Dept. of Environment, Office of Climate Change to be merged

—LCDS to guide climate actions
—Gov’t re-engaging Norway on GRIF

The Government is merging the Department of Environment and the Office of Climate Change to ensure a focused approach to tackle climate change.

Vice President, Hon. Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo on Friday told a press conference the new entity would be the Department of Environment and Climate Change.

He said there had been a great deal of overlap between the two existing departments. “A lot of people working on projects in a very isolated way, almost in silos without any order or regard as to outcome. So, there has not been a clearly defined goal of what we want to achieve.”

The VP added that the Green State Development Strategy formulated by the previous administration was loosely defined and without a project for it to be effective. He said many people were clueless about how their work fitted into the strategy based on the feedback he received.

Dr. Jagdeo related that President Mohamed Irfaan Ali made it clear that the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) will be the main document guiding the country’s climate actions domestically.

He noted that through the LCDS, Guyana was able to secure funding from Norway through the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) during the previous PPP/C stint in office. The government, he said, is working to revitalize that partnership.

“We have written to Norway; we got a reply, so we are looking to re-engage with Norway soon on the engagements that we have and a review of the last programme. We are looking to negotiate a new programme that will bring additional funding for the country and for initiatives.”

Under GRIF, projects identified included grants to small businesses, a centre for biodiversity studies, ICT for vulnerable communities and Amerindian Land Titling.

“We have spent the last few months reviewing them because they are stalled. Even though we had US$17M assigned to the telecommunications project, US$4 million has been spent, but a lot of the equipment is just sitting in a bond. So, we now have to swiftly get these 200 hubs created in the hinterland areas,” the Vice President said.

Dr. Jagdeo pointed out that the previous administration misused money received through the Fund. “Money that we earned from Norway was spent on hosting conventions… a lot of trips for the staff at Lands and Surveys to travel the world without focusing on the things that really matter… I am telling you this because we stood still for five years and we have just had a few short months to re-engage in this area,” he disclosed.

The LCDS, he said, will be expanded in the areas of biodiversity, water management and other sectors. Dr. Jagdeo added that the government is creating a coordinated and efficient mechanism to deal with all climate and environment-related issues.