Guyana’s Indigenous Peoples have “equal and relevant” role on ‘One Guyana’ development path – Min. Sukhai tells 16th Session of EMRIP 

The 16th Session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) is being held at the United Nations, Genève, Switzerland. The session is being held from July 17, 2023.

The Honourable Pauline Sukhai, Minister of Amerindian Affairs and Ms Miriam Andrew-Ming, Legal Officer, are participating in the activities of the Session.

Honourable Pauline Sukhai, Minister of Amerindian Affairs

On Tuesday, July 18, 2023, Honourable Pauline Sukhai, MP delivered a statement on Item 5 of the agenda “Interactive Dialogue with the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development”.

Below is the statement delivered:

Building a ‘One Guyana’, the brainchild of His Excellency President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, places Guyana on an aggressive path of inclusive, equitable and sustainable development. The Amerindians, Guyana’s Indigenous Peoples, have an equal and relevant place on this path. Given the historical and geographical challenges that the Indigenous peoples have faced, the Government of Guyana has remained committed to removing any existing gaps through the promotion of policies and decisions to promote Indigenous Peoples’ rights.

Cognizant of the outsized role of Indigenous peoples worldwide in the protection of the forest and its resources, it was only appropriate that the government recognize our Amerindians for their contribution. Subsequently, it is essential to highlight to this Session one of our groundbreaking national development strategies, our Low Carbon Development Strategy which seeks to transform the economy while combating climate change.

Guyana maintains the second highest percentage of forest cover in the world and is part of the carbon market. Fifteen percent (15%) of all revenues earned from our sale of carbon credits has been allocated to our Indigenous communities to be expended through Village Sustainable Plans which are approved by the Indigenous peoples and represents an addition to Government sectoral investments.

This policy is the outcome of nationwide consultations which included the full engagement with the Indigenous peoples and endorsed by the duly elected body of Indigenous Leaders in Guyana, the National Toshaos’ Council, a direct adherence to FPIC.

Honourable Pauline Sukhai, Minister of Amerindian Affairs

Guyana continues to prioritize Indigenous Peoples development through the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs currently being held under my portfolio, which provides direct investment to Indigenous Villages and Communities to be utilized in a manner that has been determined by the people. This is done through the provision of ‘Presidential Grants’ & investments funds which are utilized for infrastructure, social or economic projects within Villages; capital investment which enhance long term benefits propelling Village economy and infrastructure development to ensure access to amenities and markets, securing land tenure, food security, income generation and employment and Indigenous Peoples’ sustainable livelihoods.

In addition, the Government embarks on annual capacity building programs to enhance skills and knowledge of Indigenous leaders and Youths specifically through scholarship programs, our novel Youth Entrepreneurship and Apprenticeship Program as well as Leadership and Governance Training.

These are all cumulative efforts by the Government in partnership with indigenous peoples to ensuring not only the promotion of Indigenous Peoples’ right to development but ensuring that their development is informed by their decisions.