Georgetown, Guyana – (June 7, 2018) President David Granger was, today, paid a courtesy call by Mr. David Lammy, a Member of Parliament (MP) from the United Kingdom (UK) of Guyanese parentage and Mr. Mark Ferguson, an investor and board member of Conservation International (CI). The two officials are currently in Guyana to meet with Heads of Government agencies and members of the business community to explore potential areas for investment.
During the meeting at State House, President Granger spoke at length of the country’s ‘green’ agenda; noting that Guyana’s commitment to environmental protection is long-standing and consistent. He also informed the visiting officials that locally, there is a greater sense of ownership of the environment and the message of what the ‘green’ state means for Guyana, is gaining momentum across the 10 administrative regions. The President noted, however, that there is still much more work to be done, particularly as it relates to solid waste management.
President Granger also spoke of his vision for Iwokrama, in terms of making it a hub for biodiversity research and studies. He also noted that the centre can be the means through which greater global awareness can be raised regarding the importance of the Guiana Shield. “The world is not aware of what an asset the Guiana Shield is… Guyana can take the lead by creating the Centre of Excellence, which would serve as a hub,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ferguson, the CI official, described the Government as very enlightened, owing to the fact that even though the country is on the verge of transformation with petroleum, there is still a strong commitment to safeguarding its natural environment at a time when there is growing recognition in the world of the value of nature.
Following his meeting with the President, Mr. Lammy met with Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon to discuss potential areas through which CI can serve Guyana’s ‘green’ and sustainable agenda. Minister Harmon commented on Guyana’s beneficial relationship with the organization. “CI has been good to us… The level of representation from CI and the focus, which [CI] has on Guyana is extremely important to us… We’re extremely fortunate and we’re extremely happy to receive the advice that we are getting from the CI,” he said.
The State Minister also expressed his desire for the population to know and understand the importance of conservation and CI’s role in preserving Guyana. “The efforts at conservation in the past have been on… 80 percent of the land west of the Essequibo… 80 percent of the people are on this 20 percent and they could not fully appreciate [the need] to… focus on conservation… and seeing no benefit from it… It was… always a challenge convincing the bulk of our population that Guyana needed to conserve… It is not just about locking off natural resources, but dealing with it in such a manner that it can be preserved, not only for this generation, but for generations to come and that it will benefit us in the way we will and our lifestyles,” he said.
Minister Harmon also stressed the importance of protecting Guyana’s flora and fauna and their habitats. “The President is very big on ‘the Giants of El Dorado’… [Guyana] represents the only place in the world where these animals can be found. So, we need to ensure that our conservation activity protects and preserves the environment in which these ‘giants’ operate,” he said.
Mr. Lammy made sure to express his interest in seeing Guyana continue to make strides toward achieving its ‘green’ agenda while balancing the emergence of the oil and gas sector. Vice President of CI-Guyana, Dr. David Singh and Head of the Department of Environment, Ms. Ndibi Schwiers were also present at the meeting.