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.
Consulting firm McKinsey has played a key role in pushing a version of REDD that underestimates the role of industrial logging and agriculture on forest destruction, while painting local communities as forest destroyers. McKinsey’s advice, if taken seriously, would have had serious implications for local livelihoods and would do little to reduce deforestation.
McKinsey & Co. is one of main promoters of the myth that REDD will be cheap. In 2009, Carter Bales, an emeritus director at McKinsey said that, “You can do this forestry work without technology risk, without hard infrastructure costs, there are some soft infrastructure costs in terms of readiness for these countries, and at very low cost relative to other abatement options.”
Yesterday, Greenpeace released a report titled, “Bad Influence: How McKinsey-inspired plans lead to rainforest destruction.” The report highlights how advice from McKinsey & Co., one of the world’s top consulting firms, will result in an increase in the destructive logging it is, in theory at least, supposed to prevent.
McKinsey & Company has benefited from a series of consultancies, advising governments about REDD. But a new report from Rainforest Foundation UK uses examples from McKinsey’s REDD advice in Indonesia, Guyana and the Democratic Republic of Congo to demonstrate that the advice McKinsey gives is based on flawed analysis and misleading for decision-makers.
A June 2009 confidential memorandum from the consulting firm McKinsey to the PNG government has been posted on the PNGExposed Blog. In the memo, McKinsey was asking the PNG government for US$2.2 million for four months work to produce a draft “National REDD and Climate Change Plan” before the Copenhagen meeting.
President Bharrat Jagdeo’s visit to Europe last week was reported enthusiastically in Guyana’s newspapers. Headlines like “The Norway climate deal a significant step forward” and comments such as “Guyana is getting significant backing, including financial support, from Norway, for its model to push saving rainforests as a central platform in the global plan to avert climate change disaster,” both from the Guyana Chronicle, are typical.
It seems to have dawned on Guyana’s president, Bharrat Jagdeo, that you can’t reduce deforestation if you don’t have any deforestation in the first place. Guyana has large areas of forest and low levels of deforestation. So, in 2008, Jagdeo commissioned the consulting firm McKinsey to find a way out of the problem.