Natural Resources Ministry working to raise awareness in hinterland communities

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Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud addressing Amerindian Leaders at the NTC 2014. [GINA Photo]
Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud addressing Amerindian Leaders at the NTC 2014. [GINA Photo]
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Amerindian leaders are being urged to work closely with agencies under the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry to ensure they continue along a path of sustainable living and livelihood.

During an interactive session with Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Robert Persaud, the importance of the NTC was underscored as it is very rare regionally and hemispherically for any grouping to interact with the Cabinet.

“I want to reinforce the importance of this activity and to indicate that it shows the commitment, as well as the dedication of the PPP/C in ensuring that the welfare and development of hinterland region is given equal attention as we pursue development in our communities, country wide.” Minister Persaud said.

“If you look at our policy documents, the National Development Strategy document and the Low Carbon Development Strategy, the welfare and wellbeing of our Amerindian brothers and sisters continue to be central and be given due attention, given the importance of the need for this positive interaction.”

The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment has a work base in more than 197 communities, of which 35% have issues as it relates to development and natural resources.

“We are working to have those matters addressed; we have developed an approach and continue to develop that approach whereby we want to be more proactive in addressing your concern, not to wait until we have conflict.”

The Minister pointed out that this approach which the Ministry is working towards targets community involvement and dialogue through the various agencies.

These agencies include the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, the Guyana Forestry Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Guyana Lands and Survey Commission and Wildlife department.

The Leaders were reminded that these agencies are mandated to engage with them, to address issues in their respective communities with the aim of finding possible solutions.

The proactive efforts are also intended to ensure concerns are readily addressed, Amerindians are given the opportunity to develop the natural capital, but at the same time do so as custodians of Guyana’s biodiversity while maintaining a level of stewardship.

Further, Minister Persaud noted that the Ministry has been working with other international partners to ensure that Amerindians continue to benefit from initiatives that will provide sustainable livelihood.

Some of the collaborative ventures include the Norway LCDS fund and the Global Environment Facility. Under the latter, several communities in the Rupununi have benefited from grants for developmental projects.

Under the Norway Fund, Guyana, because of the excellent management of the forest has been able to secure another US $35 M, making it a total of US$150 M for a three-year period.

“It is as a result of the work we have done it shows good stewardship of the forest and you have played a part in ensuring that we qualified for this payment. Another example too, at the time where we are seeing expanded mining we have been able to reduce the rate of deforestation,” he stated.

“For 2013 given the same year where we recorded the highest gold production we moved the deforestation rate to 0.086 % from 0.097 %. This is as a result of what the government has been going, as a result of the type of interaction we have had with your communities.”

Nevertheless, the Minister noted that there are still some issues that continue to arise from Amerindian communities as a result of not enough awareness.

“In many instances we have found that there is the need for a greater understanding of the guiding legislations that speak to the rights and privileges of all Guyanese in the utilisation of our natural resources.” Hence, the Minister reiterated the need to raise the level of education and awareness.

He called on Amerindian leaders to be more aware of persons and groups that are bent on creating distrust and confusion on issues. [Extracted and modified from GINA]

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