© Conservation International photo by John Martin

CI-Guyana and NTC ink GY$3.3M grant to strength the indigenous organisation’s financial and operations systems

CI-Guyana and NTC ink GY$3.3M grant to strength the indigenous organisation’s financial and operations systems

Georgetown, Guyana

October 26, 2018

Conservation International-Guyana (CI-Guyana) and the National Toshaos Council (NTC) signed a GY$3.3M grant agreement to continue building the institutional capacity of the Council.

The grant will be used to strengthen the financial and operations systems of the NTC’s secretariat over the next year and continues work that has been ongoing since 2016. Strengthening organisations like the NTC to more efficiently and effectively execute their mandate ensures that Guyanese, who are already connected to nature, are empowered and have the tools they need to plan for their future in a way which secures Guyana’s natural heritage.

Chairman of the National Toshaos Council, Nicholas Fredericks thanked his predecessors who signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with CI-Guyana in 2016 which has led to this and other grants.  Fredericks admitted that at first, he was unclear about what was happening and as such was skeptical about the relationship between CI-Guyana and the NTC. However, the chairman said that he now understands that whatever was done was in the best interest of the organisation and indigenous peoples.

He believes the MOU was a bold step towards transforming the organisation and “our people are reaping the benefits”.  The support from CI-Guyana has improved communication between villages and increased the efficiency of getting reports out of the various communities.

Executive Director and Vice President of CI-Guyana David Singh said the relationship between the NTC and CI-Guyana works both ways in terms of what each brings to the table. “Together we can make this world a better place,” Singh said. He explained that it is important for people to know where they want to go and have the support to plan towards getting.

According to Singh, sometimes what villagers do not have is the necessary documents for ensuring capacity building and the ability to plan.  He said it is important to allow communities to say what they want for their own future and to give them the opportunity to design that future.  Singh said, “our interest is to help the NTC make choices with people who are connected to nature, then mother earth will be preserved.”

René Edwards, CI-Guyana Field Implementation Director, said the grant is a response to a request coming out of consultations with the NTC.  The grant, Edwards shared, will help to improve systems used to identify and tackle financial and operations issues, and how reports are handled.  The NTC programme, village planning and regional planning will be improved and become more responsive to the issues affecting Indigenous People in Guyana.

Administrator of the Council’s secretariat Jude DaSilva said she is happy to see the growth and development of the secretariat.  DaSilva believes the most important thing is to ensure the financial systems, which are critical, are maintained and checked regularly to ascertain that the correct procedures are being followed.  The funds DaSilva said will be used to improve communication between the mining, forestry and land sectors.

Grace Roberts, Programme Coordinator for the NTC’s secretariat shared that the NTC has grown in terms of how they conduct their business.  The partnership between CI-Guyana and the NTC has improved the output of the organisation, she said. While the secretariat is still faced with some challenges, Roberts is confident that continued collaboration and joint efforts to improve the performance of the NTC will address the gaps.

The NTC secretariat is located at W1/2 62 Hadfield and Cross Streets, Georgetown.

Brazil-Guyana Exchange

Joint Press Statement

Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs and Conservation International Guyana

Georgetown, Guyana April 6, 2017

Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs and Vice President Sidney Allicock, speaking at the opening of a Brazil-Guyana Exchange on Tuesday, said that government is very keen on implementing the Sustainable Development Framework (SDF) which his ministry developed with technical support from Conservation International Guyana. SDF, he said, will be instrumental in giving indigenous villages more say in planning for their own development while allowing the ministry to optimize its provision of financial and technical support.

The framework is a tool which helps indigenous villages and communities define and achieve their own long term development vision and goals that are based on their specific needs. The Brazil-Guyana Exchange, part of an ongoing incentives programme, provides a valuable opportunity to share knowledge learn from Brazil about their Bolsa Verde (Green Grant).

It is a very special moment or time in the history of the countries. I bring your greetings from the president and cabinet. They government and my ministry are very keen to see this framework become a reality. We have no doubt that we can capitalize on the Brazilian experience. We will try to learn as much as we can from you. We look forward to that continued growth of partnership. People need people to make people happy. Without people, what would the environment be like? Thank you very much for coming and let us see what the forward movement will be. Last September, my ministry along with the NTC attended the Pan-Amazon Summit. The partnerships we have with key players will result in a sustainable development framework. This framework is critical to long term plan. It will build on our riches. Poverty. Because it is stated over and over again, that you do not have anything of worth. You have …that is richness. What we need to protect our richness, we need to the financial resources. It’s an opportunity for us to reverse this perspective. Think about it. What part does man play in allowing a proper ecosystem to be intact? How do they plan for and contribute to the 17 UNSDGs? Villages need our assistance and technical support. With the implementation of the SDF, we hope to rectify the shortcomings. Special mention to Dr. Singh and team who have been instrumental in providing financial and technical support. We have a mandate to work with 215 communities. To do so effectively we need to collaborate with other partners. We need to support rather than compete. We are working towards finding a new way to do things, build, improve and strengthen what is already there. We will see the changes that we are all working on together for.

