“In the past five years, we have experienced a real strengthening of our continental links as well as links with other new markets and economies. These linkages -in areas such as agriculture, minerals and environmental services -will hopefully create value for every country in CARICOM as we increasingly contribute to the response to the challenging global issues of our time such as food, energy, resource and climate security,” said Jagdeo.
Jagdeo highlighted an area where greater regional integration can help every country within CARICOM, and that is in the response to climate change and the promotion of green growth within Caribbean economies.
He noted that Caribbean countries are suffering from climate change, pointing out that in 2005, floods caused damage equivalent to 60 percent of Guyana’s GDP, and many of the island nations are suffering from extreme weather events which cause human suffering and long-term impacts on tourism; for example through coral bleaching.
“We are also impacted by the developed world’s policy response in the face of climate change – for example, through the impact of aviation duties and taxes in Europe. However, we are also capable of providing leadership in the response to climate change, through participation in the emerging green economy, which will be the world’s third industrial revolution. Perhaps we could do more to illustrate where we can help to drive global climate security. In the absence of a legally binding, global climate treaty, we should be seeking to access the climate finances agreed at Copenhagen and Cancun to make this happen. Our solar energy resources, forests and potential transformation in the energy and transportation sectors represent real opportunities for public and private finance to catalyse real impact,” Jagdeo told Prime Minister Douglas.
The Guyana President suggested “that greater co-ordination at a regional level might enable us to secure greater advances than is currently the case. Perhaps this could be considered in advance of the Rio +20 meeting that takes place in June 2012. Perhaps we could also do more to share our own experiences, among our own countries and with the broader international community.”
“I hope that Guyana is showing that the fight against climate change can be compatible with national development in countries like ours. I am pleased that our Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) is starting to make a positive impact on the lives of Guyanese citizens. Specifically, through our own investments and Payments for Environmental Services, we are selling forest climate services through an Interim REDD+ deal with Norway, and preserving 99.5% of our rainforest (which is about the size of England and Scotland combined) at the same time as enabling strategic infrastructure and valuable economic activities within the forest -such as sustainable forestry and mining; receiving payments from Norway for the climate services provided by the forest through the world ‘s second largest REDD+ deal -at US$250 million over 5 years ; Investing those payments in our transition to a green economy. Within five years, this will enable us to: eliminate 92% of our energy-related emissions (our REDD+ payments are catalysing almost a billion dollars in further, private finance for clean energy)” he said.
President Jagdeo also listed the distribution of 11,000 solar panels to indigenous households to ensure that every single indigenous home has access to electricity; establish an Amerindian Development Fund to address the specific needs identified by our indigenous Amerindian communities, drawn from their ancient and intimate relationship with the rainforest; build on an already existing programme that is providing 90,000 low income households with laptops and training, to boost our efforts to prevent the emergence of a digital divide in Guyana -this is key to laying the foundations for long-term employment in no extractive sectors and establish a world-class Centre for Bio-diversity.
He is also advocating investing in most pressing climate change adaptation priorities, including work to secure our coastline which is 1 metre below sea level and the location of our most valuable farm-land; attract a further US$2 billion in private finance for identified low carbon economic enterprise, in climate-smart agriculture and other sectors and build a world-class greenhouse gas monitoring, reporting and verification system (MRVS).
President Jagdeo told Prime Minister Douglas that it has been an honour to represent Guyana in the region and to play his part in CARICOM’s progress over the past twelve years.
“I have full confidence that the new Government in Guyana will remain dependable partners in the years ahead. I hope to see you again sometime in the near future, but in the meantime, I send you best wishes for all that you do in the years ahead,” said the Guyana leader.
Jagdeo is leaving office after serving two consecutive terms and in accordance with that country’s constitution, he was not able to stand in the recent elections, due to the term limits for the president.