Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, within whose purview responsibility for the Department of Environment and the Office of Climate Change fall, is currently in Paramaribo, Suriname to attend the High Forest Cover, Low Deforestation (HFLD) Conference on Climate Finance Mobilisation, which began yesterday and will conclude on Friday. The Minister will address the conference tomorrow.
In an invited comment, the Minister said Guyana’s participation at the conference is important given the climate financing opportunities and ways in which the country can benefit from international funding for its pristine high forest cover.
“Guyana is one of the countries with the lowest levels of deforestation and therefore, high forest coverage. In the last year or so, we have had one of the lowest levels of deforestation in the world and that is something that we are very proud of. It is important for countries that have this particular feature that there is some way of compensating them for the manner in which they allow the world to breathe. We are the lungs of the earth and the problem that countries like ours face is that access to financing for projects in this sector has become a problem. So this Conference is meant to look at ways in which we can access funds; there are recommendations that have been made by experts and we will discuss these at length,” he said.
Additionally, Minister Harmon said it is his desire to engage some participating countries in bilateral meetings on the side-lines of the Conference to determine how best partnerships or opportunities in this area can be formalised.
“We believe that some of the financing that are available now, for example, under REDD+ [Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation], that we can look at more creative ways of expanding that. What you will find is that the available sources of funding for forest coverage work is shrinking and therefore, we have to be more creative in [looking] at that and so this is one benefit I expect. Another benefit to be had is the experience that we will share with countries. We have presentations from the Global Environment Fund, United Nations, Norway, among others. We will also seek bilateral conversations with these countries and agencies to see how best we can leverage opportunities that exist,” the Minister of State said.
Meanwhile, Head of the Office of Climate Change (OCC), Ms. Janelle Christian, also in an invited comment, said this Conference brings into focus, the important role that forests play for climate change mitigation and adaptation and the ecosystem services which they provide in general.