Georgetown, Guyana – (March 12, 2018) Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Carl Greenidge, who is also performing the duties of President, this evening, said that educating, motivating and encouraging youths can help them to develop innovative solutions, which can mitigate the effects of climate change and global warming, particularly for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) even as he noted that The Commonwealth can play a great role in helping its members states to achieve a sustainable future.

The Minister was at the time addressing a forum at the Umana Yana, which was organised by the Parliament of Guyana in observance of Commonwealth Day 2018, which was observed today, under the theme, “Towards a common future.” As part of the event, the Parliament’s office planned an “Exhibition of Innovative Projects to inculcate attitudes to protect the environment and combat climate change,” which saw schools from all 10 Administrative Regions showcasing technology and science-based projects, which provide solutions for combating climate change and environmental issues.

Noting that he was impressed with the projects, which were on display; ranging from the use of solar energy, wind energy, recycling processes for waste products to transform them into impressive art creations, the use of air pollutants to make ink, among others; Mr. Greenidge said that the key to solutions to mitigate the effects of the fast growing threat is to put the youths at the fore front.

“You can’t, of course, protect yourself from everything but the main protection has to do with us putting in place the institutions, the organisations and educational systems that enable us to make reasonable decisions about the challenges that face us. But perhaps even more importantly, it is important that our young people see that we are a reflective and organised people in… confronting the future… In that education, I’m saying to you that we must share with them and ensure that we imbue them a systematic and fearless approach to the future. Whether it is new resources or it is the challenges that climate change pose, it is important that we approach our answers to these challenges in a critical but a logical and rational manner,” he said.

Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, in his remarks, said that the theme for this year’s observance is very timely and relevant given the unprecedented challenges that all nations face individually and collectively as well the numerous opportunities that are available for individual and collective sustainable development if they can continue to work together. Noting that the Commonwealth is one of the world’s oldest political associations of states with a unique family of 53 nations across the planet and a population of more than 2.2 billion, Minister Harmon said that the body can contribute to the global efforts to address these challenges to the benefit of its members as well as that of the wider international community.

“The Commonwealth remains at the forefront of policy research and global advocacy to assist small states to build resilience, access financing, alleviate debt burdens and devise measures to respond to natural disasters and the impacts of climate change. We have and we can continue to achieve more as a collective than as individual states and, therefore, as a proud Commonwealth nation, Guyana will continue to play an active role in promoting the core values of the Commonwealth and contribute in finding innovative solutions to the challenges confronting us as individual nations as well as the wider international community. We will also continue to contribute meaningfully to the initiatives and programmes of the Commonwealth,” he said.

The Minister of State also noted that the while the Government of Guyana will continue to play its role, it is equally important that citizens take individual responsibility to mitigate the effects of climate change and environmental degradation.

Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Barton Scotland said that the Commonwealth Day is a very important one in the calendar of events for Parliament Office and plans a series of activities to commemorate the day. He noted that based on the projects exhibited at the event, it is clear that the fight against climate change is in good and capable hands.

“I would like to express gratitude to the schools which have responded to the invitations. The teachers, who would’ve laboured long and hard, and the students who demonstrated such keenness, alertness, and clarity when they explained the particular project with which they were concerned. What struck me was the with the exhibits I’d been able to look at is that they speak of concerns which we have now, which is a very good thing and many of the exhibits speak of concerns in their respective villages, their respective communities and that too is interesting and quite promising for our future. I’d like to congratulate all the schools. I think it’d be true to say that all are winners,” he said.

British High Commissioner to Guyana, Mr. Greg Quinn noted that the Commonwealth has deep roots and profound strengths and members must use those strengths to face the challenges that exist around including global trade, climate change, security, democracy, good governance and inclusivity. “We expect much focus at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to be on delivering in the following areas: a more prosperous future, a more secure future, a more sustainable future and that is building the resilience of small and vulnerable states to deal with the effects of climate change and other global crises and a fairer future,” he noted.

Ms. Lilian Chatterjee, Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, said that climate change is one of the greatest common challenges facing the modern world and a threat to the planet’s very existence. For many countries in the Commonwealth family, climate change presents an existential threat, she noted. “This is clear to the millions of people who live on vulnerable coasts and in low lying islands across the world. In recent years, we have seen an increase in extreme weather patterns with more floods and sea defences coming under intense pressure. Our future depends upon how we navigate our way through this and how we build global resilience to face it. Canada is a committed global partner on climate change… We have to draw upon our collective resolve to be unified in our approach to co change, fortify resilience and advocate for the cause of small and vulnerable states globally,” High Commissioner Chatterjee said.

Mr. Dillion Charles, Environmental Officer of the Environmental protection Agency (EPA) noted the Agency has recognised that education plays a vital role in the fight against climate change and has been training teachers, both pre-service and in-service to infuse the concepts of environmental education into existing school curricula using creativity and innovation.

“To the young people here this afternoon your role is clear and important now more than ever. Development without your inclusion in all levels of the decision process would only be a fallacy. Use your time to have fun but also use your time to make a change, use your time to influence national policy, use your time to make a positive decision,” he said.

Ms. Khamila Ramotar, Climate Change Officer at the Office of Climate Change, said that moving towards a common future also requires every stakeholder to meet head on, the challenges posed by climate change, arguably one of the greatest crises of our time. Noting that the greenhouse gases, which cause climate change are not restricted to the jurisdiction in which they are emitted, she said that the consequence of this is that climate change affects all, but places a disproportionate burden on small, developing countries like Guyana who have contributed least to the problem.

“As Guyanese, we face a significant challenge in planning for a climate-resilient future where we must increase our drainage capacity while simultaneously ensuring that we increase our capacities to store water. We must ensure that our shoreline intervention and shoreline management techniques are enhanced and we must put in place measures to ensure that human and agricultural systems in particular, can cope with the increasing temperatures. In light of these circumstances, moving towards a common future requires concerted and active participation of all citizens. The Office of Climate Change recognises the importance of building stakeholders’ awareness of these challenges,” Ms. Ramotar noted.

Chief Whip of the Parliament Opposition, Ms. Gail Teixeira, in her remarks, said that climate change is one issue that every person can agree on and stand together as one and every effort should be made to protect this planet we inhabit. In this regard, she noted that Guyana has made significant progress and has been leading by example and the Opposition it prepared to work with the Government on this.

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