Guiana Shield Facility supports sustainable development

For the last two decades the Guiana Shield Facility (GSF) has emerged as the primary motor of sustainable development of the Guiana Shield eco-region, covering more than 2.5 million ha. The region extends from Colombia in the west to the Brazilian state of Amapá in the east, including the Venezuelan states of Delta Amacuro, Amazonas and Bolívar, encompasses all of Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana and continues into the ecologically associated areas of the Brazilian states of Pará, Roraima and Amazonas

The Guiana Shield Facility is managed by the UNDP Country Office in Guyana. From 2007- 2014 the European Union has allocated more than € 3 million to the funding facility, while the government of the Netherlands has provided €1.5 million for the period 2012-2014.

guiana map
Map credit: Guiana Facility

A unique region

Conservation of the Guiana Shield region, containing the largest complex of uninterrupted and intact primary tropical rainforest on earth, is of great importance in the global battle against climate change due to its huge storage of carbon dioxide and capacity to absorb CO2.The region contains 10-15% of the world’s fresh water reserves and an extremely rich diversity of plants and animals, most of which are unique to this region. Most importantly, the region is still largely inhabited by indigenous communities whose livelihood depends on the environmental goods and services provided by the region's ecosystems, such as water, food, and medicines.

However, despite the wealth of natural resources in the region, the poverty level remains high. High levels of external debt and weak institutional capacity exert an increasing pressure on governments and local populations to choose economic activities which are beneficial on the short term, but that are often unsustainable, damaging the unique character of the eco-region.

This has led to a lack of land use planning, as well as the production of illicit drugs, illegal mining and logging, ill-planned infrastructure projects, and expansion of the agricultural frontier. All of which are putting an increasing pressure on the ecosystems of this unique eco-region.

Sustainable development at local, regional and global level

The objectives of the Guiana Shield Facility is to develop an integrated eco-regional policy and a sustainable financial mechanism, at various levels, that compensates local ecosystem managers and environmentally responsible businesses for the environmental goods and services they deliver, thereby providing alternative means to the inhabitants of the region, ensuring its ecological integrity. The principle of compensating the inhabitants of the Guiana Shield region for the conservation of their ecosystems is recognized in existing international conventions, in particular the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Consequently, the Guiana Shield financial mechanism is a transfer from the world community to those managing a global public good, namely the climate, under existing and binding legal arrangements. It is an arrangement of equal partners promoting national ownership and partnership.

Guiana Eco Shield
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