Georgetown, Guyana – (February 8, 2018) As Guyana prepares to host the 17th Session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC17) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in January 2019, the first such meeting to be held in the region, Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, today, charged the National Planning Committee to put their best foot forward to ensure that the Conference is not just successful but also establishes Guyana as a major player in the fight against the effects of drought and deforestation.

Minister Harmon, who has responsibility for the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC), which is the chief organising agency, told the members of the planning Committee at its inaugural meeting in the GLSC Boardroom that Guyana’s hosting of the event is indicative of the Government’s commitment to the preservation of the natural patrimony. “The Government of Guyana is, therefore, pleased to be associated with the work of the UNCCD, the Conference of Parties and the hosting of CRIC17. Our involvement in the work of these agencies underscores our commitment to the protection of the environment and sustainable land management globally and also to the establishment of a ‘green’ path of development and a ‘green’ economy in Guyana. We are, therefore, committed to providing as much support as possible in the circumstances to ensure the success of CRIC17,” he said.

The State Minister also said that for any event to be successful, proper planning must be done and that Guyana has been chosen to host the event, the first of its kind in the region, is testimony to the development that is taking place within the country.

“I believe that the function of planning is so critical that if we do not get it right from the start, the result you see at the end will bear a clear connection to poor planning or good planning. So what you get out is basically what you would have put in. The hosting by Guyana will be a culmination of greater involvement in the work of the UNCCD. Since the inception of Guyana’s involvement in the work of the UNCCD, we have been attending meetings of its Conference of Parties (COP). CRIC 17 will, therefore, be an important step for Guyana in our efforts to contribute meaningfully to the work of the UNCCD and in assisting the Conference of the Parties in the performance review and assessment of implementation of the decisions of the Convention as the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management,” he said.

At COP13 in Inner Mongolia, China in September 2017, Guyana’s involvement was deepened when as a result of the progress made on the voluntary implementation of the Land Degradation Neutrality Target Setting Project it was selected to be one of four country presenters at that meeting. Guyana presented the report on a major draft decision on capacity building to ensure the efficacious implementation of UNCCD on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the country’s representative became the first one from the Caribbean to be elected as a Vice-President of the Bureau of the COP to represent the 33 countries that make up the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries (GRULAC).

These achievements, Minister Harmon said, are indicative of a country that is going places with its development and making a positive impression on the world.

Meanwhile, Director of the Multilateral and Global Affairs Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Troy Torrington, in brief remarks, said that Guyana’s hosting of this Conference is a significant milestone as the country continues to rely on multilateralism and diplomacy as its first line of defence. The hosting of this Conference, he said, therefore would allow Guyana to fortify its relations with the various countries.

“In fact for Guyana, it goes beyond mere reliance. It is essentially the first line and sometimes only line in terms of defence and the basis for development. The hosting of CRIC17 falls very squarely in line with our reliance on multilateralism as a form of influence multiplier. Guyana has consistently punched above its weight in multilateral fora and CRIC17 certainly provides an opportunity to continue to do so. CRIC17 is also linked to efforts to develop Guyana in particular the articulation of the ‘Green’ State Development Strategy. The hosting of CRIC17 allows us to make a credible and important contribution to the resolution of major global issues and in this regard, climate change comes to mind,” he said.

Chief Executive Officer of the GLSC, Mr. Trevor Benn, said that the National Planning Committee brings together a number of professionals from numerous Government agencies and Ministries, who can all provide input to ensure that the event is a successful one. “This is the first time that we are hosting such a United Nations Conference in Guyana or the Caribbean as a matter of fact and so we thought it best to bring together these stakeholders from the different agencies who have experience in this field to meet and support in the planning in this event,” he said.

Resident Coordinator, Ms. Mikiko Tanaka and Deputy Resident Representative, Ms. Shabnam Mallick of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as well as representatives from the Ministry of the Presidency, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Citizenship, the Ministry of Public Telecommunications, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Guyana Tourism Authority, University of Guyana and the CARICOM Secretariat, were also present.

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