in Guyana

Protest at appointment of ex-President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana as IUCN high level envoy for sustainable development in forest countries

Protest at appointment of ex-President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana as IUCN high level envoy for sustainable development in forest countries

Last week, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced the appointment of former President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo, as IUCN High Level Envoy for Sustainable Development in Forest Countries and Patron of Nature.

Yes, you read that correctly. The world’s largest and oldest global environmental organisation has decided to hire the man whose “avoided threatened deforestation” and “payments for increased deforestation” versions of REDD have completely failed to address the structural problems underlying the forest sector in Guyana. It’s difficult to know what IUCN was thinking when it decided to appoint Jagdeo.

Yesterday, John Palmer, Senior Associate, Forest Management Trust sent the following letter to Stewart Maginnis, head of the IUCN Forest Conservation Programme, to protest at the appointment. Copies were also sent to Julia Marton-Lefevre, the Director General of IUCN, and the acting director of IUCN South America regional office (based in Quito).

From: John Palmer
Sent: 21 March 2012 09:57
To: Stewart Maginnis
Subject: protest at appointment of ex-President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana as IUCN high level envoy for sustainable development in forest countries.

Dear Stewart,

I wish to place on record my protest at IUCN’s appointment of ex-President Bharrat Jagdeo of Guyana as IUCN high level envoy for sustainable development in forest countries. During his 12 years as President of Guyana, the national forest policy 1997 and national forest plan 2001 have been comprehensively ignored, exports to Asia of unprocessed logs from natural tropical rainforest in Guyana have increased greatly (against all national policies), illegal logging has increased and so has gold mining in forested areas, and illegal trade in those logs has been facilitated by the prevalence of corruption originating at the apex of government. A small number of Jagdeo’s crony capitalists and an increasing number of Chinese national log traders have become wealthy while prime commercial timbers are being overcut by 30 times the natural rate of regeneration. All this information is in the local Press in Guyana and could easily have been checked by IUCN.

Perhaps IUCN was swayed by the presence of Jagdeo at international meetings, calling for fast disbursement of donor funds for avoided deforestation? But in Guyana there is no credible threat of increased deforestation because the hinterland soils are among the most infertile in the world, not having been subject to rejuvenation by volcanism or marine transgression; the Guiana Shield landscape has been stable for millions of years and leaching has left impoverished soils. A proposal by McKinsey & Company in 2008 to Jagdeo based on the notorious McKinsey carbon cost abatement calculations utterly ignores the infertility of the soils and the associated absence of any agronomic trials to support the 90 per cent forest clearance and crop replacement suggested by McKinsey as the default proposition. Based on this 2008 study, Jagdeo called for international donors to provide him with around USD 580 million per year for avoided deforestation. Only Norway responded, apparently in furtherance of its commitment towards carbon neutrality by 2030 while continuing to pump oil and gas from its massive reserves. Although Norway has transferred USD 70 million to a World Bank trust fund, no money has yet been disbursed from that fund, at least in part because the Office of the President in Guyana has been incapable of putting together project proposals which are rational in terms of national development or which comply with WB environmental and social safeguards. Also, Jagdeo assured local gold miners and loggers several times that it would be ‘business as usual’ even while he was making international statements about forest conservation, PES and REDD.

Under ex-President Jagdeo, Guyana has made no explicit commitment to reduce emissions of carbon from deforestation or forest degradation, in spite of being one of the earliest countries to submit an R-PIN (mostly written by Conservation International HQ), R-PLAN and R-PP (revised up to mid-2010). No FCPF money has been released to Guyana, which wanted the InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB) to handle the transactions. Both IDB and World Bank have been ‘cussed down’, as they say in Guyana, because Jagdeo left his presidential office in December 2012 without receiving the FCPF and Norwegian money.

There is a mass of allegations in the local Press about the corrupt diversion of national budget and donor moneys on instruction from the apex of government. So far, the new President, who appears to be still under Jagdeo’s direction, has cancelled only the most challenged of the disreputable contracts arranged by Jagdeo. My guess is that this will be the ‘sacrificial lamb’ to divert attention from much larger scams. The executive President of Guyana constitutionally appoints the senior judiciary, so a flood of prosecutions for corruption is most unlikely, and Jagdeo has constitutional immunity from criminal prosecution even after leaving office.

The IUCN appointment is very handy to Jagdeo, allowing him to travel at IUCN expense, but you might check his travel arrangements/routes very carefully. I should also say that although only 47 years old Jagdeo draws a post-presidential pension which is essentially unlimited in amount and is much more generous than that of the US President.

And please ask IUCN to be more careful in future.

With best wishes
John Palmer
Senior Associate, Forest Management Trust, Gainesville, Florida, USA

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  1. Its funny how these people who claim to be unbiased write letters sullying the good name of President Jagdeo.

