The Ministry of Natural Resources and the National Toshaos Council (NTC) met last week to discuss areas of possible cooperation and ways in which the Ministry might be able to lend support to enable the NTC and its members to address a number of challenges, some of which are natural resources related. The main outcome of the meeting which took place on December 8, 2017 in the boardroom of the MNR on Upper Brickdam is the decision to establish a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two entities.
The MOU was proposed by the NTC after identifying a number of areas for which it needs the support of the Natural Resources Ministry. These included gaps in communication and information sharing; forest concessions being granted contiguous to indigenous lands; mining in indigenous communities; the need for monetary resources for the NTC, among others. Minister Trotman supported the idea of the MOU and pledged to work with the NTC to find a positive way forward.
The Minister gave a commitment that the Commissioners of the Guyana Geology (GGMC) and Mines Commission and the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) will use verification approaches that would include villages.
Minister Trotman suggested that a small team of maximum seven persons be identified to work on the MOU draft before January. The suggested areas to be included are: communication, training and capacity building, meetings, environmental matters, enforcement of the laws among others.
The Minister said that he was overjoyed about a better relationship between the MNR and the NTC and encouraged constructive criticisms in the interest of arriving at solutions.
The Ministry of Natural Resources is not unaware of the negative impact forestry and mining can have on some indigenous communities and it is for this reason that we endeavour to find solutions that benefit not only the extractive sectors but also the lives of our indigenous brothers and sisters.