-wing prejudices.

    His oft-repeated view, that no portion of payment for ecosystem services should flow to governments to invest in their citizens’ services, aligns him with economic neo-conservatives around the world. The United States Tea Party would certainly welcome him as a member.

    But he is entitled to his economic view-points.

    What is unacceptable is his other dominant prejudice – that most people who enter public service in Africa, Asia and South America must be corrupt, stupid, inarticulate or some combination of all three. These regularly repeated viewpoints place Mr. Lang at a particularly rancid place on the spectrum of extremism.

    I have no illusions that Mr. Lang will shed himself of these prejudices. The internet is riddled with others of his ilk, and they tend not to be moved by facts or reasoned argument.

    However, the access to information provided by the internet means that good people may read his reports. His writings – with “anonymous” briefings that bolster his prejudices – may make good people pessimistic that addressing deforestation at the same time as guaranteeing the rights of all the citizens of forest countries is possible.

    This is not fair.

    The many, many decent activists on REDD+ around the world need to be optimistic if we are to play our part in stopping the loss of 150,000 lives from climate change every year. They need to have practical examples of peoples trying with deep sincerity to solve the many complex issues that REDD+ entails. And they deserve to know where they should go for fact-based information.

    So, some facts:

    – Mr Lang’s blog has repeatedly stated variations on the theme that Guyana will be paid by Norway even if Guyana increases its deforestation rate. Totally untrue.

    – Mr. Lang repeatedly says that the Government of Guyana has thrown out safeguards. Totally untrue.

    – Mr. Lang says that Norway and the World Bank are “caving into pressure from Jagdeo” concerning safeguards. Totally untrue.

    – Mr. Lang says that GRIF money is being used to build the access road to the Amaila Falls Hydro-electricity access road. Totally untrue.

    – Mr Lang’s blog states that Rainforest Alliance was awarded a contract for independent auditing “by means which are unclear”. Totally untrue

  34. The above will form the basis for the use of GRIF funds in the coming years. All were identified during the consultation process, and the ongoing consultation will now shift to focus on the implementation of these priorities. As implementation proceeds, the Government will work with the partner entities to ensure the necessary safeguards standards.

    Everything I have summarized above is available through public sources of information, accessible to Mr. Lang and his fellow travelers. I doubt that they will change their prejudices, and they will immediately seek to read conspiracy into what I have written. I do not intend to get into a tit-for-tat, as other’s experience with Mr. Lang demonstrates that this would be pointless.

    But I have set out a comprehensive response in the hope that genuine REDD+ activists will recognize what we are trying to do in Guyana – to find a way that balances the rights of all, plots a path to a new green economy for Guyana, and in so-doing enables us to play our part in avoiding global climate catastrophe.

    We recognize that we are the first to move on this, and that we will not get everything right. But I hope that those who read this will recognize that sustainable solutions for REDD+ can only come about if they are designed by peoples in the developing world.

    However, as was shown in countless advocacy campaigns over decades, international activists also have an important part to play in this progressive agenda. I just ask that the many genuine international activists recognize the need for some humility and an acknowledgment that they do not have all the answers.

    They need to work alongside the peoples of the developing world in a spirit of honest and open collaboration. They should leave the easy sound-bites and stereotypical attacks on developing countries – about corruption, stupidity, laziness, or worse – to those whose minds are closed by their own prejudices.

    Instead, if we see each other as equal partners, and shed the nonsense that peoples in developing countries are somehow inferior, there is much we can achieve together.

  35. 2. The accusation that Guyana has “thrown out safeguards”.

    The Government of Guyana has been one of the most forward-leaning on the topic of safeguards within the UNFCCC and elsewhere. President Jagdeo in particular has repeatedly spoken publicly – at Poznan , Copenhagen , and elsewhere – about the need for safeguards.

    Mr. Lang is aware of the many public statements that the Government has made on safeguards. To quote just one example, in the Minister of Finance’s July address to the National Assembly on the GRIF, he said: “We needed to ensure Guyanese sovereignty over LCDS decisions… At the same time, we wanted to create a global model for ensuring that climate finance adheres to internationally accepted financial, social and environmental safeguards…

    The Government believes that the UNFCCC should establish the standards for safeguards, but this issue remains un-solved in UNFCCC negotiations. To develop a globally replicable model and therefore help to advance the negotiations, the Governments of Guyana and Norway will invite a series of internationally reputable institutions to act as GRIF partner entities– starting with the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, Conservation International, the World Wildlife Fund, and all members of the United Nations family. Others will be determined over time. Pending the creation of a UNFCCC set of safeguards for climate finance, the internationally accepted safeguards of any one of these organizations will be deemed acceptable.”

    3. The accusation that the World Bank is “washing its hands”

    Again, this is pure fiction. As was made clear for many months, including in the July statement by the Minister of Finance quoted above, the Governments of Guyana and Norway have sought to find a practical way of promoting safeguards in the absence of UNFCCC guidance. The GRIF announcement of last week (see, for example, stated that the first three partner entities (whose safeguards will be recognized) are the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the members of the UN family.

