Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 October 2016, 7:07 by Denis Chabrol
WWF-Guianas and the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB), with funding from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), on Monday , October 17th, 2016, launched their Opt-in Readiness Project in Annai, North Rupununi.
“The project will prepare the nineteen indigenous communities of the North Rupununi to be active participants and beneficiaries of Guyana’s Green Economy,” WWF said in a statement.
Indigenous communities hold title to three million hectares, or 16% of Guyana’s 18.5 million hectares of forest. Under the Guyana Norway Agreement, those communities are to be given the opportunity to opt-in and benefit directly from conserving their forests.
WWF says the project aims to help communities prepare. The organisation explained that two teams of trainers, both headed by indigenous people, will lead the capacity development efforts. The community development team will facilitate a process in each of the communities to create Community Development Plans (CDPs) and provide training in financial management, conflict-resolution, and governance to the village leadership (15-25 people in each of the 19 communities).
In addition, 38 people – 28 men and 10 women-two chosen by each community – will receive 11 weeks of intensive training in Community Monitoring Reporting and Verification (CMRV) over the coming year. They will be provided with the knowledge and technology to gather,analyze and report forest cover and carbon (training provided by the Guyana Forestry Commision), natural resource abundance and use, and community health and wellbeing, including a happiness index.
The information will help the communities better manage their natural resources, care for their residents, and foster their community’s development. It will also prepare them to receive annual payments under a new Guyana Norway Agreement or any future payment scheme for conserving our forests.
As WWF Guianas REDD+ Lead, Chuck Hutchinson, explains “one outstanding deliverable under the Guyana Norway Agreement is the development of opt-in – the mechanism intended to open the door for titled indigenous communities to participate and benefit from REDD+ payments for conserving forests on their titled land. Our aim is to facilitate this effort by developing a model that can prepare communities to effectively opt-in and participate in REDD+”
The Opt-in Readiness Project is one component of WWF’s wider program of practices to support Guyana’s green development.
Ms Aiesha Williams, Country Manager of WWF Guyana, said “ith the true participation of indigenous communities, in partnership with the Guyana Government and other stakeholders, and with technical assistance from WWF and others, the green development path our country is pursuing can indeed be achieved and sustained.”
The launch event took place at the Bina Hill Institute in Annai, North Rupununi and was attended by Vice President and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affaires (MoIPA), Sydney Allicock, MP; Minister within the Ministry of MoIPA, Valerie Garrido-Lowe (MP); Major General (Rtd) Joe Singh, Special Assistant to the President; representatives of the Guyana Forestry Commission and the Office of Climate Change; as well the National Toshaos Council (NTC), the Amerindian Peoples Association, Iwokrama and Conservation International Guyana, NRDDB leadership, and the press.