Guyana remains committed to sustainable development

-Persaud tells Rio+20 preparatory meeting

Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud says Guyana remains committed to implementing measures for sustainable development, at the United Nations (UN) Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) Rio+20 Sub Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Caribbean held at the Guyana International Conference Centre recently.

According to a Government Information Agency (GINA) press release, the meeting was a follow-up to the second session of the Preparatory Committee for the UNCSD that was convened in March at the UN Headquarters in New York. UNCSD aims to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress made to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development and address new and emerging challenges. The preparatory meetings will discuss and refine themes such as a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and the institutional framework for sustainable development.

In his address to the delegation, Persaud said the fact that several nations and international organisations are meeting on these issues highlights the need for collective sovereign interaction to attain sustainable development as UNCSD approaches. He said it is important for countries to recall that the conference on sustainable development known as the RIO conference, held 20 years ago, laid the framework for stronger global political commitment and partnering, with the objective of having a balanced and a more integrated approach for the implementation of the three components of sustainable development: environment, social and economic action. Further, he said, the Barbados programme of action continues to lay road maps for addressing the timeframe for development in the region.

Persaud also noted that while the progress towards achieving sustainable development has been inadequate, the recent Caribbean report of the five-year review and the Barbados plan of action highlighted many of the common inherent vulnerabilities that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) face and outlines an extensive list of recommendations. The increase in adverse weather conditions globally, along with the global financial decline and other crises add to the many problems already affecting SIDS.   The minister noted that though the path to sustainable development becomes more challenging, some progress has been made individually and collectively.

A number of national plans, strategies and initiatives, along with a plethora of international and political agreements have started to come to fruition and many states have started to mainstream sustainable development into their governance and government approaches. “However, much more is needed in terms of financial resources, technical expertise, monitoring and evaluation and a development of targets and benchmarks, and better regional cooperation,” he said.

Persaud also spoke about the Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) which was launched in 2009, and which charts a development pathway of being the stimulating creation of development along a low carbon pathway. He noted that the key aspect of the LCDS strategy is that it creates a framework for all development activities to take place using environmental practices in a sustainable development approach. The LCDS presents itself as a pioneering national scale development policy, which can be a useful development model lesson to the world as RIO+20 Summit approaches, he added. It addresses poverty reduction, the diversification of the economy while at the same time reducing pressure on natural resource. To this end, Guyana has undertaken a number of initiatives which include a bilateral agreement with Norway and it has become the first partner to the World Bank’s forest partnership. Persaud also said that despite the delays honouring commitments of the initiatives agreed upon, focus must remain on priority areas.

UNCSD Secretary-General Sha Zukang, addressing delegates via Skype, said that effective cooperation depends on the national and regional preparations made. He also said that as host of this preparatory meeting, Guyana has a grand opportunity to work with resident partners and civil society.

Zukang said the UNCSD provides important opportunities for parties of delegations to air their views, first at a sub-regional level, then at an inter-regional level. Zukang said according to the five-year Caribbean report, the crisis of global recession and rising sea levels globally have added to the list of vulnerabilities faced by SIDS.

Brice Lalonde (France) and Elizabeth Thompson (Barbados) are also UNCSD executive coordinators.

According to GINA, on December 24 2009, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 64/236 agreeing to convene the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio 2012) in 2012 in Brazil. This will mark the 40th anniversary of the first major international political conference specifically having the word “environment” in its title; the United Nations Conference on Human Environment, which took place in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1972. The UNCSD will also mark the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), which convened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992, the release added.

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