Hundreds of persons from mainly the academic fraternity, a significant majority of whom are Canadians, packed the halls of three of Canada’s best universities – Trent, York and Toronto – to listen and interact with Guyanese Head of State President Bharrat Jagdeo over the past two days as he drummed-up crucial support in his widely-acclaimed international lobbying efforts on the crucial issue of climate change.
They offered him unreserved encouragement and hailed his bold climate change leadership battle on the world stage.
Speaking to a packed hall at the Trent University on Wednesday evening, the President fielded a number of questions on issues such as REDD, women and gender involvement in the consultation process on the LCDS model, monitoring and evaluation systems, and even expectations at Copenhagen.
The same interactive pattern continued at York University yesterday morning and the University of Toronto yesterday afternoon.
Director of the Centre for Environment at the University of Toronto, Professor Ingrid Leman Stefanovic, in introducing President Jagdeo during his lecture in the University of Toronto Great Hall (Hart House), disclosed that the Guyanese Head of State is the very first “genuine” Head of State in the world to have visited and delivered a lecture at the university’s Centre for Environment.
Noting that the University has hosted lectures by persons of the ilk of former US Vice- President Al Gore, a Nobel prize winner for his efforts in climate change, Professor Stefanovic said that “this is the very first time that a genuine head of state of a country has come here to the University of Toronto to deliver a lecture…and this is a very big first for the university and we are all extremely proud to be a part of this.”
She hastened to add, “But we are hosting more than just another Head of State as His Excellency President Jagdeo is making waves internationally on the issue of climate change…and growing in his stature as a world leader on this important issue.”
President Jagdeo noted that one of the reasons why he decided to accept the invitation to speak at these Canadian universities is to raise awareness among academia and the public at large on the dangers of climate change and to raise awareness about Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy.
The President spoke at length at all three universities on the genesis of climate change and how it is now an accepted fact globally that there is climate change; the first time that the whole issue was discussed in the Brasilian city of Rio in 1992 and then on to the Kyoto Protocol right through to the expectations at the upcoming major climate change summit in Copenhagen in December.
Noting that over the past 40 years, some 50% of the world’s forests was lost or degraded, in spite of a lot of philanthropy – however well intentioned – from NGOs and some amount of overseas development assistance directed to forest conservation, President Jagdeo said the cause of this is because the model being used failed to address the drivers of deforestation and degradation.
The President said what is needed now, as a matter of priority, is for political leaders to demonstrate a will to act, and for a new method of accountability at the global level.
“What I believe is crucial now is the political breakthrough…and this can only come from the people who have the will to act,” the President stated.
The more than hour-long sessions at the universities were very interactive in nature with President Jagdeo responding to numerous questions and queries about issues surround climate change and the Guyana LCDS model.