President David Granger: Your Excellency Mr. Jernej Videtic and Mrs. Videtic; His Excellency Mr. Michel Prom; members of the Diplomatic Corps; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen, Happy Christmas.
The Cooperative Republic of Guyana asserts that action to combat the adverse effects of climate change must become a central pillar of its partnership with the European Union. The Paris Agreement, which committed parties to taking urgent action and to pursuing the widest possible cooperation to limit the increase in global temperature to well below two degrees centigrade, above pre-industrial levels, is a historic international landmark.
The United Nations 2013 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which preceded the Paris Agreement, similarly, is transformative on a global scale. The Agenda and the Agreement are both central to the partnership between the European Union and Guyana.
I attended the 22nd Meeting of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change a few weeks ago in Marrakesh, Morocco and I called for climate financing for the adaptation for Small Island Developing States and low-lying coastal states. I urged them that financing for adaptation be based not merely on economic indicators such as GDP but more particularly, on vulnerabilities of small states.
I urge international partnerships also to limit global temperature increases and to help small states to meet their respective national determined contributions. The Caribbean, an archipelago of small island developing states and low-lying coastal states, is threatened by climate-induced threats, these include droughts and floods, hurricanes, land-erosion, rising sea levels and disruptive weather patterns.
Guyana is a victim of climate change. Its low-lying coastland where the majority of its population lives is susceptible to droughts and floods, which can have devastating consequences for the country’s agriculture. It is vulnerable also to overtopping of its river defences and to land erosion and degradation, which can destroy infrastructure and damage arable lands.
Guyana however, is also part of the solution to climate change. Guyana, a small state, plays a big role in mitigating the effects of greenhouse gas emissions. Guyana’s forests cover more than 85 per cent of its territory and provide critical environmental and ecological services to humanity. Guyana is part of the Guiana Shield; one of the world’s last remaining blocs of pristine rainforest.
Guyana helps the world to breathe; it is part of the lungs of the earth. Guyana will devote an additional two million hectares of its forests to conservation, as part of the global thrust to arrest climate change.
Guyana is pursuing a low-carbon, low-emission green trajectory of economic development. Guyana will become a ‘green’ state. Cooperation with Guyana is a global good. Europe and Guyana have had a long-standing development partnership, which began with the signing of the LOME Convention in 1975- a consequence of the Georgetown Accord which of course had its origin right here in Georgetown.
This partnership has continued under successive LOME Conventions and later the COTONOU Agreement and the Framework Economic Partnership Agreement between the CARIFORUM States and the European Community. The Guyana-European Union partnership has remained relevant, resilient and responsive to the changing threats for over four decades.
Guyana is grateful for the support it has received from the European Union and expects further fruitful cooperation in the future; especially, climate adaptation. Climate adaptation is necessary to build greater resilience against the effects of climate change. Adaptation however, is costly and the country requires a level of financing which is beyond its slender resources.
Climate financing in the context of the potential disruption to national development by climate change must be viewed as an integral element of development financing. Guyana needs to forge partnerships in support of climate financing in three main areas:
• Coastal zone management which must be improved, and sea defences must be repaired and rebuilt to protect the low-lying coastland against rising sea levels;
• Drainage systems must be redesigned and water storage and supply systems must be expanded to prevent flooding in times of high levels of rainfall and to store fresh water in times of need;
• Hydrometeorological services must be modernised to improve weather forecasting in order to contribute to protecting our settlements and our farms.
The European Union could be proud of its record of providing developmental assistance for adaptation purposes; assistance under the Eighth and Ninth European Development Fund (EDF) Projects placed emphasis on sea-defence systems and their management. This focus was retained in the Tenth EDF. The Eleventh EDF National Indicative Programme 2014 to 2020 also gives priority to integrated coastal zone management.
Guyana welcomes the support. Guyana is keen to deepen the partnership with the European Union in light of the gravity of the threat posed by climate change.
Guyana believes that together we can develop an international partnership model that the rest of the world could emulate.
I thank you.

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