    I am aware that there are some commentators who say that the safeguards of one or other of these organizations are better than others. That is a legitimate point of view.

    However, the Governments of Guyana and Norway are satisfied that the quality of all of these organizations is of a sufficient level to feel comfortable that the appropriate standards will be met, pending guidance from the UNFCCC.

  36. 4. The accusation that GRIF money is being used to build the Amaila Falls access road

    Mr. Lang needs to distinguish between the work to build the access road to the Amaila Falls hydro-electricity project site, and the construction of the plant itself. As has been said repeatedly, the former is not being funded from GRIF resources, while the latter is. However, despite not being funded from the GRIF, the Government is voluntarily working with the IDB to ensure that the access road is constructed to the necessary social and environmental standards.

    When it comes to the major project, work continues with the IDB to look at the hydro-electricity plant and related infrastructure, including a full review of the social and environmental impact assessments. As of today, there are still several months of work left. Once this work is completed satisfactorily, the Amaila Falls hydro-electricity plant will be the first investment to proceed with GRIF funds. Again, this has been stated publicly on many occasions, including two weeks ago, when the statement selectively quoted by Mr. Lang’s blog actually said: “Concurrently with access road construction, the IDB is completing their review of the revised Environmental & Social Impact Assessment Report (ESIA) which includes the Amaila hydropower facilities, the transmission line as well as the access road works. The ESIA was completed by Exponent & JGP, a consortium of American and Brazilian environmental and social experts on hydroelectric project development hired by Amaila Falls Hydro Inc. (AFHI)…”

    5. Accusations of impropriety at Rainforest Alliance

    Mr. Lang supports accusations about the Rainforest Alliance being awarded a contract to independently audit Guyana’s progress against a set of REDD+ indicators, based on an anonymous entry stating : “By means which are not clear, this independent auditor task has been handed to the New York-based ‘not for profit’, the Rainforest Alliance.”

    I have noted that Rainforest Alliance has already responded, and I will not seek to speak for them. However, I would point out that Rainforest Alliance was selected by the Government of Norway through an open, international tender process carried out in accordance with Norwegian government regulations. The tender notice was carried on both Norwegian and Guyanese websites. For example, see:

  37. 5. In the coming two years, the following investments will be funded from the GRIF, in a way that balances national sovereignty with adherence to international safeguards as outlined above. Again, quoting from the July statement by the Minister of Finance to the National Assembly:

    “Now that the GRIF is being established, investments can be made in the priority LCDS investments for the period 2010 to 2015, as set out in Chapter 9 of the LCDS. I will quickly mention six key highlights for 2010 and 2011 here.

    “Firstly, in 2010 and 2011, between US$40 million and US$60 million will be invested as equity in the Amaila Falls Hydropower project…The project will involve utilizing less than 0.001% of the State Forest area. The Government is firmly committed to ensuring that the project complies with both national and international social and environmental safeguards.

    The second LCDS priority for 2010 and 2011 will be to accelerate the creation of new opportunities for Amerindians. It is aimed to complete the process of titling for all Amerindian villages that request this to be done by 2015. Over the same time, all titled villages will have the option to “opt in” to the forest payments mechanism at any time, in accordance with the principle of free, prior and informed consent. And, funds will be allocated to the Amerindian Development Fund to provide grants for low carbon energy and economic or social investments in Amerindian villages.

    [Note: since the Minister’s statement, it has been decided through consultation that the first allocation to the Amerindian Development Fund will be devoted to distributing solar panels to all forest communities that request this to be done.]

    The third LCDS priority will be to further the work to enable access to high quality ICT infrastructure in all parts of Guyana.

    The fourth priority will be to support the creation of new low carbon opportunities for small and micro enterprise sectors and vulnerable groups, building on the Small Business Development Fund established under the Small Business Act of 2004.

    The fifth priority will be to enable a suite of investments in the Education sector, including the creation of an International Centre for Bio-diversity Research and Low Carbon Development; enhancing the school curriculum to include low carbon development; and measures to improve ICT training for school children and prospective employees.

    The sixth and final priority in 2010 and 2011 will be supporting the Office of Climate Change, the Low Carbon Project Management Office, the Environmental Protection Agency and the REDD Secretariat at the Guyana Forestry Commission. These agencies are all essential to the effective implementation of the LCDS”.

  38. Robert, save your breath. Chris is not interested in facts. Misinformation, innuendo, omissions, outright lies… that is the REDD Monitor.

  39. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Chris obviously has ulterior motives and her understanding of tropical forest issues, including REDD is severely limited. Let’s chalk this up to pure ignorance and let it alone.

