Greenest country on earth (Suriname) is formalizing its vision on forests
On 21 March 2013, 18.45hrs, the Participants Committee of the World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility unanimously approved the Suriname Readiness Preparation Proposal for REDD+ (R-PP). Suriname hereby gives a strong signal to the world that she is committing to sustainable development in the interests of its own people. As a high forest-low deforestation country Suriname was already acknowledged for its proven sustainable forestry system. REDD+ is a next step in the balance between economic development for the people and preservation of nature and social-cultural habits for generations to come. In this vision the forests are undeniably connected with both.
With the approval of the resolution about the Suriname REDD+ Proposal, Suriname gets international acknowledgement for her vision on how to deploy forests to support her sustainable development. The Government had already committed itself to sustainable development with a balance between economic development and social development in her Development Plan 2012-2016, and is now exploring REDD+ as one of the possible tools to support her delivery on that commitment. The forests have always been of pivotal importance to the livelihoods of the peoples in Suriname. This REDD+ R-PP approval is the first step in further formalizing the role of and vision on forests for the coming years.
“Because of the essential role of forests and because of our international stewardship role as the greenest country on earth, the government placed the REDD+ project at the highest ranks of Government,’ said Mr. John Goedschalk, project manager of the REDD+ team. The project management team therefore operated as a unit under the Office of the President, directly overseen by the Director of National Security.
A project group consisting of 35 individuals from society, with extensive knowledge of forests, supported the project management team to compile the final REDD+ proposal. This group was a mix of academia, professors, government officials, indigenous people, tribal leaders and development workers. During the project the REDD+ project team executed a number of local and national dialogues to gather qualitative input for the report. For the local dialogues, people from the different indigenous tribes were trained to become the so-called REDD+ assistants. These REDD+ assistants organized and facilitated the local dialogues according to cultural habits and in their own local language.
On March 21st Suriname got its approval, after two previous attempts in 2009 and 2010. Especially the technical information and the inclusion of tribal people’s views improved the proposal significantly. With this approval Suriname will receive an initial grant of USD 3,8 million to support her Readiness activities. The National Environmental Institute and Development in Suriname (NIMOS) will coordinate the REDD+ Readiness activities and will start investing in institutional strengthening and expansion of the number of dialogues.
For more information
Mr. John Goedschalk, project manager REDD+ Suriname: (+597) 8628236 firstname.lastname@example.org
Reactions from Suriname representatives, right after the approval of the Suriname R-PP.
Ms. Josine Aloema, Chair of the Organization of Indigenous Suriname (OIS) and invited as observer by the World Bank “I am very proud of the pioneering work that John (Goedschalk) completed with the support of the other project group members. During the meeting I informed the international delegates that the issues regarding the Saramacca judgment are not realistic at this time. The indigenous communities believe that the judgment should be reevaluated, because the judgment is disadvantageous for them because they are the countries’ first inhabitants. The President and his taskforce did a good job, we congratulate President Bouterse, the Government and the whole Surinamese community with this success.”
Mr. Lesley Artist, Chair of the Union of Indigenous Tribal Leaders of Suriname (VIDS) and Suriname delegate “We are relieved thanks to the approval, especially because it was rejected twice before. We are happy that we were able to play an active role this time. And we have indeed given our critical assistance. The Surinamese delegation gave us speaking time at the World Bank, which made our contribution even more significant. The agreement is that we will implement the plans together. We, the indigenous, place our expertise about the forest at the disposal of the project, so that we can contribute to the national development. The President has already stated that the indigenous people need to be taken out of their position of deprivation; we think that REDD+ will definitely help to achieve this. While we do not follow the international judgment, we do think that REDD+ will be a boost towards solving the land rights discussion.”
Mr. Cedric Nelom, Director of the National institute for Environment and Development in Suriname (Nimos) and Suriname delegate
Note: NIMOS will do the follow-up for REDD+ on behalf of Suriname “For Suriname, this will mean that we will use a planning tool to further develop Suriname by mainly using our forest. We will have to work together with all the stakeholders (Government, Private sector, Non-profit organizations, communities and users of the forest). The first thing we need to do now is put the terms and conditions in place during the upcoming two months (e.g. due diligence). Nimos is equipped for handling those terms and conditions. We did not waste any time and have been preparing since last December for this due diligence. When the funds are released after successfully completing the administrative procedures later this year, this will be put towards setting up the institutional management, to proceed with dialogues with communities and coordination of stakeholders.”
Mr. John Goedschalk, project manager REDD+ Suriname and Suriname delegation leader
“The approval raises an enormous sense of pride and hope in us. Pride in the knowledge that this R-PP truly is a Surinamese product. Hope because the international community finally understands the message and vision of Suriname and voiced her support through this approval.
This experience exposed some strong contradictions within parts of our society. We will need to rid these through constructive dialogue and innovative solutions, but in our “Surinamese way”.
May it be clear that this victory should only be perceived as a starting point for a process that can only enhance the future well being of our nation. The insights and contributions of all Surinamese are indispensible; man, women, laborer, scholar, young and old, from east to west and north to south.
As our President (Bouterse, red.) so often says… we owe it to our children.”
 The members of the Participants Committee of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) are Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom, USA, the European Commission, The Nature Conservancy, Cameroon, Colombia, El Salvador, Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia, Liberia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Republic of Congo, Suriname and Thailand.