Georgetown, Guyana – (September 19, 2017) President David Granger said that a broader platform is needed to effectively provide protection and relief to Caribbean States that are vulnerable to natural disasters. He noted that urgent efforts must be made to strengthen the capabilities of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the regional mechanism that deals with disaster preparedness and response. “The Caribbean has to go to the drawing board again. We have got to create a more effective platform maybe in terms of architecture, in terms of response, in terms of measures to provide relief to our citizens…Guyana has a wide diaspora but have to look at the logistical capabilities of the Caribbean Community,” he said. The Head of State made these points during a meeting with Commonwealth Secretary General, The RT. Hon. Patricia Scotland at the United Nations Headquarters today.

Speaking to the Guyanese media corps after that meeting, the Head of State said that, “It is quite clear that climate change is not something we could ignore… I have more or less put it to the Secretary General of the Commonwealth that next year when we meet in London at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting we have to put climate change and the issue of protection of and relief to Caribbean Commonwealth States on the agenda. We already have a mechanism, the CDEMA and we have to broaden CDEMA because what is happening now is that several countries are being adversely affected at the same time,” President Granger explained.

He said that with several Anglophone Caribbean states being devastated simultaneously by hurricanes, a more comprehensive plan is needed to address the issue of evacuation; noting that people cannot be moved from one affected country to the next. Moreover, he emphasised that efforts at mitigation must be intensified. “We got to think about how we are going to prevent climate change at the global scale from affecting the Small Island Developing States [SIDS] and also the low-lying coastal states because countries like Belize, Suriname and Guyana can also be affected by global warming and rising sea levels. Even though we do not get hurricanes, we are going to see rising sea levels which will jeopardise our sea defences,” President Granger said.

With Guyana being the largest Caribbean state, President Granger said that the country can play a key role in terms of using its vast land space to offer citizens of affected Caribbean territories a chance of a better life in the wake of recent climatic disasters. Additionally, with Guyana transitioning to a ‘green state’ and its commitment to preserving its forests, it is providing an important service to the world.

“We are leaders in environmental security and we have to emphasise that all states of the world must try to preserve their biodiversity, protect their forests and mitigate or prevent the situation in which greenhouse gases tend to contribute to global warming. So we have got to look at green technology and environmental measures…So that gradually, global warming could be brought under control and eventually the tendency for the earth to get warm will be slowed. Guyana is very important to the environmental future and this is the main issue I raised with the Commonwealth Secretary General,” the President disclosed.

President Granger also informed the media that the issue of the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy was also raised with Secretary General Scotland; noting that Guyana needs the assurance that Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. António Guterres will abide by the commitment that was made by former Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon to refer this matter to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) if an agreement is not reached by December 2017.

“The present Secretary General, António Guterres has appointed the person, Mr. [Dag] Nylander who has been working between the capitals of Caracas and Georgetown and of course reporting back to the Secretary General. Here in New York, I am looking forward to meeting with Secretary General Mr. Gutteres to get an update on the work of Mr. Nylander and also to get the Secretary General’s view on how the legacy or testament of Mr. Ban ki-Moon can be actually implemented. I raised this matter with the Secretary General of the Commonwealth because over the last 50 years the Commonwealth has given its support on that territorial matter,” President Granger said.

President Granger, who is currently attending the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is slated to address World Leaders tomorrow. He is listed as the fifth speaker on the agenda.

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