It is an opportune time for Guyana to think big in terms of conservation initiatives with great potential for the success of the green economy strategy. These observations came from the President Emeritus and Vice Chair of Conservation International (CI), Dr Russell Mittermeier.
He was at the time delivering a presentation on ‘The Natural Heritage of the Guiana shield: An irreplaceable gift to Humanity’ which saw a gathering of government officials, advocates for the environment and special invitees at Duke Lodge on Monday. The event hosted by CI, was held under the sub- theme ‘Celebrating 50 years of sustainable management of natural capital’.
Referencing the agreement signed in New York by President David Granger after the 21st Conference of Parties in 2015, Dr Mittermeier said, “I think it’s, if not the best, it’s one of the best ones to come out of the Paris Convention.”
Guyana’s development of a green economy was just one suggestion for the conservation and improvement of the environment. But, the establishment of a green economy must be underpinned by the process of natural capital accounting. “I think it’s very, very, important,” Dr Mittermeier said.
Natural capital accounting is the measurement and valuation of nature’s benefits in terms of ecosystem goods and services. It helps policymakers and decision-makers better understand that economic development is dependent on natural resources. Natural capital accounting is employed in 12 African countries with varying levels of success, Dr Mittermeier explained.
There is also an advanced programme in Peru that has seen success. Dr Mittermeier offered to bring a team from Washington and Peru to demonstrate how natural capital accounting works.
Guyana is a privileged country given its location within the Guiana Shield and especially when compared with other countries that have problems with their rainforest. Taking advantage of initiatives such as REDD+ is a “big opportunity” for developing countries like Guyana, Dr Mittermeier stressed.
Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development.
Recent published research has revealed that rainforests are 50 percent of the solution to climate change. Guyana is the second greenest country on earth and has the second highest forest carbon capture per capita. “Think about that, 50 percent of the solution to this global issue of climate change could be in conservation, restoration, maintenance of rainforests,” said Dr Mittermeier.
There is also “enormous potential” for the country to benefit from the Green Climate Fund, Dr Mittermeier pointed out. The Fund is a unique global initiative to respond to climate change by investing into low-emission and climate-resilient development.
Countries with a lot of forests, such as Guyana are in an advantageous position to benefit from these kinds of initiatives Dr Mittermeier noted.