Georgetown, Guyana – (September 20, 2016) President David Granger, earlier today, said that Guyana is on the path to creating a global footprint in environmental sustainability as it pursues ‘green’ growth in a ‘green’ economy. The President made these remarks at the 71st Regular Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly currently underway at the UN Headquarters in New York.

The President said that Guyana is an integral part of the global ‘green’ movement to mitigate against the adverse impacts of climate change and global warming phenomena. “It is a state that will ensure a secure future for its people in the pursuit of a ‘green’ economy. It is one that is proud of it’s place as a reliable and cooperative partner in international efforts to protect the earth’s environment. Guyana recognises the interlocking objectives of the Agenda and the Agreement and realises that the establishment of a ‘green state’ is consistent with building climate resilience, while mitigating the effects of climate change. Guyana promises to continue to: work towards the Agenda’s goals, particularly, by contributing to limiting increases in global temperatures; and work towards a ‘green path’ of development that is in accord with the Agreement’s nationally-determined commitments,” he said.

Guyana is in a unique position as it stands at the centre of the Guiana Shield – one of the world’s last remaining spheres of virgin tropical rainforest, he said. The Guiana Shield spans an area of 2.7 million km², larger than Greenland, and is shared by six South American countries – Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, La Guyane, Suriname and Venezuela. The President said that Guyana, as a part of that Shield, is a net carbon sink with a green canopy of rainforest, which envelops more than 85 per cent of its land mass – the second highest percentage forest cover on earth.

With these advantages to its credit, he said, Guyana is therefore pursuing a ‘green path’ so as to better understand how to protect its precious biodiversity and manage its complex ecosystems, sustainably. “Guyana made a covenant with the world to be an exemplar of ‘green’ growth in 1989, three years before the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. We made a gift with the prospect of sustainable development and to a project to protect it’s environment through our generous grant of 371,000 hectares of our pristine forests to be used as an international model for: … research, training and the development of technologies. This will promote the conservation and the sustainable and equitable use of tropical rain forests in a manner that will lead to lasting ecological, economic and social benefits to the people of Guyana and the world in general. The Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development (IICRCD) – located in the centre of our country and at the heart of the Guiana Shield – survives and thrives as a testament of Guyana’s commitment to sustainable development and environmental conservation,” he said.

Further, evidence of Guyana’s role as an important partner in the global environmental movement can be seen in the agreements which have been brokered with the Kingdom of Norway, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Federal Republic of Germany, the State of Japan and other states and international organisations.

“Guyana reaffirms its commitment to Goal No. 15 of the Agenda under which UN member states pledged to “protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.”

Guyana is improving the management of its ecosystems and natural resources in order to conserve its forests and their rich biodiversity. It will fulfil its obligation contained in the ‘Intended Nationally Determined Commitments’ under the Paris Agreement. Guyana will deepen its research by establishing an International Institute of Biodiversity at the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development,” the Head of State said.

Even as Guyana is developing a comprehensive Emissions Reduction Programme (ERP) as part of its responsibility to contribute to global solutions to the threat of climate change and is setting aside an additional two million hectares for conservation purposes among other significant actions, President Granger informed the General Assembly that all Guyana’s efforts – nationally, regionally and globally – for the advancement of development in an environment of peace and stability are being challenged by the territorial ambitions of neighbouring Venezuela.

“Guyana celebrated the 50th anniversary of its Independence this year. Venezuela, regrettably, acknowledged this anniversary by reasserting its repudiation of a border treaty it had solemnly signed over 117 years ago and ratified and respected for 60 of those years. I addressed this Assembly last year and warned of the danger Venezuela posed to the peace and security of our region not by its internal instability but by its external assault on Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. I placed hope in the fact that the process for final resolution of Venezuela’s unworthy territorial claims rested now in the hands of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Venezuela, for a full year since I spoke, has stalled by every means as it intensified its aggression against Guyana and thwarted all of the Secretary-General’s efforts to pursue a way forward – at least in terms of a process that promises final resolution to the controversy,” he said.

The President noted that Guyana stands ready to have the International Court of Justice determine the matter with finality and will work resolutely with the Secretary-General, in his final months in office and his successor, to free Guyana from this surreal burden. President Granger told the General Assembly that the United Nations cannot be a dispassionate party to a threat to peace anywhere and a challenge to the law of nations, adding that Venezuela’s territorial claim is such a challenge.

“It strikes at the heart of the United Nations, its trusteeship of the law of nations and the Charter which the Secretary-General upholds. Venezuela’s claims… are a threat to our existence as an independent nation. They are a scandalous revival of the conquistadorial disease that once plagued its own history. They are a crime against our humanity, clothed in the verbiage of national honour….Guyana is on the path to becoming a ‘green’ state. Its efforts and those of other small states, however, can be derailed unless there is collective commitment by the greater part of the international community to collaborate with those states which are determined to pursue a low-carbon, low-emission path to sustainable development and to constraining the rise in global temperature…Venezuela’s aggression should not be allowed to threaten our children’s future,” President Granger said.

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