Brasília, Brazil – (March 19, 2018) President David Granger, today, issued a call at the Opening Ceremony of the 8th World Water Forum (WWF) for the introduction of further initiatives to protect freshwater resources, particularly the rivers of the Guiana Shield, which, he said, has an important role to play in ensuring global water security. The Head of State also outlined a three-point action aimed at enhancing a global commitment to continuous attention and unceasing action; to increased collaboration among states, especially neighbours, which share the waters of rivers and to improve conservation of water resources and the protection of the environment everywhere in order to maintain the integrity of the earth’s rivers and lakes.

Speaking at the Official Opening Ceremony of the Forum in Brasília, Brazil, President Granger said, “Guyana calls on this World Water Forum to take action to protect and preserve the Guiana Shield as a vital source of the world’s freshwater reserves. At stake is nothing less than humanity itself. Guyana, a small state, is part of the Guiana Shield, an area spread over 2.7 million square kilometres, making it bigger than Greenland. The ‘Shield’ is a zone, which encompasses parts of Brazil, Colombia and all of French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname and parts of Venezuela. The ‘Shield’, described as the “lungs of the Earth” and the “greenhouse of the world” is a global resource because of the environmental services it provides.”

He added that the Guiana Shield is vital to global water security because it contains 15 percent of the world’s freshwater resources. The rivers of the Guiana Shield discharge an average of 2,792 cubic kilometres of water annually, with one of the highest specific discharge rates for a zone of that size. However, water quality and environmental security are exacerbated due to the adverse effects of climate change such as droughts, flooding, rising sea levels and other extreme weather events.

“The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change has forecasted that climate change will result in reduced surface and ground water in most sub-tropical regions… The world’s freshwater supplies, unfortunately, are under threat. Water stress is increasing in many parts of the world. Aquifers are depleted faster than they are replenished. The growth of the world’s population will increase demand for water by 55 percent by the year 2050, placing even further strain on freshwater reserves…. Rivers must be protected from pollution, including that caused by environmental degradation and the discharge of effluent from industry, mining and agriculture. River pollution impacts adversely on water quality, on health and the economic and social well-being of citizens,” President Granger said.

The Head of State also explained that protection of the sources of the world’s freshwater sources is essential to ensuring citizens’ entitlement to water, communities’ access to safe and sanitary water and countries’ and the continent’s water security.

Meanwhile, in an invited comment, Head of the Department of Environment, Ms. Ndibi Schwiers, who is also attending the Forum, informed that World Water Day 2018, which will be observed on March 22 under the theme, “Nature for Water” will see the launching of the United Nations (UN) Decade of Action on Water. —PTO—

Guyana, she said, must seize the opportunity to develop water management policies under a single coordinating agency. “It is important for us to start looking at developing an integrated water resources management policy which is going to enable us to, once and for all, be more aware as to how we should manage our water resources. It is going to enable us to put proper policies in place to develop a more integrated approach to water management,” she said.

Ms. Schwiers further explained that in developing this integrated approach, it is imperative for Guyana to start looking at an evidence base system in managing its water resources; noting that while Guyana may be “the land of many waters”, steps must be taken to put measures in place to protect and conserve its water resources.

The WWF is the world’s largest water-related event, organised every three-years by the World Water Council (WWC), an international organisation an international multistakeholder platform organisation, whose mission is to mobilise action on critical water issues at all levels, including the highest decision-making level, by engaging people in debate and challenging conventional thinking.

The Forum provides a unique platform where the water community and key decision makers can collaborate and make long-term progress on global water challenges and Forum brings together participants from all levels and areas, including politics, multilateral institutions, academia, civil society and the private sector, among others.

The President is accompanied by Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Raphael Trotman, Director General in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Audrey Waddell and Guyana’s Ambassador to Brazil, Mr. George Talbot.

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