In 2015, President Granger boldly proclaimed Guyana’s economic vision for the future. In his first address to the United Nations General Assembly, President Granger stated: “We see a ‘Green Economy’ as one that sustains economic prosperity, environmental security and social well-being.”
Although Guyana will become an oil producer in 2020, Guyana’s true comparative advantage is in its incredible patrimony. Guyana grows over 200 fruits and vegetables, arable land, no hurricanes and an abundance of sunshine. Guyana has been blessed with an overabundance of “jewels”. We are a land of many waters, including the majestic Kaieteur Falls. We have breath-taking flora and fauna beyond our wildest imagination. We are a birdwatcher’s paradise with over 700 birds. We have the mighty Jaguar, the noble Eagle and the resplendent plumage of the Macaw. We have approximately 18 million hectares of pristine forests and are one of a few countries that constitute the “Lungs of the Earth.” We are among the highest forest coverage in the world.
Many have called Guyana the “Kingdom of Nature and the Land of Enchantment.” Yet, our greatest wealth lies in our people and our diverse cultures: Amerindian, European, African, Indian, Portuguese, Chinese and Mixed. Within this canopy of wealth, the greatest jewels are our youth.
Guyana is also a central part of the Guiana Shield along with Suriname, French Guiana, Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela. The Guiana Shield is one of the richest regions of biodiversity in the world.
History is repeating itself as Guyana seeks to again become a Green State, even amidst its enormous mineral wealth of oil, gold (the famous El Dorado), diamonds, manganese, and other ores.
Today, Guyana’s quest to become the world’s first green economy is being developed by the Department of the Environment and seven expert thematic groups comprised of Guyanese private sector organizations , non-governmental organizations and government ministries with technical support from five United Nations agencies under the umbrella of the Partnership for Action on a Green
Economy (PAGE) led by UN Environment and including the International Labour Organization (ILO); UN Development Programme, UN Industrial Development Organization and the UN Institute for Training and Research.
Guyana has been pursuing a low carbon development path for some time now. This process began with President Hugh Desmond Hoyte creating the Iwokrama Rainforest project in 1989 which set aside 371,000 hectares of pristine forests for research and development, enabling the lasting ecological, economic and social benefits to the people of Guyana and the wider world. This was followed by the Protected Areas Initiative in 1991.
In 2006, President Bharrat Jagdeo created the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) with the assistance of McKinsey and Company to continue the development of Guyana along a low carbon pathway to development. This focus was on preventing deforestation and an agreement with the Kingdom of Norway.
Guyana’s current Green State Development Strategy (GSDS), which is President David Granger’s vision of the world’s first green economy, builds on Guyana’s Iwokrama Rainforest Project, the Protected Areas Initiative and the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).
On October 18-21, 2018, the Green Guyana Expo and International Small Business Summit will be held at the Ramada Georgetown Princess Hotel and the adjacent National Stadium. This event, led by the African Business Roundtable, one of five business services organizations in Guyana, has three goals.
- Publicly plat-forming the Green State Development Strategy in practical ways so that the people of Guyana are educated about its principles, strategies, goals and milestones. This will be done in practical ways by means of the Expo;
- Highlighting the critical role small businesses will play in ensuring that there is a sustainable and environmentally inclusive transition from a “brown” economy to a “green” economy; and
- Ensuring government policies are developed and geared towards promoting small businesses so that they can be successful in a green economy.
President Granger will give the Keynote Address to this Inaugural Green Guyana Expo and International Small Business Summit.
