Guiana Shield Facility (GSF)
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: Guiana Shield Facility (GSF)
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Water (1 hits),

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Guiana Shield Facility (GSF)

The Guiana Shield Facility (GSF) is a multi-donor funding facility, which aims to support the conservation and sustainable development of the unique ecosystems of the bio-diverse Guiana Shield eco-region.

The operating premise of the GSF is that by providing incentives for the conservation of the unique ecosystems of the Guiana Shield towards ensuring the long-term delivery of its globally important environmental services will contribute to poverty reduction and will help an eco-region beset by threats such as: (il)legal deforestation, (il)legal mining, Water pollution, social and health problems connected to mining, poaching of wildlife, and lack of a coordinated framework for planning, priority setting and management of natural resources.

The ecosystems of the Guiana Shield have in recent times been increasingly threatened by many problems that are common to all the countries in the Guiana Shield. To support national level conservation and sustainable, a common front is needed as well as attractive alternatives to natural resources exploitation. The Paramaribo Declaration of 2002 emphasised the uniqueness of the eco-region and its importance with regard to ecosystem services. In addition, it emphasised that ?the burden of conservation must be supported by the international community and should not fall on the countries of the region alone?. This implies that there should be a compensation system for Guiana Shield countries for conservation of their ecosystems, which is a key objective of the GSF.

This principle is already recognised by the existing international conventions, in particular the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC states that ?the parties should protect the climate system for the benefit of present and future generations of mankind on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.? The CBD stresses ?the importance of and the need to promote, international, regional and global cooperation among states and inter-governmental organisation and the non-governmental sector for the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of its components.? The Convention also stresses that ?the extent to which developing country Parties will effectively implement their commitments under this Convention will depend on the effective implementation by developed country parties of their commitments under this Convention related to financial resources and transfer of technology.?

The innovative idea of the Guiana Shield Initiative (GSI) ? precursor to the GSF - was to link these transfers to the efforts of those responsible for maintaining the integrity of the ecology of the Guiana Shield as one of the last large (250 million hectares) intact tropical rain forest areas in the world and therefore from a climate, a biodiversity and a freshwater perspective of global significance. This was not a classical form of the rich developed countries giving to the poor developing countries, but a transfer from the world community to those managing a global public good, under existing (and binding) legal arrangements. A substantial benefit of this is not only that it is rooted in international law and thus of a long-term nature, but also that is an arrangement between equal partners.

From 2006-2010, through the GSI, the UNDP in partnership with the European Union and IUCN National Committee of the Netherlands (IUCN NL), piloted an incentive scheme for conservation and sustainable development from 2006-2010. The incentive scheme included ecosystem services contracts, innovative remote sensing technology coupled with ground monitoring and which was based on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the DPSIR framework, and culturally appropriate benefit sharing.

The thrust of the contractual agreements was that the contract holder (ecosystem manager) and the associated local communities, which depend on the natural resources / ecosystem services provided by the ecosystem, were compensated or rewarded for maintaining and managing those resources or services. The GSI applied the basic level approach to the incentive scheme, which included the costs for monitoring of ecosystem services as well as benefit sharing with the stakeholder local communities.

Three services: climate regulation (carbon sequestration), biodiversity and freshwater were studied. Monitoring of these services was carried out on the basis of selected indicators at the eco-regional level and at the level of pilot sites using radar remote sensing tools and ground truthing. At the eco-region scale, the monitoring objective was to provide up-to-date information on land cover and vegetation (changes), with a particular focus on forest cover. At the pilot site scale, monitoring was focused on status and trends of the three ecosystem services. Where equipment and materials for monitoring were lacking at the pilot sites, they were provided by the GSI.

In the basic level approach to PES, allocation of resources for benefit sharing tied to independently verified and reported delivery of ecosystem services is very important for empowerment, participation and building social capital of local communities.

In 2010, the GSI evolved into the GSF, which will over the next four years, seek to build national ownership and partnership with donors and other key partners, and strengthen the GSF as an eco-regional framework for the conservation and sustainable development of the Guiana Shield eco-region.

