ECHO pushes corporate responsibility for environment

The Environmental Community Health Organisation (ECHO) yesterday held a conference aimed at providing awareness of the dangers facing planet earth because of irresponsible human behavioural practices.

Held under the theme “Corporate Social Responsibility and Climate Change,” the conference came against the backdrop of a desperate call for responsible ways of sustaining the environment for the benefit of all in the face of rapid climate change. Held at the Hotel Tower, the conference saw various presentations made by members of both the public and private sectors.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ECHO Royston King in his opening remarks told the sizable gathering that there must be an elevation of our individual and collective sense of ownership of the natural environment. He emphasised that ECHO has always argued that the lack of environmental stewardship has occasioned climate change.

“Historically, we mortals have not been good stewards of this planet,” King said. “It is not that we are incapable of it but we just assume that the environment will last forever in spite of our unfriendly environmental activities.”

He added that fighting climate change therefore, “demands that we all return to the fundamental value of good environmental stewardship.” As he emphasised the call for corporate social responsibility, King said corporations must demonstrate their ability to respond to the needs of the local communities in which they operate. In all local communities, there is an urgent need to secure the integrity of the natural environment and its resources.

The CEO stressed that it is important for the local business sector and stakeholders to be demanding and hold local corporations accountable for the way they treat and use the natural environment. He maintained that the effort should be made by all individuals and not just select groups.

Captain Gerry Gouveia, President of the Private Sector Commission who also spoke at the conference said that even though everyone has a civil responsibility to be involved in positive change in a bid to save the environment, governments should be held responsible since they are the key policy makers.

Gouveia said that not only is there a need for sustainable development now, but it is also equally important that we adopt responsible ways of dealing with the environment.

He stressed also that it is important for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to have an independent role, free from governmental interference as it seeks to cater for the sustainability of the environment.

Mirroring what both King and Gouveia said, Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud who delivered the keynote address, underscored the need for the involvement of all peoples in the fight towards saving the environment we all share.

Persaud said the conference is a timely one since all across the globe, catastrophes resulting from climate change can be seen on an almost daily basis, which result in food shortages and death, just to name a few.

The minister said that each citizen should make it their business and an obligation to demand responsibility from corporations if they are involved in activities that would harm the environment. He said however, that even as this is being done, all individuals should likewise be accountable to themselves for the way they treat the environment.

Persaud concluded that though some mega-corporations and other “big players” are making an effort to conduct their activities in an environmentally friendly way, much is left to be desired. He addedng that the Low Carbon Development Strategy recently launched by the Government of Guyana is a golden opportunity for all, as well as stakeholders to be corporately and socially responsible for the environment.

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