Describing Hurricane Irma which barrelled through the Caribbean earlier this month as a deadly and destructive portent of the vulnerability of small island developing states, President David Granger on Wednesday called on the United Nations to help protect the `Guiana Shield’.
“A sustainable planet is humanity’s ultimate patrimony. Nothing is more vital to people’s survival,” President Granger observed during his address to the 72nd Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN), in which he cited Guyana’s role in global environmental stewardship.
The president reminded the delegates at the commencement of his speech of the importance in the General Debate of respecting the relevant theme of the assembly – “Focusing on people: Striving for peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet.” “Climate change is not a fiction or the invention of a few extremists. The small island states of the Caribbean and parts of North America have felt the devastating fury of a series of hurricanes – Harvey, Irma, José, Katia, Lee and Maria – to whose frequency and ferocity mankind has contributed through the reckless exploitation of earth’s resources,” Granger said, while noting that the world had been indifferent for too long to the need to protect the planet whose very sustainability is being threatened on many fronts.
“Hurricane Irma was a deadly, destructive portent of the extreme vulnerability and fragility of the Small Island developing and low-lying coastal states of the Caribbean. Guyana is playing its part, within the limits of its resources, to provide relief to affected populations in sister Caribbean states,” Granger said, as he shared Guyana’s role in the recent force of nature unleashed on its Caribbean neighbours.
Granger adverted to Guyana’s signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change last year at the UN Assembly and the renewal of its commitment to its goals this year. Its foresight, in 1989 – three years before the Rio Conference of 1992 – to enter into an environmental covenant with the international community.
“…to develop, demonstrate and make available to Guyana and the international community, systems, methods and techniques for the sustainable utilization of the multiple resources of the tropical forests and the conservation of biological diversity…” Granger quoted, from the late President Hoyte’s announcement at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where Guyana dedicated 360,000 hectares of its rainforest to the Iwokrama Project.
Twenty years after that international initiative, Granger told the Assembly, Guyana entered an agreement, with the Kingdom of Norway:
“…to work together to provide the world with a relevant, replicable model of how Reducing Emissions and Forest Degradation, plus conservation and sustainable forest management (REDD+) can align the development objectives of forest countries with the need to combat climate change.”
“Guyana is part of the ‘Guiana Shield’, one of the world’s last remaining blocks of pristine rainforest. The ‘Shield’ is the source of 15 per cent of the world’s freshwater reserves. The ‘Shield’s’ biodiversity provides ecosystem services such as food, freshwater and medicinal products. It provides environmental services such as the regulation of the water cycle, water quality and pollination.
The ‘Shield’s’ forests capture and store carbon, thereby mitigating the greenhouse effect. The ‘Shield’ is essential to life on the planet,” the president informed the gathering as he called on the UN to help protect and preserve the ‘Guiana Shield’ as a global resource for the survival and sustainability of the planet.