PM Phillips calls for collective action to protect ‘Guiana Shield’

Prime Minister Mark Phillips

Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips Monday highlighted the importance of safeguarding the Guiana Shield at the opening ceremony of the third Guiana Shield Strategic Dialogue, at the Marriott Hotel in Kingston, Georgetown.

The Guiana Shield, encompassing Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Venezuela, and parts of Colombia and Brazil, is a vital eco-region critical to combating climate change, boasting rich biodiversity and significant economic potential.

“We must seek to harness the power of collective action to address the root causes of environmental degradation and enjoy the long-term sustainability of the Guyana Shield,” the prime minister underscored.

“We must commit ourselves to the shield as we continue this dialogue, keeping in mind the need to encourage continued research, communication, and empowering local communities,” PM Phillips added.

The strategic dialogue brings together Guyana, Suriname, France, and Brazil to address threats to the shield’s integrity and explore solutions.

Border issues, illicit trafficking, maritime security, and climate change are key areas of focus.

According to the Prime Minister, forging stronger collaboration and innovation is vital for shared prosperity and environmental sustainability.

“While the challenges remain great, so too remains the consistency and drive channelled by our collective dedication to protecting the untouched biodiversity and ecological integrity of the Guiana Shield for generations to come,” the prime minister stated.

PM Phillips noted that Guyana’s commitment to shield preservation is exemplified by initiatives like the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS 2030), which prioritises rainforest conservation, a significant carbon sink.

“These efforts have contributed to global climate action, and empowered local communities and indigenous peoples to be stewards of their lands,” he pointed out.

In December 2022, the country signed the historic multi-year agreement with Hess Corporation, which resulted in the country purchasing 2.5 million carbon credits annually for the years 2016-2030.

This means that Guyana receives payments for maintaining its forest cover.

These funds are then directed towards sustainable development projects, such as coastal defence, renewable energy, and resilient agriculture systems.

Recently, the country’s carbon credits were also deemed eligible for use by airlines, for the initial phase of the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) global emission reduction programme, CORSIA.

“Through promoting sustainable land use practices, backing community-based conservation efforts, and fostering collaborations among governments, NGOs, and local communities, worthwhile initiatives towards securing a more robust and sustainable future for the Guiana Shield can be realised,” he said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, encouraged all in attendance to harness the spirit of collaboration and solidarity to address security challenges and prepare for evolving threats.

The Guiana Shield Strategic Dialogue runs from April 29 to April 30. [DPI]