“Georgetown ain’t got a tree. We got the trees” - Amerindian Power & Participation in Guyana’s LCDS

Photo: Project Trust, Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

“Georgetown ain’t got a tree. We got the trees” - Amerindian Power & Participation in Guyana’s LCDS

New paper co-authored by Sam Airey and Focali member Torsten Krause, examines to which extent the indigenous population of Guyana is included within the Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). This single site case study concludes that significant adjustments are needed, e.g. more contextualised governance and decentralising power.


International bi-lateral agreements to support the conservation of rainforests to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are growing in prevalence. In 2009, the governments of Guyana and Norway established Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). We examine the extent to which the participation and inclusion of Guyana’s indigenous population within the LCDS is being achieved. We conducted a single site case study, focussing on the experiences and perceptions from the Amerindian community of Chenapou. Based on 30 interviews, we find that a deficit of adequate dialogue and consultation has occurred in the six years since the LCDS was established. Moreover, key indigenous rights, inscribed at both a national and international level, have not been upheld with respect to the community of Chenapou. Our findings identify consistent shortcomings to achieve genuine participation and the distinct and reinforced marginalisation of Amerindian communities within the LCDS. A further critique is the failure of the government to act on previous research, indicating a weakness of not including indigenous groups in the Guyana-Norway bi-lateral agreement. We conclude that, if the government is to uphold the rights of Amerindian communities in Guyana, significant adjustments are needed. A more contextualised governance, decentralising power and offering genuine participation and inclusion, is required to support the engagement of marginal forest-dependent communities in the management of their natural resources.

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