Cognizant of the consequences of climate change, the Government of Guyana remains dedicated to ensuring a sustainable low carbon environment for Guyanese through the development of the Guyana Green State Development Strategy (GSDS). This is a collaborative effort by the Government of Guyana and the United Nations (UN) Country Team to guide the country’s economic and socio-cultural development by diversifying the economy, reducing dependence on traditional sectors and creating new sustainable income and investment opportunities. The establishment of a Green Economy is fundamental to the development of a Green State and achieving the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
On April 22, 2016, the Cooperative Republic of Guyana signed on to the Paris Climate Accord, a systematic response to climate change which aims to prevent the global temperature from rising two degrees Celsius in the 21st century. Furthermore, on March 28, 2017, Guyana became the thirteenth country to join the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), which was launched in 2013 at Rio+20 and brings together five United Nations agencies — the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), International Labour Organization (ILO), UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) — to aid countries in developing a systematic plan of action for a green economy.
His Excellency John Ronald Deep Ford, Guyana’s Ambassador to Switzerland and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva and the UN organizations, played an intricate role in facilitating the visit of a team of UNEP representatives to Guyana in July 2017 to assist the Government of Guyana in conducting an analysis that will inform the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS) and by extension the establishment of a Green State and Economy.
During the visit, several sectors of the economy were defined as priorities to be fast-tracked in the early stages of the initiative. These sectors include mining, petroleum, infrastructure and transport, and agriculture and integrated rural development. Representatives from key agencies and ministries were also convened under a national task force to provide data and information to be used in a process that would result in building a relevant macroeconomic model to assist in improved decision-making to accelerate Guyana’s transition to a Green Economy.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been identified as a facilitator during this process and co-heads the task force with the Department of Environment within the Office of the President.
“We are looking to complete a task that usually takes 18 months in six months,” said Director of the Ministry’s Multilateral and Global Affairs Department, Mr. Troy Torrington.
“The transition to the Green Economy itself is an input into the Green State Development Strategy. The strategy takes three dimensions into account, social, economic and environmental, but the transition to the Green Economy focusses on the economic dimension,” he explained.
Director of the Department of Environment, Ms. Ndibi Schwiers, notes that a Green Economy “affords us a unique opportunity to identify and implement measures that would add value to key sectors and aid in the diversification of the economy. This is vital for the economic development of the country. However, the benefits are more far-reaching as they extend to the development of all Guyanese thereby ensuring that they are able to benefit from the enormous wealth of the country and enjoy a good life for generations.”
In addition to assisting Guyana in development of the GSDS, the UN country team will also facilitate the capacity building of Guyanese, which according to Ambassador Ford is one of the highest priorities. He emphasised that “creating the human and institutional capacity now and for the future is essential to ensuring that the required comparative analysis across sectors, including recognizing the synergies and trade-offs between sectors is done. This capacity is a prerequisite to improved decision-making needed for the establishment of a Green Economy.” This is to be achieved through training that strengthens planning and evaluation units in Guyana, enabling them to be able to undertake the required analysis for efficient and effective policymaking.
A team is expected to visit Guyana shortly to work on economic forecasting, which will further guide the decision making of the government on the GSDS, identify possible early returns from the priority sectors identified to be fast-tracked and provide recommendations for investments in various sectors.
Moreover, next month Guyana will join a gathering of nations in Bonn, Germany for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) to further the goals of the Paris Agreement.