The global significance of the Guiana Shield eco-region and its ecosystem services was, is, and will be the rationale for transfers between the international community and those responsible for maintaining the ecological and cultural integrity of the Guiana Shield. So far, the ecological significance has been best documented by the Priority Setting Workshop (PSW) held during the first GSI Phase in April 2002 in Paramaribo, Suriname. During that workshop, biodiversity, geology, watersheds, protected areas, forestry, mining, infrastructure, non-timber forest products, socio-economic pressures, etc., were described and mapped by 200 regional and international scientific and policy experts. The 2002 PSW exercise also served as the scientific basis of the Paramaribo Declaration signed and adopted on 9 April 2002, to guide the further development of the GSI.

On the 27-28 October 2011, a high level team of State and non-State actors met in Paramaribo and reviewed the 2002 PSW to learn what has changed in terms of implementation of the agreed actions as well as new pressures and threats. The 2011 Workshop was unanimous in its expression of support for the PSW process and recognition of the GSF as the delivery mechanism of financial support to efforts to conserve and sustainably development the Guiana Shield eco-region at all scales. It is highly anticipated that the GSF will form part of the deliberations at Rio+20.

The Guiana Shield Facility: A UNDP-EU led multi-donor partnership for conservation and sustainable development

The EU has allocated over EUR 3 million in AIDCO grant funds through the UNDP for the conservation and sustainable development of the Guiana Shield eco-region. The Guiana Shield is an eco-region of regional and global significance. It has an area of 2.5 million km (250 million hectares), which accounts for about one- quarter of the world?s remaining tropical rain forests, of which 80-90% is still in pristine condition. All or parts of six countries (in alphabetical order: Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela) share the geographic area of the Guiana Shield. According to the Paramaribo Declaration, it ranks as one of the world?s last wild places.

In ecological terms, the Guiana Shield eco-region is of global importance. It is made up of several unique ecosystems that:

- Store approximately 10-15% of global freshwater supply

- Store about 50 billion tonnes of carbon

- Support an estimated 20,000 vascular plant species, of which about 35% is endemic

- Provide habitat for rich biodiversity, including 975 species of avifauna, 282 mammalian species, 280 reptilian species, 272 amphibian species and 2,200 fish species.

Despite their wealth of natural resources, the countries of the region have high levels of poverty, external debt and weak institutional capacity, all of which often cause governments and local populations to choose economic activities which are short-term income generators, but which may not be sustainable (e.g. exploitation of oil, gold, diamond, and tropical hardwoods, and undertaking of big infrastructure projects). Through the GSF, a comprehensive regional planning process for the conservation of the Guiana Shield is being assembled to complement individual country efforts to manage common problems and pursue region-wide human development.

The Guiana Shield Initiative (GSI) has pursued since 1993, the goal of promoting the sustainable development of the Guiana Shield eco-region by means of an integrated eco-regional management framework so as to enable the countries and their local communities to finance, develop, manage and benefit from the natural resources by maintaining climate regulatory integrity, conserving biodiversity and protecting watersheds.

The operating premise is that preserving ecosystem functions will benefit stakeholders at the local, national and global levels and indeed help fulfil national obligations under the multilateral environmental agreements and the relevant regional arrangements.

In the long run, by preserving nature and therefore natural livelihood resources, a significant contribution will be made towards poverty alleviation and resource management by the local/indigenous inhabitants. Regulatory ecosystem services are public goods, and are the responsibility of, foremost national governments and inter- and supra-national structures such as the UN and EU. The global climate is a clear example.

For further information on the GSF, please contact

Chisa Mikami, Deputy Resident Representative Or: Patrick Chesney, Chief Technical Advisor

Email: Email:

United Nations Development Programme

42 Brickdam & United Nations Place, Stabroek

Georgetown, GUYANA

Phone: 592 226-4049

Fax: 592 226-2942;

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