“Georgetown ain’t got a tree. We got the trees”—Amerindian Power & Participation in Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy
Aims and Scope of the Paper
2.1. REDD+ in Guyana: The Guyana-Norway Agreement
- “transform Guyana’s economy to deliver greater economic and social development for the people of Guyana by following a low carbon development path”
- “provide a model for the world of how climate change can be addressed through low carbon development in developing countries”  (p. 2)
2.2. The LCDS and Indigenous Communities
“The Constitution of Guyana guarantees the rights of indigenous peoples and other Guyanese to participation, engagement and decision making in all matters affecting their well-being. These rights will be respected and protected throughout Guyana’s REDD-plus and LCDS efforts. There shall be a mechanism to enable the effective participation of indigenous peoples and other local forest communities in planning and implementation of REDD-plus strategy and activities.” (p. 5)
2.3. Participation in Environmental Governance
2.4. Case Study Site—Chenapou
3. Materials and Methods
3.1. Case Study Approach and Selection
3.2. Narrative Interviews
3.3. Methods of Analysis—Evaluation of Participation
4.1. Effective Participaiton Largely Failed
“They [the government] come in for an hour, mostly just 30 minutes, talk and then leave for their boat to Kaieteur. You can’t expect people to understand all that so fast. Then they call that consultation”(I:2)
“These government officials come and spend one day and keep meeting for two hour and beat out and go back to town. They don’t got time to stay, they schedule always busy”(I:3)
“Within two hours we wanted to put forward things they must do. You know, give people a chance to talk, you know?... Only three or four persons got to say something, what about the rest?... And they want you to listen to them and they don’t want you to talk”(I:23)
“…but I know with this LCDS and this FLEGT (EU- FLEGT is a mechanism set up to reduce illegal logging and promote sustainable forestry by certifying sourcing of timber to the EU (EU-FLEGT 2016). It is not a part of the LCDS formally but was confused by many in the community as being associated with the LCDS mechanism.) they are getting a lots of funds to do these [outreach] programmes which they are not really doing. I mean with these workshops that I have been attending so far I have learnt that a lot of money being put into Guyana to do these consultations to do these, what you call it…outreach programmes they call it—in communities that may be affected by the programme that they are planning now.”(I:28)
4.2. Knowledge of the LCDS
“No one really understand about it…We ain’t getting the understanding. It is only down there [Georgetown] they is getting to know what is happening”(I:14)
“Low, something, carbon, something…I can’t remember…Low carbon something something. We don’t really hear nothing about that, them just come and tell we one thing and we don’t know…they just left we in the dark man. They don’t like Chenapou people.”(I:3)
“I can’t remember it was about two years ago…again as I am saying it was just a ten, fifteen-minute story (explaining the LCDS) so people don’t know anything at all in Chenapou about what they are really doing or what LCDS really is. You understand?When you see there is this big, big long (LCDS document). I mean they have the book, they have the draft what you call it (LCDS update document) but they don’t really explain, I mean one or two people would read it and they may understand it in one or two parts, but then all this different, different things you know. It is difficult, it is difficult.”(I:28)
“The large documents we get (from external programmes) are hard to read and long…we think that they should come more in our own language [Patamona] that would be easier for us to understand”(I:18)
4.3. ‘Lip Service’ Participation
“They (politicians) say they are busy and they are making a special time to visit, but really they are just coming, talking and going. Then in town (Georgetown) they can make like they consulted the whole community when they didn’t even listen to them!”(I:20)
“They say one thing and do another…they think buck-man (This term is generally considered a derogatory, racial label carrying connotations of a lack of intelligence or development towards an Amerindian.) are stupid when really they are some brilliant people. The government just think they can get away with telling them (Amerindians) what they like and then going back to town and telling everyone they have consulted the Amerindian.”(I:2)
Minister of Tourism Visit
“Just for future, for the record. Sometimes we are tired with government officials coming to speak and really spending just a small time. Sometimes, you know, some people are very slow and they might have something to say and the time has gone up…(interjection from another community member present) That is what happening right now.…in future we would like that you come to visit often, you would stay with us and listen to all who want to talk and then you could get a good note once everything has taken place and you can have a very balanced view. And I hope that in future our senior minister Allicock (Sidney Allicock—Vice President and Minister of Indigenous Peoples Affairs.) is coming here, we do not want only to have a visit when the time is up (end of administration wherein the government can do no more). That has happened in the last administration and we do not want that to occur in this new administration.”(I:16)
4.4. Widespread Mistrust
“Really and truly Sir, the government don’t like Chenapou. Chenapou has a big voice and will stand firm to government and its rights which the government don’t like, so they play politics against us”.(I:20)
“They (GoG) just grabbing from the Amerindian’s all the time. They are destroying our freedom too, with this FLEGT (This participant’s description of EU-FLEGT was really a working explanation of REDD+. So when interpreting this comment we infer it more as a reflection on REDD+ (the reference to who should be getting the money shows this) than EU-FLEGT.) thing they gone destroy the freedom, they gone really destroy our freedom, because we accustomed to cutting bushes how we want to but now as they doing this they getting money, they don’t want us to do these things. It’s affecting us. It is going to start affecting the community, all the communities and furthermore it is we who got the trees, it is we who supposed to get the money, not them.”(I:3)
“And where is it going? In the government pocket…Georgetown getting all the money and Georgetown ain’t got a tree! We got the trees”(I:22)
4.5. Respect for Indigenous Rights
“I’m asking the government, or the heads [ministers], to show more respect to what we say as the Patamona people because we born here, we grew here and we know what around us. We know how to live with our mountain, with our rivers and what we say I think this is what should be respected before any other rules and regulations from the government side”(I:16)
“Right, so you know these (LCDS) documents. It seems that there is nothing really, nothing to do with the Amerindians communities when you look at it. The FLEGT and the LCDS that is how I see it: nothing really to do with the Amerindian. So, if they could consider us in whatever they are doing in the future that would be so great and then come in to tell us and let us know.”(I:18)
“Really, how long have we (Chenapou) been behind?”(I:11)
“I study these things and I said look, I think the time is now for us to stand for our rights, it is time. For too long we have been deprived from our rights. We have been deprived in this country for a long, long time. It is now that we know our rights and we try to share with our people that this is our rights, this is what should happen this is not what should happen. Don’t let people tell you: ‘this here is good for you’ when you know it is not good for you. Let the people know that no, that is not good for me this is good for me. That is what we told them……we decide what is ours, we decide what is good for us, you don’t come from the coastland telling us that this should be good for you- we decide together, we decide what is good for us that is what we must tell you. And you must adhere to these things but that is not what is happening with this government, and it has been happening for years, now I am 43 years old …”(I:29)
