Guyana, first in Latin America and Caribbean to implement cutting-edge technologies for remote real-time monitoring of environmental change, impacts offshore and onshore

In a simple but important ceremony hosted at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) headquarters in Georgetown, the Government of Guyana (GoG) officially launched its partnership with MAXAR Technologies – a leading space technology and intelligence company.

The partnership is by way of a three-year contract, valued at US $547,000 made possible with support from the World Bank and the US Embassy and will see the provision of remote real-time satellite services to the Environmental Protection Agency, significantly boosting its capabilities to monitor and keep its ‘eyes’ on all activities including petroleum offshore operations, mining, forestry and other activities. 

Pictured from left: Mr. Omkar Lochan – Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Natural Resources, Natalia Garzon – MAXAR Technologies, Minister Vickram Bharrat – Ministry of Natural Resources, Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch – US Ambassador to Guyana, Mr. Kemraj Parsram – Executive Director, EPA, Ms. Diletta Doretti – World Bank’s Resident Coordinator to Guyana and Suriname, Mr. Brian Hall – Political and Economic Advisor, US Embassy and Dr. Desmond Sears – EPA Board Member.

Delivering remarks at the ceremony were Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. Vickram Bharrat, Her Excellency Sarah-Ann Lynch, US Ambassador to Guyana, Ms. Diletta Doretti, World Bank’s Resident Coordinator to Guyana and Suriname and EPA’s Executive Director, Kemraj Parsram.

 Ms Doretti of the World Bank, expressed that the realisation of the agreement was a good example of the value of strong partnership. Similar sentiments were expressed by her Excellency Sarah Lynch, who also lauded the hard work of the teams from the US Embassy, World Bank, Ministry of Natural Resources and EPA towards realising the agreement.

In his remarks, Minister Bharrat noted the value of the partnership to our country’s needs at this time, as it continues to balance its economic and sustainable development.  The minister further explained that the agreement includes provisions that will allow the Guyana Forestry Commission to utilise MAXAR’s technology to combat illegal deforestation, preserve mangroves, and protect the Guyana’s rich biodiversity. These objectives the Minister said are key tenets of Guyana’s low-carbon development trajectory.

EPA’s Executive Director, Kemraj Parsram, in his remarks informed that in 2022, the EPA made significant strides in strengthening its capabilities towards it mandate and stated that, “Our vision is to be a modern, effective regulator that leverages the latest technology and science to support the fulfillment of our mandate of protecting the environment and ensuring sustainable use of our natural resources – we have dubbed this as Next Generation Compliance”

Mr Parsram informed that the EPA has embarked on a path of utilising advanced and cutting-edge technology, such as, artificial intelligence, electronic reporting and data analytics, state of the art pollution monitoring equipment and IoT (air quality, water quality sensors and drones), satellite/remote sensing and real time alerts from services such as MAXAR technologies. This approach, he said, strengthens and supports EPA’s capacity and manpower to conduct physical in-person inspections and monitoring and positions it as a leader in remote real-time environmental monitoring, environmental regulation and protection in Guyana and the Region.  

Parsram shared that, “We at the EPA have no doubt that with the current unprecedented development in Guyana, regulating effectively and ensuring protection of the environment and sustainable use of our natural resources remains critical and we must be innovative and strengthen our capacity in terms of human resources, sound science and innovative technologies.”

In closing his remarks, Mr Parsram acknowledged that, “We are not perfect and will continue to strive to be better and more effective and adopt emerging technologies and approaches, and strengthen our human resources, technical and legal capacity. We believe that one of the most effective ways of doing this is through continued partnerships and collaboration with all stakeholders.”

With MAXAR’s state-of-the-art cutting-edge technology, the EPA will be alerted in real-time to any changes in the environment. This technology will enhance the EPA’s capacity to regulate the oil and gas, mining and forestry sectors.

The agreement, will see the EPA receiving daily satellite imagery intakes across the country through the SecureWatch platform, Vessel Alerts through the Crow’s Nest Maritime solution, SAR Oil spill detection services and environmental change monitoring over areas of interest.

GoG-MAXAR partnership marks a significant milestone as it’s the first contract for the Crow’s Nest Solution in Latin America and the Caribbean and the first time it will be used for the important task of monitoring offshore oil operations. Notably, Guyana is the first country in Latin America to roll out a comprehensive suite of applications for oil spill response, deforestation management, illegal and under reported fishing and gold mining monitoring.

MAXAR’s geospatial data and analytics will aid Guyana to safeguard the environment for future generations while also promoting the sustainable development of its natural resources for long-term economic benefits. A key benefit of utilizing such technologies is that it is not dependent on a physical presence to monitor compliance. Nonetheless, the Agency still intends to continue physical inspection and monitoring of off-shore and on-shore operations.