Guyana made ‘considerable’ progress towards Agenda 2030 – UN High-Level Forum hears
– Min. Singh calls for more financing to achieve 2030 SDGs
Despite the many challenges including the standstill following the March 2, 2020, general and regional elections, the COVID-19 pandemic and severe flooding in 2021, Guyana has managed to make ‘considerable’ progress towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outlined in the United Nations Agenda 2030.
Since the country’s first voluntary national review (VNR) in 2019, Guyana confronted challenges both domestically and globally; however, strategic measures implemented by the government since August 2020 led to recovery.
This was relayed by Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh to the United Nations (UN) 2023 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development at its headquarters in New York on Monday.
He was presenting Guyana’s second VNR on sustainable development under the theme ‘One Guyana. Achieving Low Carbon Sustainable Development for All’.
According to Dr. Singh, the theme reflects the alignment of Guyana’s National Development Strategy, the Low Carbon Development Strategy 2030 with the UN’s Agenda 2030 and benefitted from inclusive consultations.
Guyana, the senior minister said has made gains relating to Goal 6 – clean water and sanitation, 7 – affordable and clean energy, 9 – industry, innovation and infrastructure, 11 – sustainable cities and communities, and 17 – partnerships for the Goals.
“Overall, we have managed to improve data collection within these goals for tracking progress and the achievements reflected are as a result of deliberate policy and programme interventions that are focused on accelerating development to ensure gains are made for all Guyanese,” the minister explained.
Over 30,000 persons residing in the hinterland have access to potable water supply for the first time as the government has taken steps to improve the availability and management of water through investments in infrastructure and equipment.
“This has increased the proportion of hinterland population with access to safe water supply from 33.8 per cent in 2019 to 75 per cent as at the end of 2022. Additionally, in order to ensure affordability to the most vulnerable, we’ve removed the water tariff on the first 10 cubic metres of water per month consumed by 28,000 senior citizens, removed the value-added tax on water charges and reduced water tariffs across the board, thereby befitting over 175,000 customers.”
Under Goal 7, investments have been made to develop solar farms and hydropower facilities. Also, work has commenced on the 300 megawatts of new power generation capability which is harnessing the country’s oil and gas resources.
This investment will reduce the cost of electricity for the population by 50 per cent by the year 2025. Additionally, investments are being proposed to construct a 165-megawatt hydroelectric plant in Guyana.
“A new solar home energy programme aims to reach the remotest areas of the hinterland by providing energy in poor communities, access to clean technologies, which will benefit over 245 communities or 30,000 households in Guyana’s hinterland,” Dr. Singhfurther highlighted.
In relation to Goal 9, major investments are being made to bridge the infrastructure gap by developing new and expanded networks and new highways, bridges and ocean-going vessels have increased capacity to provide transportation for the population.
“Additionally, business incubators and business process outsourcing have seen greater employment of women over recent years,” the minister disclosed.
Massive investments are being made to provide 50,000 house lots to the population by 2025, in an effort to increase the housing stock. Already, over 24,000 house lots have been allocated to low-income and middle-income families.
The young professional housing programme has also increased access to housing for the younger population. It is important to note, that in 2022, 45 per cent of house lots allocated were given to women, an increase from 40 per cent in 2021.
Measures have also been implemented to reduce the cost of homeownership in Guyana, specifically for first-time homeowners. This aligns with Goal 11 – sustainable cities and communities.
“Having already integrated the SDGs into the National Budget process, going forward from this VNR, our government will be pursuing substantial investments in essential infrastructure and public services. However, the scale of investment needed is costly … thus, these actions will be complemented by the government’s deliberate and consistent advocacy for increased volumes of affordable financing to fund the critical initiatives essential to meeting Agenda 2030,” Dr. Singh emphasised.