Georgetown, Guyana – (October 22, 2016) President David Granger, yesterday, wrapped up his final day of participation at the Conservation International (CI) Annual Board Meeting in Washington D.C., with a presentation, during a session for contributions from attending current and former Heads of State. The President emphasised the message of a holistic approach to environmental management that is couched in science based public policy, education for affected populations and regional and international cooperation to ensure effective outcomes.
Noting that there had been a tendency to focus only on climate change, President Granger told the Board that part of the take away from his participation in the meeting is that Guyana’s comprehensive approach to tackling the complexities of environmental management and protection falls in line with international best practice.
“[Guyana has taken] a comprehensive approach dealing with our land forms, the various land forms, our coastal zone, our rivers, our wetlands, our savannahs, our protected areas, our diverse biodiversity, our wildlife, climate change and human settlement. When we speak of the green state, it’s a holistic concept. It’s not just a matter of climate change or Low Carbon Development Strategy; it is all embracing,” the President said.
Identifying public buy-in to the concept of a ‘Green’ state, the President said that education is key and noted that this is an area where CI can continue to provide support to Guyana. “We need to have a high level of buy-in by the populations themselves… We are talking about the impact of human behaviour on the environment. We should not ignore the importance of actually educating them to help them understand the impact of their own attitude, their own conduct and behaviour on the environment,” he said, adding that while the primary aim is earning an income to satisfy basic needs, Guyanese must be taught how the country’s bio-diversity can be of value of to them in that regard.
President Granger said, “We must be able to get them on board, to understand the need for practicing the same types of techniques that we are speaking about whether it is about fishing, whether it is about logging, whether it is about mining… Where people used primitive gold-mining equipment, they are now using …dredges, which destroy the banks, pollute the rivers and where they used they are now using sawmills. Time does not stand still and we need to educate, educate, educate so that people can get the best practices, safe practices so when we talk about conservation, we are not just keeping it at an academic level, we are also ensuring that the farmers, the Indigenous peoples, ordinary miners, foreigners, who come over [from neighbouring states] and bring their practices into Guyana… We need to ensure that education permeates all levels of society.”
I addition, he noted that the formulation and implementation of public policy, in this regard, must be informed by strong scientific research. “We are talking about the impact of this concept of a ‘green’ state on public policy and we feel that there must be some way of measuring the impact on the environment in terms of our ability to solve human problems because in the final analysis we are talking about the quality of people’s lives,” President Granger said.
Re-emphasising the importance to cooperation among the States that make up the Guiana Shield, the President told the Board that Guyana will continue advocate for this. He further added that even at a national level there must be across the board collaboration to ensure the protection of the environment. He said, “We are looking at partnerships with our neighbours, partnerships within Guyanese society, with civil society and with international players.”
Following the meeting, President Granger said that Guyana’s participation was beneficial. “The important thing is that we were able to put on the table is our concept of a green state. We were able to get from them some indication of their willingness to continue to participate, because they have been in Guyana for a while, for several years and I got the assurance that we will continue to be able to rely on that partnership. My interaction with other countries particularly with the President of Botswana, Mr. Ian Khama, I think gave us some indication of the benefit of partnerships, international partnerships, global partnerships.
President Khama, former President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson of Iceland and former President Anote Tong of Kiribati also made presentations at the session.