Georgetown, Guyana – (October 16, 2019) Minister of State, Mrs. Dawn Hastings-Williams, this morning, said all stakeholders must work alongside Government to ensure that the environment is protected in keeping with the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS).
The Minister, made these statements during the final stakeholder’s National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP) workshop, which was organized by the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) and held at the Herdmanston Lodge, Queenstown, Georgetown.
The workshop was aimed at finalizing and providing stakeholders with an in-depth understanding of the NOSCP and the requirements, policies and procedures for its implementation.
Minister Hastings-Williams, who has responsibility for the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), emphasized that stakeholders play a vital role in the protection of the environment and that this is not only the business of the Government of Guyana, but of the entire world. Against this backdrop, she said that the input of international partners, members of civil society and all other stakeholders is critical to the development of the NOSCP.
“I urge you not to underestimate the task at hand, it is of utmost national priority. Your Government is extremely aware of this and has consistently left no stone unturned in matters of this nature. As evidenced by today’s activity, we will continue to work assiduously to ensure we address these issues. This Government accepts that we do not have a monopoly on ideas, hence, we are not hesitant to consult and have ongoing discussions with stakeholders. You will observe that a key part of today’s agenda includes ‘consensus’ and ‘next steps’. This is indicative of the Government’s position on matters of this national consequence,” she said.
The State Minister also applauded the work of the CDC and the stakeholders for the work done thus far.
Additionally, CDC Director General, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig, in brief remarks, thanked the stakeholders for their input and said that the plan should be tailored to fit Guyana’s circumstances. He stated that it is a “living document” which will be updated annually and enforced by the relevant agencies.
“We (CDC) are hoping that we have a robust and user-friendly plan that can be implemented in the shortest possible time…It is a plan that has been developed by Guyanese and one that will be implemented by Guyanese to ensure that in the event of an oil spill we will respond as one unit to reduce the impact,” he said.
The Director-General also noted that the plan was initiated in 2017, when an outline of the roles and responsibilities was created by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) in collaboration with the United States Coast Guard and RAC/REMPEITC- Caribe. The first draft of the plan was developed in 2018 by CDC and the Maritime Administration Department following consultations with stakeholders. A working group was subsequently established to work on the final stages of the plan.
The NOSCP plan is designed to satisfy the requirements under domestic legislation and policies, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) and the International Convention on Oil Spill Preparedness, Response and Cooperation (OPRC).
The CDC plans to finalize the NOSCP by the November this year, following which it will be submitted to Cabinet for approval.
The Guyana Energy Agency, Protected Areas Commission, Guyana Marine Conservation Society, Guyana Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission, MARAD, Guyana Defence Force, the Guyana Coast Guard, Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, Aircraft Owners’ Association, Guyana Red Cross Society, RAC/REMPEITC- Caribe, Tullow Oil, Exxon Mobil, Repsol, a number of other Government agencies and civil society were represented at the workshop.