Government is now in the process of developing  better communications system so that we have communication links across the country. We have to start some place. Within the month we will begin to see results.

Move away from attacking personalities and get to attacking issues so that we can begin to achieve what the framework promises. Respect, trust, commitment.

CI-Guyana Executive Director David Singh identified the important link between nature, people and development. Bolsa Verde (Green Grant), he said, has shown us the strong connection between people and nature and how important it is.

“Working with the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs on the Sustainable Development Framework and with the Regional Democratic Council of Region 9 on the Plan of Action for Regional Development, we recognize that while CI’s business is preserving nature, natural capita…we are here working together to create a future that we all want, that we all need,” Singh told the Guyana and Brazil teams.

Joel Fredericks, NTC

NTC supports the Framework and

The NTC fully supports the framework is because part of NTC’s function is to plan strategically in the best interest of the people. Where there is no vision, the people will perish. How can we work together? We have similar resources and potential. Despite meeting here and planning, if we do not have the support of the politicians and the government, it would be a challenge. As leaders we are only here to serve for a time, and what we can do let us do it to leave a legacy for our people. SDF is good for village development. We need to document this, formalize this. When you have a plan coming from a village then regardless of which leader comes, they will understand.

Mainstay example

We have to think in the future and see how we can start putting plans so that our generation to come will not say “hey, what they really did with all this resource”. We need some action.

Leonardo Pacheco Government of Brazil Representative

Bolsa Verde is one of the most important policies for the Ministry of Environment. We look forward to learning from Guyana. It is important for us to see how different policies are working in different countries so that we can learn to deal with our challenges.

The history of conservation in Brazil…incorporating the idea of people at the center of the conservation solution. People are the drivers of conservation. BV launched in 2011 to handle conservation and to tackle the extremely high levels of poverty there.

Fernando Ribeiro, CI-Brazil

This is a good opportunity to share a lot of important lessons with you and to explore opportunities for collaboration. This is based on a broader initiative, the Social Protection Network, Brazil, Ecuador and Guyana. People need nature to thrive and people also need people to thrive. (We speak of ourselves as being separate from nature when we really are one with it).

NRDDB Executive Director Eugene Xavier

We are a local organization that is made up of 20 indigenous communities in the NR. Throughout the years, we have come a far way and today we have developed relationships with partners. CI – Guyana, WWF and Iwokrama have been some of our main partners. We feel so proud to have such friends. “We need each other…for not only human development but other developments to come.” We need to reflect on the past and look ahead for other things that will benefit our people. People are beginning to understand ownership and the need to care for nature. We need the forest to survive as people, we need to reconnect with nature…our partners reinforce the spirit of togetherness and strive to keep our forests standing. The need to come back together in love with nature.

Chuck WWF

We are trying to be much more of a supporter and participator in this process. NORAD agreement. 16 percent of forests are tied to titled lands. Very important potential financial source for the SDF. We’re interested in seeing how these two things can fit together.

Opt-in Readiness. We saw a good idea from CI Guyana and so we took it up.

Manuel Cunha, beneficiary.

Minister Garrido-Lowe, Minister within the Ministry of MoIPA

I’ve been very busy and I was only involved a few times in the SDF. Dr. Singh mentioned a word that is very very important to all of us and that word is “relationship”. We have only come this far with this SDF because of CI’s relationship with the Vice President. IF you don’t build relationships and have that people skill then you won’t be able to get your vision going.

We are real humble servants and we go everywhere.

It involves Indigenous Planning. It involves the community discussing and giving their input wit guidance from people. Region 9 has had the larger part, and I’m a bit jealous, of all the training they have had. I look forward to when all this goes to the other regions. This is a good start, this is a very good start.

Regional Chairman Region 9

I have to give Jack his jacket, in that all these things started ever since before I returned to the region. It was through the Minister that I returned to the Region. “I must thank god for CI too being in the region and the country. Our relationship got stronger. President said you have to develop a plan of action and so I wrote a letter to CI requesting some help and it was readily given to us. The thing about it is partnership and people development.”

Regional 9 Democratic Council Moves Forward with Plan of Action for Regional Development

Joint Press Statement

Region 9 Regional Democratic Council and Conservation International Guyana

Lethem, Guyana February 8, 2017

The Region 9 PARD process will embrace a participatory planning approach to ensure sustainable, inclusive, and equitable socioeconomic growth through integrated planning and management of financial, human, and ecological resources.

