Georgetown, Guyana – (June 4, 2020) Tomorrow, June 5, Guyana joins approximately 143 countries around the world to observe World Environment Day.
This year’s observance is being held under the theme ‘Biodiversity’, under the umbrella slogan “Time for Nature”. The theme is in keeping with 2020 being designated the “Biodiversity super-year”.
World Environment Day is a celebration of nature. During these unprecedented times, there is a need for nature to be the focus of our attention, particularly since human activity has had and continues to have an adverse impact on the natural cycles of the earth. This is evident in the myriad environmental ills such as species extinction, coral bleaching and sea level rise.The global rates of decline in the health of ecosystems are unprecedented in human history, with overwhelming evidence pointing to land-use change, man-made climate change, pollution, among other things, being the leading causes of this decline(Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services).
Addressing these issues require a concerted global effort to rapidly restore and protect nature. Efforts must also include meaningful stakeholder engagement and collaboration at all levels. Cognizant of the need for global leadership, the Guyana Government has made several policy decisions to build partnerships to address these issues. This includes being a signatory to 26 Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), including the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the three Rio Conventions: the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD); and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
Guyana has been diligent in meeting its obligations under these agreements, ensuring multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration across government agencies as well as with the private sector, non-governmental organisations, civil societies and the public.
Guyana’s commitment to universal inclusion in safeguarding our natural resourcessaw it taking the lead, becoming the first country to sign the Escazú Agreement in 2018, which seeks to ensure citizen participation and justice in environmental matters.These international MEAs are being continuously monitored and mainstreamed in national policies and strategies, ensuring coherence withlocal efforts.
The 2012-2020 National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) is one such initiative, developed to guide Guyana’s adoption and implementation of the UNCBD.Work has already commenced on the drafting of a new Strategy and Action Plan, ensuring there is no gap in implementation as the current NBSAP ends this year.
This dedication toprotect our local biodiversity is also demonstrated in Guyana’s firm involvement in the development of a legal framework to protect marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Additional actions for biodiversity protection include a four-year partnership between the Department of Environment - Ministry of the Presidency and the United Nations Development Project to execute the Strengthening Technical Capabilities to Mainstream and Monitor Rio Convention Implementation through Policy Coordination (RioMainstreaming Project). This projectaims to build the capacity of agencies and individuals responsible for implementing the UNFCCC, UNCBD and the UNCCD.
The project further recognizes the need to equip stakeholders at all levels, including Local Government Authority, teachers and Indigenous peoples, with the skills required to participate in the implementation of these 3 MEAs, helping the country achieve the preservation of our natural resources.
The development of all local strategies and projects intended to conserve biodiversity will be further guided and informed by the Green State Development Strategy: Vision 2040 (Vision 2040). This strategy will guide the adoptionof a holistic approach to development over the next 20 years, along a low carbon trajectory. Vision 2040 was created to support three key areas: Managing Natural Resources Wealth, Supporting Economic Resilience and Building Human Capital.These messages are interdependent and the success of all is pivotal to the achievement of a green economy.
As we continue to celebrate biodiversity for World Environment Day, the Department of Environment wishes to remind all Guyanese that every voice is important. In keeping with this, the Department, in partnership with Conservation International – Guyana, World Wildlife Fund – Guianas and the Iwokrama International Centre for Rain Forest Conservation and Developmentis hosting a webinar at 18:00 hours as part of the Day’s observances. The webinar is themed: “From Mountains to Mangroves: The Importance of Biodiversity to Guyana’s Future”.
To participate in the webinar, please register here: https://wwf.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_BEtz7QgNhXpuR5LH2A