GIPEX 2018 summit…underscores importance to emerging oil and gas sectorsBy Samuel SukhnandanFormer Presidential Adviser on the Environment, Shyam Nokta, speaking at the panel “How can oil and gas support the Model Green State” at GIPEX 2018, indicated that, since 2010, Guyana had started the process towards a green economy through the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), which was supported by the Kingdom of Norway.He emphasised that the model was built on innovation, where, for the first time, forest climate services were monetised and a mechanism for payments was developed and implemented, and this had seen Guyana receiving close to US$200 million as payment for forest climate services.Nokta pointed out that the innovation showed by Guyana and Norway and the lessons learned have been valuable in helping other forest countries which are pursuing reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), and shaping elements of the Paris Agreement.He indicated that Guyana needed to build on the LCDS and to continue the Norway partnership, even as the country looks forward to an oil and gas industry.Nokta, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Environmental Management Consultants, pointed out that the two concepts are not mutually exclusive, but rather could be mutually supportive.In this regard, he emphasised that the sustainability of a green economy would hinge on a diversified economy and energy mix, and oil and gas revenue can serve as a catalyst.He further emphasised that there is urgent need for the national development framework to be put in place to facilitate this, and he highlighted the critical important of national participation and involvement of all stakeholders.The panel was chaired by former Presidential Adviser Rear Admiral (retd) Gary Best; and included Dr. David Singh, Director of Conservation International Guyana, Ndibi Schwiers, Head of the Department of Environment in the Ministry of the Presidency, and James Ellsmor, CEO of Solar Head of State, a US-based energy company.Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, told the National Assembly last year that the innovative forest conservation for money Norway-Guyana deal is “well and alive”, but will be redirected to a number of different viable projects.Harmon announced that the Kingdom of Norway had agreed to release US$14 million for a sustainable land development and management project. In addition to that, to that, some US$17 million would be released for several Information and Communications Technology (ICT) projects, while funding for the Amerindian Fund and Amerindian Land Titling project is ongoing.According to Harmon, Norway has also extended to December 2021 the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) Trustee Account that ended in December 2016. He said 285 grants and 120 loans have been approved under the Micro and Small Enterprise Project, as against the previous two-year figures.The release of these funds forms part of the US$80 million which were earmarked for the Amaila Falls Hydro Project. However, the Government has made its intention known that it does not wish to proceed with Amaila. Instead, the funds will now be channelled to a number of different ‘clean energy’ initiatives.The LCDS has been the brainchild of former President Bharrat Jagdeo, who introduced the revolutionary strategy in 2009, the updated version of which was confirmed in 2013.Government recently announced plans to launch the Green State Development Strategy, which is expected to replace the LCDS.