Govt unveils guide for ‘green state’

The government has crafted a framework document for its Guyana Green State Development Strategy (GSDS), which will utilise funding from the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF).

Finalized and released yesterday by the Ministry of the Presidency’s Department of Environment (DoE), the “Framework of the Guyana Green State Development Strategy and Financing Mechanisms” is intended to provide guidance on the prioritized areas to be developed in the GSDS.

This strategy, according to the framework document, is to be completed over the course of the next 10 months with guidance from nationwide consultations and stakeholders’ feedback.

The United Nations Environmental Programme (UN Environment) and the UN Country Team (UNCT) are also expected to work closely with government in developing the strategy.

Guidance is expected to be received in the areas covered by the seven major themes of the strategy: 1) Green inclusive, structural transformation; 2) Sustainable management of natural resources; 3) Energy – transition towards renewable energy; 4) Resilient infrastructure and spatial development; 5) Human development and wellbeing; 6) Governance and institutional foundations; and, 7) International cooperation, trade and investment.

Once completed, the strategy is expected to guide Guyana’s economic and sociocultural development over the next 15 years. “It will lay the foundations for inclusive green economic growth, provide a roadmap for achieving sustainable development targets, and outline a long term vision for a prosperous and equitable future,” the framework explains in its executive summary. “The objective of the strategy is to reorient and diversify Guyana’s economy, reducing reliance on traditional sectors and opening up new sustainable income and investment opportunities in higher value adding and higher growth sectors,” it adds.

It also notes that the GSDS will identify and make policy recommendations on a number of legal and institutional actions that might be carried out to allow the transition to a green state.

A consultation document in the form of a Green Paper will be issued by the government containing proposals for future government policy, while its conclusions will be contained in a White Paper before the proposals it contains are brought before the Cabinet, and potentially the National Assembly as a Bill.

The framework document, according to the DoE, represents a roadmap for developing Guyana along a reduced emissions pathway and builds on the successes of the previous government’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and several other national documents such as the Nationally Determined Contributions, Climate Resilience Strategy Action Plan (CRSAP), Draft National Energy Policy, and National Adaptation Strategy for the Agricultural Sector (2009 -2018).

Within the framework document, the present context of each theme is provided along with a consolidation of the relevant goals and targets; and an outline of the strategic areas to be developed with expert groups and through broad national multi-stakeholder consultations.

“It builds on past strategies and lays out the elements to be examined and consulted upon during the course of the GSDS’s development. Likewise, the Framework incorporates the recommendations received during the initial multi-stakeholder cluster consultations, which took place in Georgetown, during the 13th to 15th December 2016 with the support of the UN Environment, in coordination with UNCT,” it says.

Under the theme of Energy – transition towards renewable energy and Greater energy independence, the framework notes that Guyana is committed to a set of energy-related international and national targets based on the Sustainable Develop-ment Goals (SDGs) and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

These goals include removing import duty and tax barriers on the importation of renewable energy equipment, compact fluorescent lamps and LED lamps to incentivize and motivate energy efficient behaviour; conducting energy audits and replace inefficient lighting at public, residential and commercial buildings to reduce energy consumption; implementing public education and awareness programmes to provide consumers with information and tools to reduce energy consumption and expenditure; implementing building codes and net-metering of residential renewable power; and seeking to construct and/or promote the construction of small hydro systems at suitable locations, such as Moco Moco, Kato and Tumatumari. There is no mention of the Amaila Hydro project in the framework document.

Other goals mentioned include powering all of the six newly-established townships, starting with Bartica, using renewable energy sources; working closely with farmers in agricultural areas across Guyana to encourage the use of bio-digesters to reduce waste; produce biogas and provide affordable, healthy and efficient cooking means in the household.

The document explains that Guyana has historically depended on imported petroleum-based fuels as its primary source of energy, with the country importing roughly $300-600 million per year in fossil fuels between 2012 and 2016, accounting for 15-33% of imports, and equal to 25-45% of the value of exports.

“In shifting to low carbon energy, the Govern-ment of Guyana has set as zero-rated several items. Any machinery and equipment for utilizing energy from renewable sources is fully exempt from import duties.

It has also implemented programmes to install energy efficient street lighting, and to conduct energy audits on some government buildings and implement energy use reductions,” the document explains. The framework document is available at the ministry website (www.motp.gov.gy) and on its Facebook page.

The Government of Norway has said that it is awaiting a plan from Georgetown

“for a concrete, realistic and cost effective transition to clean and renewable energy in line with Guyana’s (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) INDC and the spirit of our partnership”. It is unclear if this plan will suffice.

Access by Guyana to US$120m derived from the forest protection partnership with Norway depends on the presentation of such a plan.

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