Georgetown, Guyana – (March 15, 2018) Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, who holds responsibility for the Department of the Environment (DoE), today, said that the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS) is not just another document, but rather, it is the vision and the expression of the ambition of the people of Guyana for a prosperous future in a sustainable environment.

Minister Harmon was at the time addressing the ‘Aligning the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Green State Development Strategy Workshop on Multidimensional Approaches for the 2030 Agenda’, which opened this morning at the Marriott Hotel. In the pursuit of a finalised, all-inclusive GSDS, the Government had requested support from the United Nation’s Development System for the integration of the SDGs within the GSDS. The 2030 agenda references the SDGs, which is a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

In his remarks, Minister Harmon said that the workshop is another important step in Guyana’s quest to establish a ‘green’ economy and a ‘green’ state as well as the country’s resolve to be meaningfully involved as a significant contributor to the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development including the SDGs. The theme, he noted, is therefore appropriate as it addresses matters that are crucial to the development of Guyana and encapsulates the Government’s vision.

“Guyana on the basis of our geographic location and resources has an obligation, which we acknowledge and a commitment that we have made to be meaningfully involved, if not, to take the lead role in this development. The Green State Development Strategy to us is not just a document. It is the expression of the vision and the ambition of the people of Guyana for a prosperous future, which benefits all of its people. We aspire to become a green, inclusive, and prosperous Guyana that provides a good quality of life for all of our citizens, that provides sound education, social protection, ‘green’ and decent jobs, economic opportunities, individual equality, justice and political empowerment. Guyana aspires to transition into a decarbonised and resource efficient economy that values and integrates the multi-ethnicity of our country and enhances the quality of life for all Guyanese. Guyana’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda is unequivocal,” he said.

The Government, he said, considers the alignment of the United Nation’s SDGs with the GSDS as a crucial policy area. However, the State Minister said that Guyana must also face head on the challenge of moving beyond just mapping the SDGs. “The principle of integrality calls for balancing the three dimensions of sustainable development; social cohesion, economic growth and environmental potential. The challenge that we face is to move beyond mapping the SDGs and target its reflection in the GSDS. It is to move toward incorporating these new principles in the real plan and implement that strategy as our country’s development programme as well as ensure that the mechanisms are established to monitor and evaluate that process while at the same time utilising unique, clean Guyanese content,” Minister Harmon said.

Noting that the contribution of every stakeholder is vital for the successful implementation of the GSDS, Minister Harmon said that the challenge now is to guide the GSDS in a way that is in the spirit of the Agenda 2030, while taking into account the multiple development challenges Guyana faces and the need to institutional strong and effective cross-sectoral coordination.

“There must also be a recognition that we will be breaking new ground and would be sometimes sailing in unchartered waters. The successful way, therefore, has to be uniquely Guyanese taking into account our peculiar circumstances. We must own the process and own our Green State Development Strategy,” he said.

Meanwhile, Head of the DoE, Ms. Ndibi Schwiers, in an invited comment said that goal of the workshop is to train participants on multidimensional approaches to mainstream the 2030 Agenda, including the use and application of three important tools; theory of change, systems thinking and the identification of accelerators to prioritise policy interventions with a bigger impact.

Noting that the GSDS is currently under elaboration with an expected completion deadline of July 2018, Ms. Schwiers said that the initial timeline has been extended to allow for large-scale consultations to ensure that the document is truly reflective of all stakeholders in the Guyanese society. This consultation process, she said, is unprecedented.

Deputy Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Ms. Shabnam Mallick, in brief comments, said that the organisation stands ready to lend its support to Guyana as it embarks on its ‘green’ journey. “This workshop is part of a longer process, where we stand ready, the UNDP and its sister agencies, to support the journey to the achievement of the SDGs,” she said.

The two-day workshop is a collaborative effort between the Department of the Environment, Ministry of the Presidency and the Ministry of Finance, along with the Technical support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

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