From the New York Times ;
In Guyana, where pristine rain forest still covers 75 percent of the land, and barely 750,000 people live in a country roughly the size of Britain, a young economist-turned-president is pushing a development model based on conservation that has earned his government international recognition in the United Nations talks on a climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol.
Faced with the possibility of climate change, the international community is starting to talk about paying for the carbon storage that living forests provide.
Guyana’s minister of foreign affairs, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, said
“The fastest way of reducing carbon emissions is keeping the forest standing. All of the other measures we could take would take technology, time. But this we can do immediately. We just stop. We just stop cutting.”
That recognition, and advances in satellite imaging and carbon measurements over the past decade, have made a proposal for forest preservation, known as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD, an important part of the climate treaty talks.
Low-carbon development strategy
To show that he is not looking for a handout, President Bharrat Jagdeo has formulated a low-carbon development strategy that outlines how income from REDD would help his country develop sustainably.
The plan calls for investment in clean industries, like organic agriculture, aquaculture, sustainable forestry, business outsourcing and ecotourism. It proposes the development of hydropower to cut fossil fuel use, and because most of the population lives along the coast, below sea level, it would direct some funds toward adaptation, strengthening sea defenses or moving people inland. Those efforts would help to counteract flooding, which has taken a 10 percent bite out of gross domestic product in recent years.
To help convince developed countries, Guyana has undertaken a pilot project, largely funded through a partnership deal signed last month with Norway. The agreement will provide Guyana $30 million in 2010 for forest conservation and up to $250 million by 2015, based upon its success in limiting emissions. Guyana will use the money to begin protecting its rain forests and implementing its low-carbon development strategy.
Elements of the partnership that might offer lessons for others include the setting up of a transparent financial transfer mechanism that allows Guyana to maintain sovereignty over its resources; the creation of a system to measure, monitor and report changes in forest cover; and the organization of consultations with all Guyanese, including indigenous people, to generate nationwide support. Guyana’s pilot project is unique because it is countrywide.