The Regional Democratic Council of Region 9 (RDC-Rupununi) announced today that it has successfully launched its 2017 outreach activities to support development of its Plan of Action for Regional Development (PARD). Last week a team led by RDC Chair Bryan Allicock, completed a well-received four-day engagement in the South Pakaraimas Sub-District of Karasabai. The team included key members of the RDC, community leaders from across the Region who have been involved in community development planning work, executives of the Kanuku Mountains Community Representative Group (KMCRG) and Conservation International – Guyana (CI-Guyana).

Karasabai, in the South Pakaraimas, was prioritised for the first engagement, because the sub-district is yet to be involved in any formalised planning processes at this scale. Regional councillors, regional administrative staff, and district and community development officers will be trained as facilitators and translators for these workshops, thus building the capacity of the regional government body. The programme of work will include use of community development planning tools developed by the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs and CI-Guyana.

Drawing on its long history of solid engagement and strong networks within the Rupununi, CI-Guyana was invited by the Regional Chairman and the RDC to facilitate the process by providing technical expertise in regional planning and funding for stakeholder engagement and communication activities.

The PARD is an important aspect for regional development planning and will help greatly in enabling sustainable, inclusive, and equitable socioeconomic growth of the Region. It is directly related to the charge given by H.E. President Granger in July 2015, on the occasion of the swearing in of newly elected chairpersons and their deputies, where he proposed that each region needed a PARD, given the diversity of natural and human resources available across a large and geographically, ethnically, and culturally varying nation. The process is built on integrated planning and management of financial, human, and ecological resources. It recognises the central role of local government organs in leading the sustainable development of regions, aligns with on-going efforts by the Government of Guyana to decentralise planning and decision-making, and steers the region towards a green development path. The first scoping phase of the PARD for Region 9 will be completed by June 2017, in time to inform the preparation of the RDC’s 2018 budget proposals.

“It is the opportune time for this regional development planning process to be implemented within the Rupununi, as we are now presented with a range of emerging development opportunities – as an agricultural frontier and a nature and community-based – tourism destination. Not only are we preparing for change, but we will be harnessing our wealth of natural and social capital to chart the trajectory, as defined by the people of the region. We want to see the Rupununi bloom again, onwards and upwards, by setting visionary but achievable goals, contextualised to the realities on the ground. We look forward to working together with all stakeholders in this journey,” stated Chairman Allicock in launching the PARD process.

In an invited comment Mr Emil McGarrell, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communities (MoC) congratulated the RDC for its efforts, and thanked the team for the obvious work that has been done to date. He further indicated that there is much that will be learnt from the Region 9 PARD process, helping to inform the National and Regional Consultative Committees that the MoC has launched. “These committees will help to facilitate interaction and networking among regional bodies and central government, allow the sharing of ideas and experiences, and permit stakeholders to be on the same page with regard to development and management communities within a national strategy (at a National level), and to map out the developmental goals for each region, identify priorities, and allow meaningful engagement among officials, with a view to bringing such information to the national committee.”

CI-Guyana’s Technical Coordinator René Edwards reinforced his institution’s strong support for the process, stating, “The sustainable development of Region 9 can deliver long-term livelihood benefits for its people, but this can only be achieved by proactive and integrated management of competing development priorities in health, education, food security and nutrition, economic growth, environmental conservation, amongst many other major issues. This is what the PARD process will accomplish – crafting solutions that aim for complementary, reinforcing, long-term positive social, economic & environmental outcomes. We commend the RDC of Region 9 for their leadership in this ambitious and worthwhile undertaking.”

Chairman of the Region 9 Democratic Council (front left) with the Team prior to departure for Karasabai.

A New Chapter in the El Dorado Story – Launch of US$3M GEF-GOLD Initiative in Guyana

Georgetown, Guyana January 20, 2017

Conservation International-Guyana (CI Guyana) and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), in partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources and other major stakeholders, launched the GEF Global Opportunities for Long-term Development (GEF-GOLD) project in the Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) Sector in Guyana on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at the Pegasus Hotel.

During his address at the launch, Executive Director and Vice President of CI Guyana Dr. David Singh emphasized the importance of partnerships in realizing the successful implementation of solutions like GEF-GOLD.

“CI’s work is about building bridges and partnerships. So far in our initiative I’ve witnessed what is possible if we take a longer view of issues, where problems are seen as things that need to be resolved rather than seeing them as the excuse to walk away,” Dr. Singh said.

The GEF investment of some US$3M over the next four years, Dr. Singh explained, is expected to produce a well-designed intervention which, by 2020 will see mining operators in at least one geographical region of Guyana introduce into the market, gold products that are shown to have met key environmental and social safeguards, that demonstrate improved significantly higher recovery rates and close to zero mercury use in processing – these products will be branded “El Dorado Gold”.

