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Carbon credit financing transforming development in Amerindian villages

THE Government of Guyana has ensured that Amerindian communities across the country continue to benefit directly from the Low-Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) funds.
As many as 242 Amerindian communities have benefitted from the carbon credit initiative, with both President Dr. Irfaan Ali and National Toshaos Council (NTC) Chairman Derrick John expressing satisfaction with the way Amerindian villages have gone about implementing their projects.

President Ali said he is pleased with how the Amerindian communities have been using this money, with the support and facilitation of the Government, and that it is the villagers themselves who determine what programmes are needed, as outlined in their Village Sustainability Plans.

According to President Ali, “This is Government’s way of ensuring that carbon credit financing from the national programme flows directly to support village development.”
He noted that Amerindian villages design their programme of activities, and what they want to invest that money in. “These decisions are made not only by the Toshaos (Village Leaders) but by villagers themselves. They have their programme of activities, and I’m very confident, especially with the type of support we’re giving the communities in training and capacity building, that they’ll be able to do a great job of implementing it.”

In an interview with the Guyana Chronicle, NTC Chairman, Toshao Derrick John of Moraikobai also lauded the design and operationalising of the programme, and the way the monies have been used by individual communities to improve lives at the village level.

In fact, Chairman John and several Toshaos’ shared the successes so far on developing Village Plans, and in commencing implementation of village projects.
Toshaos noted that one of the main successes of the programme so far has been the efficient move from the point of issuing of carbon credits in November 2022, to the first sale contract being initiated shortly after in December 2022, soon followed by the setting up of bank accounts and announcement of payments in February 2023, and the process for the development of Village Plans executed over the period March to July 2023. With implementation of projects at the village level already commencing, from crediting to project implementation has spanned only 10 months.

He said, “As the National Toshao Council Chairperson, I’m very satisfied with projects that villages have implemented and invested their carbon credits in. We have a lot of early success stories. As the National Toshaos Council Conference commenced, we had a lot of success stories where villages will be able to report on the progress they’ve made so far since they’ve received funds from the carbon credits. A lot of villages have invested in various activities. Some in eco-tourism. Some in transportation services, livelihoods, and various other things that we have evidence of, and later on this afternoon some of the Toshaos will do PowerPoint presentations on some of the projects that they have completed so far.” Also speaking with the media at the recently concluded National Toshoas Conference at the Arthur Chung Centre, the leaders expressed their gratitude to President Mohamed Irfaan Ali, Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, and the PPP/C government for being committed to funding the socio-economic development of the Amerindian Villages.

One of the Toshaos from the village of Akawini in Region Two, Rudolph Wilson, explained that for the past three years, his people and the indigenous communities have seen massive developments, unlike before. According to the Toshoa, the discussion on significant projects that have been established with funds to assist in community development has been transformational.

Rudolph Wilson said, “For our village, we receive $35 million. And from the low carbon money…we have purchased small engines (15 horsepower) to transport children to different locations.”

He continued by saying that the funds were used to construct a dining hall and a well-equipped kitchen for the benefit of the neighborhood. He said that they even built tents for numerous sporting venues. Wilson anticipated that money would also be utilized to renovate the village office and put in place suitable storage for its critical papers. He outlined that the standout feature to him of this programme, is the village getting to determine what gets done and leads in the implementation. “This is true ownership of village projects”, he pointed out,
Meanwhile, Toshao of Yurong Paru, Region Nine, Reginald Francis, also expressed his satisfaction with the national carbon credits programme and shared his view that the Government has consistently supported the development of Amerindian villages.

According to him, “LCDS fund was happening in my village, which was $18 million; out of that money, I withdrew $12 million to do the three different projects.”
Among these are the raising of livestock, the processing of lumber, and the purchase of a vehicle for village use, he explained.
Additionally, Tiger Pond’s Toshao, James Davis, said that he is happy to relate that his neighbourhood is going through a significant transformation and will have programmes to support low carbon development in a major way.

“For our LCDS project, the village bought a bus, which is a first for us. With this transportation, we are now able to transport our schoolchildren safely to school and also transport the people of our community,” Davis said.

He also added that the money was used for the installation of Wi-Fi in his village so that the people, especially the children, could benefit from it.
Some of the projects range from providing sources of clean water to electricity to the construction of cassava plants, among others.
With population size as the determining factor in how the proceeds from the sale of carbon credits were distributed, it is noteworthy that the first payment of $4.7 billion, or US$22 million, to around 242 indigenous villages occurred in February this year and already villages are implementing projects to boost low carbon development investments to meet the economic and social needs of villages.

Guyana signed a contract with Hess Corporation in December 2022, which will see the nation earn US$750 million within a ten-year period. While 85 percent is being invested in multi-community and national priorities where Amerindian villages would also benefit, 15 percent ($4.7 billion) is allocated directly towards Amerindian development.
To date, 240 number of villages have submitted Village Sustainability Plans (VSP) and have already begun implementing their projects. Some villages will use the carbon credits financing to develop their tourism and agriculture sectors, while others are using the resources to fund projects that empower women.

The 33.7 million credits sold to Hess Corporation is just 30 percent of Guyana’s carbon credits issuance, made possible as a result of carbon stored in Guyana’s vast forest cover. The country’s more than 18 million hectares of forest are estimated to store approximately 20 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

In the meantime, the remaining 70 per cent of Guyana’s carbon credits are currently attracting interest from several markets, and Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo said last month that the government is now exploring these opportunities. A carbon credit is a tradable permit or certificate that allows the holder of the credit the right to emit a stated tonnage of carbon dioxide or an equivalent of another greenhouse gas. Countries and companies that exceed their permitted limits can purchase carbon credits from nations that have low emissions, such as Guyana. The deal with Hess came on the heels of Guyana being the first country to receive a certification of more than 33 million carbon credits by the Architecture for REDD+ Transactions (ART) on December 1, 2022.
This is part of a weekly series on LCDS.) The author can be contacted at [email protected]