Guyana celebrates VPA forestry initialling

Georgetown, Guyana — (November 30, 2018) Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, last evening, said that the signing of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) pushes Guyana steps closer to establishing a fully ‘green’ State.

“We are pleased because the implementation of the agreement will assist greatly in our efforts to effectively manage our forestry resources and to put legal, sustainable, and environmentally friendly exploitation of those resources.  This is fully consistent with Guyana’s quest to establish a ‘green’ State and our 20-year development plan as outlined in the Green State Development Strategy… The Government of Guyana commits to a complete participatory engagement with all the relevant local and international stakeholders to enable the transparent and efficient implementation of the VPA,” he said.

The FLEGT VPA provides good governance for the export of wood from Guyana, ensuring it comes from a legitimate and sustainable source.  The agreement, made between Guyana and the European Union (EU), was initialled by Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Raphael Trotman last Friday, November 23, 2018, in Brussels, Belgium.

Ambassador of the EU Delegation, Mr. Jernej Videtic said that Guyana has set the standard for ‘green’ development within the Region.

“This is the first VPA to be initialled in the Caribbean, which makes Guyana, not only a pioneer for good governance and sustainable forest management, but also an example and inspiration for all in the region desirous of following Guyana in pursuit of a ‘green’ economy.  Today, you are also sending a strong message to the rest of the world that Guyana is committed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and global objective of combatting climate change.  You’re also saying to the world that Guyana respects the rights of its Indigenous peoples by democratically involving them in an initiative which will guard against deforestation while protecting the rich and unique ecosystem that is part of the Guianas,” he said.

Mr. Videtic pledged the EU’s unwavering support as Guyana leads the Region in the fight against climate change.

Speaking on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Representative, Mr. Reuben Robertson, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Ms. Mikiko Tanaka said that Guyana also has the FAO’s support in this endeavour.

“FAO is supportive of the VPA and its roles and looks forward to the anticipated positive results to be achieved under this agreement.  This may seem to the rest of the world a small step, but it is a giant leap for Guyana towards a more resilient and diversified economy,” she said.

Deputy British High Commissioner to Guyana, Mr. Ray Davidson said that while this step is significant, it is only the beginning for Guyana.

“Initialling of the agreement is a vital step if Guyana is to improve access to international timber markets, but let’s not forget it’s a step.  There is still much to be done for VPA implementation and UK and the EU is fully committed to helping in this… From a personal standpoint, what I look forward to is when I get back to the UK after my posting [and] be able to go into a shop, buy a nice wooden bench for my garden that says on it ‘supplied from sustainable forestry in Guyana,’” he said.

The simple reception was held at the Cara Lodge Hotel. Minister of Business, Mr. Dominic Gaskin was also present along with members of the Diplomatic Corps and representatives from the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Guyana Forestry Commission.

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