Recently, President Granger’s speech on Environmental Stewardship gave insights into his vision. He stated, “Guyana is in transition to becoming a ‘green’ state. The ‘green’ state is a comprehensive developmental model which places emphasis on the protection of our environment, the preservation of our biodiversity, the promotion of the use of renewable energy and the adoption of practical measures to ensure climate adaptation. This country understands too well the risks posed by climate change. We cannot ignore the evidence of the daily damage to the coastal zone, frequency of flooding in the hinterland and extreme meteorological events. Guyana’s adhesion to the Paris Agreement on climate change affirmed that we stand on the side of the believers – those who are interested in slowing the rise in global temperatures. The GSDS is part of the means to develop a more resilient economy. It will help to boost production, enhance food security, promote value-added manufacturing and graduate Guyana towards becoming a digital nation through the use of ICT and to develop ‘green’ sectors such as transportation and renewable energy generation. The ‘green’ state will improve sanitation and safety. It will protect our land and rivers by ending the reckless disposal of waste and eliminate the use of mercury and single-use plastics”.
The vision of the Green Guyana Summit is to be a catalyst for the development of small businesses so that they can become the engine of growth and job creation for the transformation of Guyana’s brown economy along a low carbon, resource efficient and environmentally responsible path towards a Green Economy.
Minister of Finance, the Honorable Winston Jordan, in his 2018 Budget Speech echoed this important role of small businesses.
“Small businesses represent a vital component of our economy and getting more out of them at the time the government is rebuilding the governance structures of our public institutions is critical to boosting productivity and achieving greater economic growth and sustainable development.”
The Green Guyana Summit seeks “to promote the growth and importance of small businesses in Guyana so that a stronger, more resilient and diversified economy is sustained”. Speakers from 14 countries will attend the Summit, which will have six panels: (1) The Green State Development Strategy (GSDS); (2) green energy; (3) green manufacturing; (4) green services and green living ; (5) green agriculture; and (6) green financing.
From Guyana, there will be such speakers as Dr. Suresh Narine (Head of the Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST) and Chairman of CGX, Dr. Paulette
Bynoe and Dr. Terrence Blackman. From the USA, the contingent will be led by Gabriel de Alba, who is the Managing Director and Partner of Catalyst, and who was recently recognized by the Global M&A Network as the 2018 Global Private Equity Growth Dealmaker of the Year. Gabriel de Alba is also a founding member of the Bank of America International Merchant Banking Group. There are also key speakers from the UN System, including Mr. Leo Heileman and Adriana Zacariais Farah and Ambassador Mikiko Tanaka, the Resident Representative in Guyana.
The Summit will highlight private sector opportunities in a green economy. Delegations from Barbados and as far as the United Kingdom are expected. Interestingly, Barbados has over 200 electric cars in operation. The expo will have dedicated areas for our budding youth entrepreneurs as well as women in our villages that have pursued green agricultural initiatives.
A significant part of the expo will be dedicated to the education of the Nation, especially our youth and Private Sector. Schools all across Guyana will be invited to attend. The event will begin with a Film Festival on National TV during the two weeks prior to the event. There will all be a focus on inspiring and informing the nation and especially our young in our schools and educational institutions.
The expo will feature:
- A green youth entrepreneur section.
- A green village section for village entrepreneurs who are pursuing green initiatives.
- A green kids zone created by Conservation International, World Wildlife Federation and OCC.
- A green Guyana video section which will be based on a national competition for anyone to share his or her vision of a Green Guyana.
6. A green art wall competition which will allow our artistic individuals to express themselves.
Guyana is on the move to ensure sustainable inclusive growth underpinned by its commitments to Agenda 2030 and to Guyana’s global commitments on climate change.
Guyana needs to “Think Green, Act Green, Manufacture Green, Buy Green and Live Green!”
The Inaugural Green Guyana Expo and International Small Business Summit is one of many steps in Guyanese having a shared 2030 vision which is to create: “A green, inclusive and prosperous Guyana that provides a good quality of life for all of its citizens based on a sound education and social protection, low-carbon resilient development, green and decent jobs, economic opportunities, individual equality, justice and political empowerment. Guyana serves as a model of sustainable development and environmental security worldwide, demonstrating the transition to a decarbonized and resource efficient economy that values and integrates the multi-ethnicity of our country and enhances the quality of life for all Guyanese.”