Message of His Excellency Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, on World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought 2021
Guyana joins the world in observing World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, which this year is headlined by the theme “Restoration. Land. Recovery: We build back better with healthy land.”
Land is a central resource for human existence. It provides us with the means to satisfy our basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. Land is a source of livelihood and indispensable for food security. The critical importance of land makes its absolutely imperative for us to commit to preventing and reducing land degradation and promoting land restoration and land recovery.
Guyana is a signatory to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) which commits member states to maintaining and restoring land, and to mitigating the effects of droughts and floods. The Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission, which is the principal agency tasked with local land administration, is also the country’s National Focal Point to the UNCCD.
The work of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission is therefore critical to Guyana’s commitments to ensure land degradation neutrality by 2030. A National Land Use Plan has been developed, as have several regional land use plans. In addition, Guyana remains wedded to the goal of finalising a land use policy. With these in place, Guyana will be well poised to not only meet its obligations under the UNCCD but also to improve local land management.
Guyana also is implementing a Sustainable Land Management project. In our forestry sector, we are practicing conservation and sustainable forest management. As a consequence, Guyana can boast proudly of having one of the lowest rates of deforestation in the world. Guyana has also recently signed on to the Leaders Pledge for Nature, which commits us to conserving and protecting our biological resources and ecosystems. These policies and measures evince our determination to protect our land resources for the benefit of future generations.
Unfortunately, the observance of World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought 20211 finds Guyana experiencing a natural disaster: countrywide flooding. This disaster is a reminder of our vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate change. The floods have resulted in economic losses, biodiversity loss and soil loss, and have impacted on the livelihoods of our citizens. I am confident however that, given our commitment to protecting our land resources and through our interventions, that we will rebound from this disaster and better prepared for future threats.
On this special day, Guyana joins the global community in observing the significance of land. We reaffirm our commitment to sustainably managing our lands and to advancing initiatives aimed at land restoration and recovery.