Indigenous peoples’ rights and climate policies in Guyana: a special report

Indigenous peoples’ rights and climate policies in Guyana: a special report

Guyana is a high forest cover and low deforestation country with tropical forests covering up to 85% of the national land area. The vast majority of Guyana’s forests are found on lands traditionally used and occupied by Amerindian families and communities. Indigenous peoples include Arawak, Akawaio, Arekuna, Carib, Makushi, Patamona, Wapichan, Warrau and Wai Wai who together number around 80,000 people dispersed in more than 160 communities and thousands of scattered homesteads in the interior of the country.

Since 2007 the government of Guyana has become a lead advocate among Southern governments for ‘green growth’ and international payments for forest nations tied to proven reductions in forest clearance alongside avoided deforestation and investments in low carbon development. In 2009 the government was successful in securing a major bilateral agreement with the Kingdom of Norway in support of forest and climate protection and Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). Since the start of the development of the LCDS, indigenous and civil society organisations have highlighted the essential need for special attention to indigenous peoples’ rights to ensure sustainability, legality and equitable benefit sharing in all forest and climate initiatives and policies, including robust protections for customary land rights and free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).

This review draws on extensive community visits and policy analyses conducted by the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) and the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) between 2009 and 2013.

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