Guyana’s tropical rainforest is acknowledged as one of the few intact forests remaining globally that can help the world fight the climate crisis and has now attracted new support from the European Union (EU).
The Government of Guyana and the EU inked a Forest Partnership Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the sidelines of the Conference of the Parties (COP) 27 in Egypt on Tuesday.
Through this MoU, Guyana will receive €5 million to help with the preservation of its forests. Mongolia, the Republic of Congo, Uganda and Zambia inked similar partnerships.
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, in brief remarks after the five pacts were inked, emphasised that only “healthy forests can provide the resources to fight climate change”.
Because of worsening climate change, the lives and livelihoods of people around the world are increasingly threatened. In Guyana, the climate crisis threatens the country’s low-lying coastal plain with devastating flooding.
Cognisant of these challenges, von der Leyen said that the EU is keen on supporting countries that have displayed much-needed environmental stewardship.
This rationale was not lost on Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali who pointed out that indeed, Guyana has been displaying immense environmental stewardship.
In fact, he boasted that Guyana is among only a handful of countries that trap more harmful carbon dioxide than is produced and emitted by the country. If this gas is released into the environment, instead of being trapped in trees, climate change will intensify.
This global good that Guyana and its intact forests provide is now being leveraged by the country through its expanded Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). Through this, Guyana argues that the forest services must have a monetary value attached to them.
Once funds are garnered for these services, whether from countries that are large carbon emitters or companies, Guyana hopes to fund its developmental plans- including indigenous development. The country’s indigenous people are known as the protectors of the forest.
To this end, the Guyanese Head of State highlighted, “With an estimated storage of 19.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, the economic value of the ecosystem services which our forests alone provide have been estimated at between US$40 to 54 billion annually.”
The LCDS sets out how forests and biodiversity can be maintained, whilst the country expands green jobs, transitions the domestic energy supply to clean and renewable energy sources, and adapts to the impacts of climate change.
In recent years, the EU and Guyana have implemented several forest-related actions recognising the urgent need for strategic and focused cooperation.