5.1. Why has Participation been so Poor?
“In Guyana the distinction between the Coast and the Interior is more than merely a geographical one. It dominates the Coastal society’s conception of its country…The town…is a bright, exciting place, full of interesting people. At the other extreme the Bush is a dark, dangerous, uninteresting place, inhabited by fierce animals and backward, furtive Amerindians.” (p. 11)
5.2. Consequences of Failed Participation: ‘Opportunity Costs’
“Georgetown getting all the money and Georgetown ain’t got a tree! We got the trees”(I:22)
5.3. Poor Participation is a Transgression of Fundamental Indigenous Rights
5.4. Critique of the Model of Development-Distribution of Power
“The NICFI [Norwegian climate and forest initiative] operations in two key partner countries (Guyana and Indonesia) were less well regarded, both in terms of staffing levels and operational experience with these country partners…the number of staff is perceived as small, particularly the operational capacity in two countries with large bilateral programmes” (p. xxviii)
“NICFI presence in some partner countries is perceived as being too limited. This is particularly so in Guyana where despite excellent technical progress, there is considerable dissent among wider stakeholders at the limited progress on enabling activities and a view that Norway has an incomplete view of how its funds are being spent. It is concluded that the staffing situation in Guyana requires deeper consideration of alternative options.” (p. xxxii)
Conflicts of Interest
|Reason for visit||1998||1999||2000||2001||2002||2003||2004||2005||2006||2007||2008||2009||2012||2013||2014||2015||Total|
|Mining GGMC *||2||3||4||10||1||4||7||2||2||35|
|KNP (PAC) †||6||4||6||5||13||3||4||16||1||1||1||60|
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|What is it?||Objective(s)||Progress to Date|
|Multi-stakeholder Steering Committee (MSSC)||An “institutionalized, systematic and transparent process of multi-stakeholder consultation(s)” on the LCDS  (p. 5)||To enable the “participation of all potentially affected and interested stakeholders at all stages of the REDD-plus/LCDS process”  (p. 4)||IIED report in 2009 noted it to be "credible, transparent and inclusive"  (p. 5) but 2012 Rainforest Alliance report found the mechanism "not effectively enabled"  (p. 7). Records suggest there have been no documented MSSC meetings since the change of government in 2015 |
|Amerindian Land Titling (ALT) project||A project "designed to advance the process of titling the outstanding Amerindian lands currently awaiting demarcation and titling"  (p.7)||To complete “land titling for all eligible Amerindian communities by 2015”  (p. 5)||A number of outstanding title claims, demarcation issues and boundary conflicts persist. The ALT required to establish a second phase |
|Amerindian Development Fund (ADF)||Fund set up by GRIF * to support "socio-economic development of Amerindian communities" by meeting their "own priorities…and objectives"  (p. 9)||To support the 166 recognised Amerindian communities with development plans  (p. 24)||Pilot and phase 1 completed: "[A] total of US$ 1,298,577 has been disbursed to ninety (90) communities/villages"  (p.2)|
|Opt-In Mechanism (OIM)||Mechanism intended to allow "indigenous peoples [to] choose [whether] to “Opt-In” to the national REDD+ mechanism and receive a pro rata share of Guyana’s REDD+ earnings" or not.  (p. 3)||To be operationally piloted by 2015 [34,53]||Extensive delays mean pilot settlement selected but Opt-In pilot process has yet to begin|
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Airey, S.; Krause, T. “Georgetown ain’t got a tree. We got the trees”—Amerindian Power & Participation in Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy. Forests 2017, 8, 51. https://doi.org/10.3390/f8030051
Airey S, Krause T. “Georgetown ain’t got a tree. We got the trees”—Amerindian Power & Participation in Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy. Forests. 2017; 8(3):51. https://doi.org/10.3390/f8030051Chicago/Turabian Style
Airey, Sam, and Torsten Krause. 2017. "“Georgetown ain’t got a tree. We got the trees”—Amerindian Power & Participation in Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy" Forests 8, no. 3: 51. https://doi.org/10.3390/f8030051