Timothy Sears: President Jagdeo’s award, the prestigious United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Champions of the Earth Award is the highest environmental award given by the UN, to give recognition of persons who show vision and take up the torch of environmental leadership through their action and influence.
In receiving this award Jagdeo said that he will donate the US$40,000 prize money to Amerindian communities in Guyana.
Really now, this is where I make my point. While people questioned the President and the administration’s stern commitment to its environmental – economic policy, the LCDS, they can now see the positive returns of the vision presented, one that was criticized by so many who will now reap the rewards of the Memorandum of Understanding between Guyana and Norway.
The result will see Guyana benefiting from US$250M over a five year period. Let’s then couple that financial in-flow with the Amaila Falls project, also scheduled to be completed in five years.
Here we have a fusion of a strong national treasury, diversified economy and industries and a clean energy source to power development programs, activities and construction projects, across the country.
Contributors to the letter pages and social commentators rambled on at length about the President’s travelling schedule and questioned motives and spoke of hidden agendas and launched conspiracy theories. But what does the evidence available indicate?
In 2008, the President of Guyana was named by TIME Magazine as a Hero of the Environment. He is currently serving on a UN High Level Advisory Panel on Climate Change Financing, a position shared with the Prime Ministers of Britain, Ethiopia and Norway. Past winners of the Earth Award include Al Gore, Thabo Mbeki, Mikhail Gorbachev, Princes of Monaco and Jordan, and the King of Bhutan.
Having followed this national interest matter keenly, I know that Guyana’s move towards the LCDS was conceptualised two years ago when Guyana made a commitment to deploy its forests to a long-term protection plan provided that the right economic incentives were created and would be used to re-orient the economy into a low carbon environmentally sound direction.
So, potentially over the next five years, Guyana will remove virtually the entire energy sector from fossil fuel dependence, and provide for indigenous and other interior communities.
President Jagdeo’s achievement as a climate change advocate has enhanced Guyana’s image internationally as the country is now a member of the Forest Eleven group of countries.
Guyana’s environmental and humanitarian profile has been raised exponentially. And while we continue to populate and re-populate this country, consider the standard of living available to residents in a country that is loaded with mineral resources and now has the capacity to market and preserve its largest natural resource, the pristine forests, which, if left standing, is worth between US$500M and US$2B per year.