Bartica residents urged to own ‘greening’ of town -as OCC takes awareness session to Region Seven

Georgetown, Guyana – (June 20, 2018) Head of the Office of Climate Change (OCC), Ms. Janelle Christian, today, charged the residents of Bartica, Cuyuni-Mazaruni (Region Seven) to take ownership for the Transitioning to National Energy Security (TNES): Bartica as a model ‘Green’ Town Project and the ‘greening’ of their town as she noted that while the Government is working to achieve the vision of making Bartica the first ‘green’ town in Guyana and Caribbean, its sustainability depends on the people.

Ms. Christian was at the time speaking to key stakeholders and residents of Bartica at the second part of the TNES Project, for which the international consultants are in the country to commence work. The TNES Project is being implemented by the OCC in partnership with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and funded by the Government of Italy under the Italy-Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Partnership Programme. The objective of the project is to gather and compile data on energy use in Bartica, which will be used to inform evidence-based decision making for the future implementation of projects and programmes.

In her remarks to stakeholders, Ms. Christian said that community ownership is critical if the project is to be successful. “What is important is community ownership. This is a project that is specifically for Bartica and while you will be working with national institutions, it is for the residents here to embrace, to inform and have the leadership to take it forward because whatever is done here will have to be sustained by the municipality and its people…,” she said.

In this regard, the Head of the OCC noted that it is important for all stakeholders to work together, putting personal differences aside so that the vision for the town can be realised.

“We have to really renew our thinking and see the possibilities beyond the challenges that we have had as a country. We have been our own worst enemies in that we have not learnt to work together and that is what I am asking for. Despite our political differences, this is a place I am sure you would want your children to inherit and what they receive will be a reflection of what we did and didn’t do. We talk about sustainable development, development that meet the present needs without jeopardising the future but it’s more of leaving the environment at a level that they can even enjoy a future than the one we have. We need your support and involvement,” she said.

Ms. Christian noted that the work, which commenced today, will assist Government to make informed choices and decisions particularly in the area of ‘green’ development, particularly as it pursues a ‘green’ agenda. She said, “We need to ensure that the solutions that we bring are really addressing the needs of the community. We do not want to do guess work. We need to look at what is applicable to our country and this part of the country.”

Mr. Gifford Marshall, Mayor of Bartica, in his remarks, echoed these sentiments as he noted that residents and Guyanese as a whole, must come together to combat climate change, its effects on the environment and the human race. He noted that every citizen has a role to play and as such, called on residents of Bartica to embrace the work, which will be ongoing over the next six months.

“Our environment is not the same. If things have changed in just about 14 to 15 years then what type of environment are we going to leave for our children? As a people, we have to choose in which direction we are going and today I want to say that we all have a responsibility to our environment. Greening is not just about planting trees or waste management. One of the effects on our environment is our dependence on fossil fuels and we have as a people to choose our destiny and choose it carefully. We have destroyed our environment enough. Let us take care of our environment. Let us change the way in which we do business and apply principles and policies that protect our environment. The Municipality has tried to pilot projects so residents of Bartica can catch the vision. This is the direction we are going in. We do not want to make decisions based on what we feel or think but rather on facts and data and this project will provide that information for us to move ahead aggressively,” the Mayor said.

Mr. Gavin Bovell, Project Manager of the TNES, said that the work over the coming months will focus on household baseline surveys, energy and transport audits. The energy audits, he noted, will focus primarily on government institutions and buildings.

On this note, Canada-based consultant from environmental engineering and design consultancy, CBCL Limited, Mr. Anthony Hlahatsi, said that his group will be focusing on energy audits in the town to pave the way for efficient energy use policies and initiatives.

“Our task is to audit the public facilities, municipal buildings and infrastructure, the police station as well as schools within the area. This will continue until Sunday. We are also going to do a socio economic study and determine what the benefits are for the people here and will try to get data on energy consumption to date in this area. We are starting with government buildings because I believe the government wants to show that the local government is leading by example. We will also look at the scope for other renewable projects and build on and augment the existing ones,” he said.

Consultant from Institute of Environment and Development (IDAD) based in Portugal, Mr. Miguel Coutinho spoke on the development of an energy efficient transportation sector. “Transportation is a very important issue as far as climate change is concerned… Almost 40 per cent of imported fuel goes to transportation… as citizens, all of us have a role to play. When we decide to go to a certain place using a certain mode of transportation, that decision has… a strong impact on climate change… We want to understand… how people in Bartica move around… and why they do it and to try to understand if it’s possible to make recommendations to change this system,” he said.

2R Productions Incorporated is tasked with the documentation of the project, preparation of the projections content manual and formulation of the communication plan for the way forward. Communication Consultant, Mr. Huntley Medley said that simplicity is the key to disseminating information and keeping all levels of society abreast and involved. “It’s really about unifying, simplifying, and amplifying. We have to take all these materials and unify them to see how they fit into one big picture. We have to simplify it so people understand [that]… there are practical, everyday applications that are beneficial in everyday life… The amplification is to tell it repeatedly and get people involved in telling the story themselves… The people themselves become so involved that they are also replicating the information,” he said.

The OCC has over the past two years been implementing two initiatives aimed at realising President David Granger’s vision to create a green economy throughout Guyana.