  40. @ Chris Lang
    Candidly, to continue communicating on REDD Monitor’s site is not a burning interest either for NADF or TAAMOG but because of your interest in NADF and TAAMOG I shall happily facilitate. NADF and TAAMOG are two (2) of four (4) national indigenous organizations in Guyana. Being a CEO for NADF does not empower me to exercise unilateral powers for NADF and TAAMOG, so yes, NADF and TAAMOG did meet to discuss the article ‘REDD rubber hits the road in Guyana: skid-marks a-plenty’ and every posting there-after met the same requirement. NADF and TAAMOG are recognized by our Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, Government, international institutions and organizations, local institutions and organizations and Amerindian communities across Guyana.
    I notice many links have been shared with REDD monitor on interesting information addressing some of the issues mentioned/requested earlier, particularly the assumption that NADF and TAAMOG were happy that the world bank’s safeguard on Indigenous Peoples will not be applied under GRIF. Please see – this states clearly that safeguards of the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and members of the UN family (three partner entities) will be recognized. REDD Monitor assuming that the World Bank scuttled their safeguards on Indigenous Peoples in the GRIF mechanism is tantamount to derailing a process to cause confusion and tension. Guyana will not explode Chris Lang, sorry. REDD Monitor’s site is reeked with lies, mis-information and no indication that true facts is what is being sought. My feathers are not ruffled, it takes more than anonymous commentary to do that, I do not deal with the dead or unknown so I am pretty much intact.
    I notice REDD Monitor gets very personal with Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, he is Guyana’s elected president. Does Chris Lang or any of his confederates enjoy such an honored status?
    The wheels for LCDS, REDD+ and GRIF have started turning and anonymous commentary on REDD Monitor will not scuttle the process, so ‘Hit the road’

  41. @ashton simon – Thanks for the information you provided about NADF and TAAMOG. I assume, since you provide no link, that neither organisation has a website. You did not answer two of my questions:

    1. Please provide a link to the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment on the Amaila Falls dam (the one part-funded by the IDB).

    2. How many people are members of NADF and TAAMOG?

    I look forward to your response.

  42. @ chris
    don`t hold your breath on that info from ahston simon
    National Amerindian Development Foundation (NADF) and the Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana (TAAMOG) are two front organisations for the People`s Progressive Party – ( Jagdeo`s party)
    until recently the president of TAAMOG was an East Indian man! (haven`t seen anyting from him in the press for some months)this is an organisation supposedly created by Amerindians to represent Amerindians and the big man on top just happens to be an East Indian apologist for the East Indian dominated govt.
    another govt creation is the National Toshao Council headed by another apologist for the govt – Yvonne Pearson. all Amerindian leaders are forced to join this organisation which must report to the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs
    yesterday these mis.leaders were forced to sign a document stating that the NTC is the only body authorised to speak for Amerindians in Guyana! you can read it here at the govt owned paper

    ^President Bharrat Jagdeo was presented with a copy of the Resolution after the Amerindian leaders had signed on.
    The resolution affirms that the Amerindian communities are in full support of REDD+; that the NTC is the sole authority to represent Amerindian interests to the Government of Guyana; and the international community *must* consult it and the Government of Guyana on issues concerning Amerindian villages.

    and there are many more gems there for those interested in good laughs for the weekend

  43. on a separate note
    robert persaud is married to bharrat jagdeo`s niece (i think she is. some say sister)
    he is the forestry csar and also got up in parliament in support of torture by govt agents
    the head of the national toshao council yvonne pearson is bribed by jagdeo with trips to places like copenhagen and london. she speaks for all Amerindians of Guyana according to jagdeo…if you can please listen to one of her presentations and i can guarantee you, you will shake your head in shock and horror
    the CEO of the Office of Climate Change is shyam nokta. this office is in the same building as jagdeo office. shyam is the son of a former minister of govt harripersaud nokta better known as 10% nokta. shyam`s father is an environmental consultant as was dressed in green proudly standing the day Norway’s Environment Minister Erik Solheim and jagdeo signed the deal

    Environmental Management Consultants is a company formed by shyam in 1998; he is also In-Country Officer, Fauna & Flora International (2002-present) [strangely not mentioned on Fauna & Flora website anywhere]; Environmental Adviser to jagdeo, Chairman of the National Climate Committee.

    EMC also consulted & built the Low Carbon Development Strategy website for a hefty sum
    want more
    Shyam outfit is a registered consultant of Guyana’s EPA and he proudly states that one of his clients is you guessed it the government of Guyana. on his facebook page shyam lists his employer as EMC
    yet this man is pocketing millions of Guyana`s dollars saving our environment from disaster…for us and at our expense….a teacher in Guyana makes about $150/mo
    the cost of the president & shyam`s many overseas trips remain state secrets

    everything above stated above are facts and i can list many people who will verify the same…many will not do so publicly for fear of victimisation…and they say we live in a democratic country

  44. looks like it´s past skidmarks and the tires may have fallen off completely
    bharrat jagdeo publicly attacking Jens Stoltenberg in Cancun as they sat next to each other on a public forum is classic