“[T]hink of it as green gold for a greener Guyana,” he said.

GEF-GOLD combines utilization of a supply chain approach to identify opportunities to improve efficiency of the ASGM sector and a Sustainable Landscape Approach to situate the mining activities spatially and temporally.

It is also underscored by a Rights Based Approach integrating effective and inclusive stakeholder involvement, Indigenous Peoples, and gender. Through this initiative a wide range of stakeholders in the sector are being engaged in processes to design policy, technological, financial and other solutions to ensure that:

1. Gold mining activities are only carried out in places where viable deposits are located;

2. Effective integrated planning is implemented to reduce the impact of exploitation on forests and fresh water as well as improve the livelihood impact of the sector;

3. More efficient methods are employed to improve the recovery of gold from ore and reduce the use of Mercury;

4. Markets are established for ASM gold and gold products certified to have been produced responsibly; and

5. Mining sites are rehabilitated for planned after-use.

Dr. Gustavo Fonseca, GEF Director of Programmes, delivered the keynote address at the launch. The GEF-GOLD program, according to him, is being implemented in eight countries around the world by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and centers on the reduction of mercury use and releases to the environment from the ASGM Sector.

In Guyana the project will contribute to mercury-free mining by 2025 by directly involving business enterprises with a profit motive for leading the shift in the development of a mercury free ASGM value chain.

Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman and Senior Vice President for the Americas Field Division of Conservation International Dr. Sebastian Troeng and other important partners were also present and spoke encouragingly about the GEF-GOLD initiative.

From left are Dr. Sebastian Troeng, Dr. David Singh, Ms. Annette Arjoon, Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman and Dr. Gustavo Fonseca at the GEF-GOLD launch in Georgetown, Guyana.

US$3M Mercury-Abatement in Gold Mining Project in Guyana by Global Environmental Facility and Counterpart International

GEORGETOWN, Guyana. January 19, 2017

Conservation International – Guyana (CI Guyana) and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), in partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources and other major stakeholders, launched the GEF Global Opportunities for Long-term Development (GEF-GOLD) in the Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) Sector in Guyana on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at the Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown.

Dr. Gustavo Fonseca, the GEF Director of Programmes visited Guyana for the launch. In his keynote address, Dr. Fonseca Dr. Fonseca is the most senior official of the GEF to visit Guyana and will be participating in the launch of the GEF program Global Opportunities for Long-term Development (GEF-GOLD) in the Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) Sector which is being executed in Guyana by CI. The launch will take place at the Guyana Pegasus on Tuesday, January 17, 2017, and is expected to bring together representatives of industry, including miners and jewelers; government; civil society; and communities.

The GEF-GOLD program is being implemented in eight countries around the world by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and centers on the reduction of mercury use and releases to the environment from the ASGM Sector. In Guyana the project will contribute to mercury-free mining by 2025 by directly involving business enterprises with a profit motive for leading the shift in the development of a mercury free ASGM value chain. It will explore linkages with international markets that source mercury-free, responsibly-produced gold, and support the local Jewelry industry. It forms part of a broader collaborative initiative among CI, the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association, the National Toshaos Council, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, and the Environmental Protection Agency. This initiative is funded by the Norwegian Development Agency (NORAD), and focuses on mainstreaming the artisanal, small, and medium scale gold mining sector into Guyana’s green economy framework.

Before Dr. Fonseca’s current post, he was the Chief Conservation and Science Officer of Conservation International, founder and first Director of the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science, and Professor of Zoology and Ecology at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. He holds a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Florida, and published over 160 articles and books. He received the Oliver Austin Award of the University of Florida for outstanding research in the natural sciences, the Golden Ark Award, an official order of the Dutch government, among others.

The GEF was established in 1992 to serve as a catalyst for action on the environment and the global sustainable development agenda.  In Guyana, the GEF has established a Small Grants Programme that provides grants directly to Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), including Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

For more information, contact:
CI-Guyana
Email: lfoster@conservation.org
Phone: 227 8171

Note to editors:

About Conservation International

Conservation International uses an innovative blend of science, policy and partnerships to protect the nature people rely on for food, fresh water, and livelihoods. Founded in 1987, CI works in more than 30 countries on six continents and with 1,000+ partners to ensure a healthy, prosperous planet that supports us all. More information: www.conservation.org.

About The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association

The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) was established in 1982; it is registered under the Trade Union’s Act. The membership of the GGDMA is made up of gold and diamond miners of all sizes: large scale, medium and small scale. Its members produce some 90 of all minerals being sold, and of the twenty-five top producers for the past ten years, at least twenty are members of the Association.