Amerindian Peoples Association alleges village leaders were not consulted over use of lands and forests for carbon trading, calls on the Government and National Toshaos Conference to address concerns

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A group of Indigenous people from Deep South Rupununi

The Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) said it is very worried that the carbon crediting procedure Government launched infringes on the rights of Indigenous Peoples to their free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC).

Following discussions with indigenous community leaders, the APA identified many issues with Guyana’s proposals and commitments made as part of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2030.

The APA reported that leaders made a number of observations, including the fact that communities had not been consulted over the use of their lands and forests for carbon trading.

Additionally, the leaders were not asked if they would accept a 15% cut of the money from any carbon sales and specifics of who would control and have access to the money is still unknown.

The APA stated that it also communicated its concerns and recommendations to the ART Secretariat, which is the company that issued 33.47 million carbon credits to the Government of Guyana. However, the APA asserted that the responses to its concerns were evasive.

Despite the Government of Guyana’s assertion that there were “seven-months long consultations,” the APA claims that leaders requested that an updated version of the LCDS 2030 document be taken back to communities so they can see how their concerns and recommendations were incorporated or addressed.

Furthermore, village leaders who were part of the “consultations” complained that they were rushed and needed more time to comprehend as a group in their own time. The APA said that despite highlighting the issues at the Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee (MSSC) discussions, additional time was not given to the leaders.

“It must be reiterated that the Government submitted its proposal to ART for the approval of carbon credits without the knowledge and consent of Guyana’s indigenous peoples – even though the credits include those generated from forests on indigenous peoples’ titled and untitled lands. The proposal also includes an opaque benefit-sharing mechanism that had not been developed in consultation with indigenous peoples,” the APA stated.

President Irfaan Ali, stated earlier this month that the country plans to sell 30% of its carbon credits to Hess Corporation for a total of US$750 million. 15% of the proceeds, according to vice president Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, will be distributed to Guyana’s indigenous communities.

Dr. Jagdeo said that National Toshaos Council officials decided on a 15% share of the profits after extensive negotiations with Government.

Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo

“We believe the National Toshaos Council is the NGO that really matters most in this country because it is made up of the elected leaders, so it has to be accountable to people. Some of the other NGOs were great, they were all invited to participate on the multi-stakeholders meeting and they were very supportive but the National Toshaos Council is the primary interlocutors with the Government,” the Vice President said.

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