Dr Irfaan Ali said that Guyana’s forests are not just standing trees, but important global assets that provide “global services”.
To this extent, he said that Guyana is “very pleased” to sign a four-year EUR5m grant (approximately GY$1.1b) with the European Union (EU) for the sustainability of the country’s forests and forest-dependent communities.
At Wednesday’s official announcement and press briefing at State House, the President said that “it is only fair that the forests earn for the country and the people who ensure that it stays intact in support of those global services”.
He explained that Guyana is also working to provide global leadership on sustainable forest management and is looking to provide a practical example to the world on how the environment, forests, freshwater, and biodiversity must be safeguarded to sustain life.
“We also look to develop new ways of incentivising the global fight to safeguard forests. The main actions identified to be advanced by this cooperation will look to strengthen sustainable livelihoods in forest communities and enhance knowledge and capacity for sustainable use and supply of nature-based goods and services.”
Guyana’s forests, as they stand are estimated to store more than 19.5 gigatons of carbon dioxide with the capacity to remove 154 million tonnes more every year from the atmosphere.
This, the President said, shows that Guyana’s forests provide vital ecosystem and environmental services to the world.
During the press briefing, the Deputy Secretary-General of the European Union External Action Service, Helena K?nig, praised Guyana for its “historically low deforestation rates”.
She explained that Guyana is the only country in the world in which the EU has signed both the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Agreement–FLEGT, and the Forest Partnership Memorandum of Understanding.
The President also outlined that over the years, Guyana has found a “very delicate” balance in the development and advancement of forest-dependent communities in the context of sustainable forest management.
He noted that sustainable livelihoods sit at the heart of this endeavour.
“When we create the opportunities for people, for economic advancement, and social upliftment, we provide them with resources to make decisions to safeguard the environment and protect forests.”
He said that Guyanese should never “undervalue our contribution and our record in terms of deforestation rates. That is not by accident; that is by deliberate planning, deliberate policy and a strong understanding of the role of forests in today’s environment and in the fight against climate change”.
The President said that the partnership between Guyana, the EU and by extension the France Development Agency (AFD) and the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) Guianas underpins the focus on what works and moves to create practical solutions to development challenges.
It was also pointed out that forest-dependent communities have already outlined their village sustainability plans. These, he said, will be complemented and augmented with the project so that they align closely with the country’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).
Moving forward, he explained that all actions carried out under the project are expected to be done in close coordination with national institutions and local partners, such as the National Toshaos Council to maximise the benefits of significant resources already invested at the community level.
President Ali also praised the partnership between the EU and Guyana and said that they are working together for global sustainability.
This project, which is a flagship project of the EU’s Global Gateway strategy, will also benefit Suriname, which is expected to receive a similar grant.
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