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Norway to give Guyana up to $250M for rainforest conservation

Norway will provide up to $250 million to Guyana as part of the South American country’s effort to avoid emissions from deforestation.

Under the terms of the agreement, signed today, Norway will put $30 million into Guyana’s “REDD+” development fund. Subsequent payments — up to $250 million in total — would be contingent of Guyana’s ability to avoid future deforestation. Guyana’s deforestation is presently negligible, but the country has argued that proposed development projects could lead to an increase in logging and conversion for large-scale agriculture and plantations. It says the development fund will be used for sustainable development projects and climate change adaptation measures.

Guyana Shield rainforest

“We want to avoid the high-carbon development trajectory that today’s developed world followed,” said President Bharrat Jagdeo in a statement. “It will be impossible to defeat climate change if we don’t significantly reduce tropical deforestation. We said several years ago that the people of Guyana stood ready to play our part in determining how this can be done. We are delighted to work alongside Norway in searching for solutions that align the development aspirations of our people with the urgent need to protect the world’s tropical forests.”

“Through this partnership, we are building a bridge between developed and developing countries,” added Norway’s Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim. “We are giving the world a workable model for climate change collaboration between North and South. It’s not perfect, but it’s good, and it will be improved upon as we learn and develop together.”

Conservationists welcomed the deal.

“This is a historic agreement with great relevance to the decisions that must emerge from Copenhagen to ensure that nations with a great conservation history are rewarded for their continued commitment to protecting forests,” said Fred Boltz, Senior Vice President of Conservation International, an NGO that has worked closely with President Jagdeo in developing the country’s Low Carbon Development Strategy and forest carbon conservation program. “It is a visionary act, demonstrating the leadership of Guyana and Norway in ensuring the future of the Earth’s remaining wilderness areas – forests critical to resolving the global climate crisis and securing the future for all life on Earth.”

“This is a truly monumental agreement that has dramatic positive implications for rainforest countries around the world, and for the global climate,” added Russell A Mittermeier, President of Conservation International, in a statement. “It means a better future for the people of Guyana, and has major implications for other tropical rainforest countries as well.”

Norway has pledged more than 3 billion krone ($530 million) a year to saving forests. It has already committed more than 1.4 dollars to rainforest conservation in tropical countries over the past two years, including up to a billion dollars to Brazil’s Amazon Fund, $73 million towards the development and implementation of a national REDD strategy in Tanzania over the next five years, and more than $100 million to Congo Basin countries.

Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Government of the Kingdom of Norway regarding Cooperation on Issues related to the Fight against Climate Change, the Protection of Biodiversity and the Enhancement of Sustainable Development [PDF]

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