Guyana on path to achieving UN SDGs: ‘We are much better off now than when we started out’ – Min. Edghill
Guyanese are continuously benefitting from a slew of targeted initiatives implemented by government that have transformed their lives.
These strategically crafted policies and projects, are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Speaking at a SDG consultation in St. Ignatius, Region Nine, Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, noted that the engagement is warranted as Guyana will be making a presentation at the Voluntary National Review at the UN General Assembly.
The report will detail the implementation of the SDGs and the likelihood of achieving them by 2030.
“We not only want the desk report, we want to ensure we get the benefit of community input,” Dr Singh said.
Amerindian Affairs Minister, Pauline Sukhai, underscored that the government programmes are benefitting all Guyanese.
“We are building a country where it will benefit all and where all will feel included. Guyana is the only country in the world where indigenous leaders can sit with the executive of government for an entire week, discussing development plans and visions,” she posited.
Meanwhile, Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill, said government has been aggressively working to achieve the SDGs in the area of infrastructural development.
“We are a government that cares for its indigenous peoples and is following the SDGs. We are a government that is opening access to the indigenous communities. When we have proper roads, healthcare can get to you at a faster rate and education can get to you at a faster rate,” he noted.
The consultation was focused on five of the UN SDGs;
SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation
The goal aims to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Guyana has earmarked $17.7 billion in Budget 2023, to improve water quality.
So far, there is 75 per cent access to potable water in hinterland and riverain communities, a significant improvement from 46 per cent access in 2019. By 2025, there will be 100 per cent access to treated water in the hinterland and riverain communities.
Some 50 wells will be drilled from Regions One to Nine, with the latter receiving 23.
Government had allocated $650 million to Region Nine, to improve water services.
On the solid waste front, $1.9 billion was allocated to support infrastructural development, the operation of existing and additional landfill sites and for its solid waste clean-up programme.
Currently, there is 86 per cent access to improved sanitation facility.
SDG 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy
This goal aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.
Guyana has embarked on an ambitious energy transition, while utilising green methods to achieve energy security. This transition from fossil fuels is heavily reliant on renewable energy sources like; solar, wind, biomass, and hydropower.
A huge chunk of Budget 2023, $43.3 billion, went towards the construction of a natural gas power plant, within the Wales Development Zone, West Bank Demerara.
This mega project will slash emissions by 70 per cent, drastically reducing the cost of energy and the household and commercial electricity bills. The aim is by 2041, to decrease significantly, Guyana’s dependency on heavy fuel oil.
On August 5, Lethem received the first mega solar farm in Guyana.
SDG 9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
Guyana’s transport expansion is supported with a $136.1 billion allocation in 2023, for roads and bridges countrywide.
Key infrastructural developments in Guyana include the new Demerara River Crossing, Corentyne Bridge that links Guyana with Suriname, Linden to Mabura Hill all weather-road, construction of 48 bridges from Linden to Lethem, upgrades to a number of hinterland airstrips, East Bank to East Coast bypass highway among a plethora of other major projects.
Further, as Guyana seeks to enhance its national research capability and mobile connectivity, 4000 laptops will be distributed, while 200 ICT hubs will soon be completed in hinterland poor and remote communities.
Additionally, the Belvedere Business Incubator and the Lethem Business Incubator were implemented, to enhance value added production.
In 2021, Guyana introduced the “Made in Guyana” stamp to complement other interventions to support small-scale industries.
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
Government has committed to ensuring Guyanese are empowered through homeownership. As such, $54.5 billion has been set aside in Budget 2023 to ensure Guyanese can live in safe spaces. This is part of fulfilling its manifesto promise of providing 50,000 house lots by 2025.
In the hinterland, 15 per cent of the sale of Guyana’s carbon credits is dedicated to Amerindian villages for sustainable development projects.
A whopping $500 million was allocated towards advancing Amerindian Land Titling activities.
Urban development such as Silica City is also being progressively pursued.
In Region Nine, 900 houses are being built in a structured manner, with 80 persons already benefitting from government subsidies for steel and cement.
Telemedicine centres have also been launched in Region Nine, giving patients the opportunity to interact and be diagnosed by specialist doctors in the city.
Smart hospitals have been constructed while government remains diligent in its mission of eliminating neglected diseases such as filaria and malaria.
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the Goals
This is where countries partner to ensure the other goals are achieved.
In 1970, the UN set a target for developed countries to fund no less than 0.75 per cent of the Gross National Income to developing countries, to aid in the achievement of the SDGs.
Minister Singh reported that only five developed countries have been fulfilling the commitment.
“The international community has failed to deliver on longstanding obligations that they adopted in relation to mobilisation support. Guyana’s position, as it relates to SDG 17, is that we will continue to call on the international community to deliver on its longstanding commitments, that they have failed to deliver.”
Even as government called for international support for Caribbean states, Guyana has been reducing debts and borrowing more prudently.
Guyana has come a far way in achieving the UN SDGs. The updated Low Carbon Development Strategy, (LCDS 2030) , is key to achieving the goals.