Marrakesh, Morocco – (November 17, 2016) President David Granger said today, following a meeting with the Executive Director of the United Nations Environmental Programme, Mr. Erik Solheim that the engagement has served to intensify the agency’s relationship with Guyana and concretises the commitments have already been made.
Mr. Solheim, who is well known for having signed the Norway-Guyana Agreement on the banks of the Essequibo River when he was Norwegian Minister of International Development and the Environment, met with the President in the margins of the 22nd Session of the Conference of Parties (COP22) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in the COP22 Village and expressed his support for Guyana’s ‘green’ state development agenda.
Following the meeting, President David Granger, in an invited comment, said that he looks forward to receiving support for capacity building for the setting up of the structure of Guyana’s Department of the Environment, so that it can effectively advance Guyana’s push towards becoming a ‘green’ state. “The meeting comes at a time when Guyana’s Department of the Environment has gotten started. We know that we have certain agencies and commissions: the Wildlife Authority, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Climate Change, the Protected Area Systems, all of these have to be brought together. So we want to make sure that there is not only a coherent policy but also a cohesive structure,” he said.
The Head of State added that he is pleased with the meeting because it builds upon prior commitments made by UNEP to Guyana. He added that Guyana must partner with international agencies that can provide the expertise and mobilise financing to ensure the success of its ‘green’ development programme. In this regard, President Granger welcomed Mr. Solheim’s engagement in the process.
“Although he has a long relationship with Guyana, he is speaking today as an international civil servant and member of the United Nations, so he was very supportive of Guyana’s commitment to the ‘green’ state and he is very supportive of efforts to give Guyana the type of assistance needed in those two areas; the architecture and the policy areas. It was a very important meeting. The engagement started before today. We have been able to benefit from UNEP and I would say the meeting today intensified that relationship and concretised the commitments that were given previously by the [that agency] to Guyana,” he said.
Guyana has an ambitious goal of realising its status of a ‘green’ state by 2025, and President Granger has been advocating for international support in order to achieve this. He, however, admitted that a significant amount of support is needed from international players as well as local buy-in in the short, medium and long term.
The President said, “There is a general strategy that eventually, maybe by 2025, that Guyana could actually claim to be a green state but we are working towards that goal. There are many areas that require attention and I would say in the short term the important thing is for us to have a framework so we know what are the ramifications; what financing is needed, what structures have to be put in place and thereafter we can start looking at research and education and legislation and the other aspects of developing this green state. So in the short term we want to have a framework so we are all singing from the same song sheet. The new Department of the Environment containing climate change and protected areas and everything else will be reading from one page, so to speak. So today’s meeting with Mr. Solheim was a reaffirmation of United Nations’ support for Guyana’s green state.”