Guyana Mission in Geneva Celebrates 50th Republic Anniversary

A photographic exhibition and a conversation on the Environment and Energy interface in Guyana were the main features of a well-attended reception held at the Guyana mission in Geneva celebrating Guyana’s 50th Anniversary of becoming a Republic. The photographic exhibition was linked to promoting Guyana as an eco-tourist destination and depicted scenes of Guyana’s biodiversity, flora and fauna, agriculture, historic buildings and lifestyle.

The conversation with the Guyana diaspora in Switzerland, CARICOM Missions and friends of Guyana featured the opportunities and challenges Guyana faces as it pursues simultaneously the development of its petroleum sector and its commitment to being a Green Economy reliant on renewable energy.

The Ambassador of Guyana to the United Nations Geneva Institutions and to Switzerland, John Deep Ford, welcomed the guests to the celebration and underlined the importance of the date and decision taken 50 years ago by the Guyana Government to become a Republic.  He indicated that the date commemorates the historic slave rebellion started in 1763 in the then colony of Berbice, led by our national hero, Cuffy against the Dutch,  represents a critical moment in the history of Guyana’s struggle against colonialism.  February 23, 1970, is the date that Guyana severed its final link with the colonial era and the symbol of foreign rule, becoming fully in charge of our destiny.

Guyana’s gift to the world in 1989 of almost one million acres of rainforest, the Iwokrama project, the low carbon development strategy developed in 2007, and the Green State Development strategy 2040 completed in 2019 were highlighted as testament to Guyana’s long commitment to sustainable development and a future based on renewable energy.

Guyana’s new opportunity with continued exploration and recently started production and export of oil and gas was seen as bringing a number of wonderful possibilities but also some risks. The dominant view in Guyana’s discourse was described as being one that calls for using the windfall gain to consolidate Guyana’s long term development goals and ensuring good governance and management of all Guyana’s resources to stave off the well-known perils of some oil economies.

The Ambassador of Norway, Dagfinn Sørli, shared lessons from Norway’s experience, emphasizing the important role of the Government in owning, regulating and transparently managing its energy resources. He indicated the importance of taxing private operators proportionately and continuously growing the sovereign wealth fund while using only some of the interest to generate long-term wealth for your country and benefit your entire society and citizenry.

The Ambassador of Guyana recognized Norway’s support for Guyana’s efforts over the past decade towards reducing deforestation and working towards sustainable development. The agreement between Guyana and Norway signed in 2009, was cited as one of the biggest forest conservation and sustainable development deals (US$250 million) ever signed up till then and was intended to “provide the world with a working example of how partnerships between developed and developing countries can save the world’s tropical forests”.

An important contribution to the evening was made by Guyanese Ms. Romain Williams, who recently graduated with a Master’s degree in Energy and Environmental Law from the University of Aberdeen. In her presentation,  she addressed the opportunities and the trade-offs between Energy and the Environment and emphasized the importance of regulations, stable institutions and enforcement mechanisms to ensure that Guyana minimizes the possibility of any environmental disasters and stays true to its commitment of pursuing sustainable development and being fully reliant on renewable energy in the future.

It was a successful evening celebrating and reflecting on Guyana’s 50th Anniversary of being a Republic.