    John Palmer is the Fiancee of Janette Bulkan of the Bulkans of Guyana. Ronald Bulkan her brother a PNC Opposition Parliament approached the Government of Guyana to bail out his failed company Precision Woodworking to the sum of US$3M. The Bulkans wanted the Government to use tax payers money to bail out their failed company. The government refused, since then the Bulkans and John Palmer have been trying to discredit President Jagdeo and The Government of Guyana.

  2. The thing that most discredits Bharrat Jagdeo (who is EX-President, constitutionally, if not in his own mind) is not John Palmer, but his government’s dismal record on dealing with the continued rampant pillaging of his country’s forests by Asian logging companies, to almost no benefit of Guyana’s population.

    The fact that Jagdeo and his officials were not able to cobble together one single credible proposal for how to spend Norway’s REDD largesse, $70m of which is still mouldering away in a World Bank account, speaks volumes about his incompetence.

    I don’t know whether IUCN intend to use Jagdeo for fundraising, but I sure hope they don’t use him for programme design work.

  3. REDD, IUCN and pretty much all so called environmental organisations and mechanisms are only interested in managed exploitation. Those who care about the Earth and all other life for its own sake would do well to rfealise this and find other ways to address the ever more rapidly unfolding ecological catastrophe that humans are visiting on the Earth.

  4. Whereas the ICUN body should have investigated the Jagdeo Presidency to make a determination for his suitability as ICUN high level envoy for Sustainable Development in Forest Countries and Patron of Nature. Bharrat Jagdeo do not have the moral authority for forest preservation representative because Guyana did not develop a comprehensive manageable public policy on sustainable development and further illegal logging became unmanageable under his presidency.

    Moreover, as President Jagdeo facilitated the growth of the illicit narco trade with his government’s support to former drug king pin Roger Khan who was involved with the executions and murder of over four hundred Guyanese.

    The ICUN may wish to protect it’s public image by with drawing it’s support to the Jadgeo candidacy.

  5. we at propaganda press have consistently chronicled the crimes and mis-deeds of bharrat jagdeo & co. we have no respect for ICUN which has a muddy track record and the others who are using jagdeo and his cronies to line their pockets [WWF, Conservation International and the rest of the so-called environmental gang]
    jagdeo is on record many times stating drilling for oil is compatible with forest conservation. and he has no objections to the chinese, malays, russians, brazillians and an assortment of his narco criminal friends controlling large chunks of the forest
    by the way, anyone care to research another jagdeo disaster?
    check out canopy capital and iwokrama another deal that went up in smoke
    and the biggest scam of all is unfolding now in guyana, the amaila falls hydro electric dam project

  6. All the more why we have to look at ourselves and support local conservation (BACK YARD) efforts. Big conservation organisations are too big to see the little things. People, the little things make up the big things.

  7. Former President Bharat deserves ICUN assignment ,and he would certainly take the movement forward ..congratulations ….Bharat means commitment !!! Gods speed to him .sairam rommel

  8. Never have so many been so consumed by the obsession of a single man yet Jagdeo continues to go about his work quietly. Kudos to him.

  9. Never seen so many ungrateful people in my life, I would say they are all jealous and spiteful because Guyana is prosperous under the PPP regime.

  10. sairam, pat and zailmoon am willing to wager at least three of you do not live in the guyana paradise of bharrat jagdeo
    another bharrat jagdeo gift to the people is amaila falls. the price tag has gone from 350 million to 850 million and they’ve not even turned sod yet on this and guess what they’re telling us again? THE PRICE IS EXPECTED TO RISE EVEN MORE
    the true price of the road to the location is still state secret. y’all think the fired contractor’s performance bond will ever be paid over to the treasury? it’s only 1.5 million

  11. jealousy indeed!!!! congrats to Mr. Jagdeo and pity to the many mouths that will be shut when PPP/C regains parliament with more than just a ¨one seat coalition advantage¨

  12. so it’s all about shutting mouths now sanjiv?
    should we recap all the jagdeo shady deals gone belly up and white elephant?
    just a few for refresher
    carbon trading with canopy capital – deal now cancelled
    anadarko of gulf of mexico deep water horizon fame just signed another oily deal last week
    cgx drilling for oil – not sure what’s going on there
    skeldon sugar estate – 200 million – opened 2009 and does not work as of 24hrs ago
    parika & supernaam stellings – billions – both fell into the river
    road to amaila falls – 20? 30? 60? million? still no road
    enmore packaging facility – 14 million – what’s being packaged?
    that’s a small primer

  13. In today’s world people only find faults.Bharrat Jagdeo was a good president.He rebuilt Guyana economy,Guyanese are enjoying a better life with the PPP/C.than under the PNC.hat’s off to him and God bless him.
    Long live ex-President Bharrat Jagdeo.Continue to make a difference in this world for the good….

  14. I was amazed to read that i had protested the appointment of Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo,as IUCN high level envoy for sustainable development in forest countries. I think he is the best. Congratulation!!!

  15. @zsamad – Where did you read that you had protested the appointment of Jagdeo as IUCN High Level Envoy for Sustainable Development in Forest Countries and Patron of Nature?