EPA Key Achievements for 2022
During 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stayed firmly on its course towards becoming a modern and responsive environmental regulator and achieved notable successes in several key areas.
Strengthening Complaints and Emergency Response
The Agency established a dedicated Complaints and Emergency Response Department with a staff complement of eight (8) and the plan is to increase this number in 2023. This Department effectively responds to complaints of noise, dust and fumes emanating from small and medium-scale business involved in manufacturing and industrial activities in communities across communities in regions 2, 3, 4 and 6. To enhance its effectiveness in handling noise complaints the Agency formally established a partnership with the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and executed joint enforcement regarding noise nuisances, particularly from bars and night clubs.
The Agency continued its engagement with Neighborhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) to build their capacity to investigate and resolve environmental complaints and address issues related to solid waste and littering. At the end of 2022, the Agency received 518 complaints, investigated 366, and closed 156. At present, there are 107 active complaints cases engaging the Agency’s attention. In enforcing the Environmental Protection Act, the Agency has three (3) matters before the Courts for breach of Prohibition Notices served on polluters.
The Agency boosted its environmental emergency response capacity by putting in place a cadre of dedicated staff totaling 35 persons covering technical, administrative and other support. Further, environmental emergency response was allocated a dedicated vehicle and outfitted with Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and various testing equipment. In addition, the staff were trained in practices for conducting effective investigations and emergency response through support from California EPA.
Strengthening Environmental Permitting Process
The Agency strengthened its decision-making process for the granting of Permits through a revamped screening process. It is able to set and provide clear guidance to the regulated community (developers) on the requirements needed to operate in an environmental sound manner. This is supported by environmental guidelines, outreach and engagement with private sector and communities. In addition, the Agency has revised its internal project screening process and strengthened staff capacity to determine the significance of potential environmental impacts of proposed development projects across all sectors.
The Agency’s Oil and Gas Department revised the Environmental Permits for offshore production activities e.g., Yellowtail and Liza Phase 1 Permits, to better align them with best international industry practices. The Agency also signed an MoU with International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP) which has resulted in collaboration and receipt of technical support and advice related to regulating the oil and gas sector.
Enhancing Remote Real-time Monitoring
In February 2022, the Agency for the first time, installed five (5) Air Quality Sensors provided by IQAir with the capability to measure the concentration of key air pollutants-Particulate Matter (PM) – PM2.5, PM1, PM10, and Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Each sensor unit has the ability to cover a radius of 20-25 km and a performance accuracy of 82%. The sensors are currently located in Georgetown at the Agency’s Head Office in Georgetown, Eccles – East Bank Demerara, Vilvoorden – Essequibo Coast, Whim, Berbice, and in Linden.
Importantly, the Agency is proud to have in place real-time reporting of environmental discharges from the Liza 1 FPSO, and a platform for tracking marine vessels in our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Agency is proud to have signed a contract with MAXAR Technologies to have tasked satellite monitoring offshore and onshore including detection of oil spills, slicks and spills. In addition to remote sensing capabilities, the Agency has equipped staff with state-of-the-art field technology for monitoring and data collection in the form of tough tablets and field phones with thermal sensors and specialized equipment to detect and monitor radiation, water and air pollution. Further, the Agency partnered with HYDROMET, Department of Fisheries, and Environmental Management Consultants (EMC) and conducted several water quality monitoring expeditions along the Essequibo River, and our Coastal waters. This monitoring provided us with key baseline data of the state of these water bodies, which will inform future management and conservation efforts.
Investing in our Human Resources
In 2022, the Agency made a significant investment in building the capacity of its staff, supported by the GYD 40 million allocated by Government of Guyana for training. Further, the Agency established a fully staffed Human Resources Department, including a dedicated program for training its staff to meet its mandate.
Communicating, educating and building environmental awareness of the public
The Agency also placed significant emphasis on raising awareness about environmental issues. It organized a Green Walk as a highlight event to celebrate World Environment Day 2022. The Walk attracted the participation of the President of Guyana, several Ministers of Government and over 2,000 persons from government agencies, schools, and private sector entities. At the end of the Walk, the President committed funding of $100,000 each to school-based environmental clubs, towards providing them with resources to engage in environmental awareness and building future environmental stewards.
Additionally, the Agency was able to host its Annual Teachers Training Camp after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Training Camp is considered a valuable contribution to building the competency of the nation’s educators to practice the diffusing of environmental issues in classrooms.
The Agency’s key achievements in 2022, demonstrates its commitment to protecting the environment and communities in Guyana. The Agency’s efforts to strengthen complaints and emergency response, the environmental permitting process and remote real-time monitoring have greatly improved its ability to effectively regulate and monitor and respond to environmental hazards, complaints and emergencies. The Agency will continue to build on these achievements and work towards becoming an even more responsive and effective environmental regulator in the future.
The EPA’s strategic focus for 2023-2025: In 2023, the Agency is strategically continuing its efforts to become a modern and effective environmental regulator. The Agency will focus on leveraging cutting-edge science and technology, such as artificial intelligence and data analytics, to improve its regulatory compliance and enforcement efforts. This will help secure a sustainable low-carbon development future for all Guyanese through effective environmental protection and conservation of biodiversity.
One of the key plans for the year is to digitize the permitting and compliance process, and complaints process, in order to make them more efficient and user-friendly. The agency is also working on a revamped website and other communication tools to better inform the public and other stakeholders about its work.
In 2023 our focus will be on the following key goals:
The Agency’s Key Goals for 2023 include:
- An enhanced and effective environmental authorization process that prevents adverse environmental impacts, protects human health and supports Guyana’s low-carbon development trajectory.
- A risk-based environmental compliance program that ensures regulated entities, citizens, stakeholders, and partners understand their obligations and shared responsibility, resulting in improved environmental performance.
- Polluters are held accountable and increased public confidence in the agency’s ability to protect the environment through an effective enforcement program.
- Enhanced decision-making, actions, and guidance to the regulated community, government, co-regulators, partners, and the general public through the incorporation of cutting-edge science and technology.
- Organizational excellence by effectively delivering on strategic goals and annual plans through motivated staff, high-performance culture, and appropriate systems, tools, equipment, and support services by 2025.
- Effective implementation of obligations under the Low Carbon Development Strategy 2030, key Multilateral Environmental Agreements, and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) to address biodiversity, climate change, land degradation, and other key environmental issues.
Finally, the EPA is committed to working towards a sustainable future for Guyana and will continue to take steps to improve its ability to protect the environment and public health. The public can expect clear communication from the agency about its plans and progress throughout the year.