Land degradation programme could drive transition to green economy –Minister Harmon

GINA, GUYANA, Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Guyana Lands and Survey Commission (GLSC) hosted an inception workshop today, with key stakeholders to introduce the UN’s Convention to Combat Desertification’s (UNCCD) Land Degradation Neutrality Target Setting Programme (LDNTSP) at the Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown.

Stakeholders at the GLSC workshop

The LDNTSP process provides opportunities for good environmental stewardship and drives the transition to a green economy, Minister of State Joseph Harmon stated in his feature address during the opening of the workshop.

The Minister noted that while Guyana is not one of the countries where desertification is a critical issue, the government is keenly aware of the need to combat the phenomenon and all other forms of land degradation.

“We have to adopt a proactive programme instead of a treatment approach. Our small population relative to land space and the concentration of our population on our narrow coastal lands afford us a unique opportunity to pursue land management and development including land degradation neutrality in ways that will ensure sustainability of our resources,” Minister Harmon said.

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon

The workshop focused on three areas:  introducing the UNCCD’s LDNTSP, providing opportunity for the participants to review the purpose, goals methodologies and timeliness for the national LDNTSP, ensuring the cooperation of stakeholders’ concerns before final implementation and to build support for the national LDNTSP and subsequent implementation.

Land degradation, a global phenomenon, leads to the reduction and loss of biological and economic productive capacity of lands. It is caused by human activities and exacerbated by natural processes, and in some cases, magnified by climate change and biodiversity loss.

Minister Harmon noted that Guyana’s proactive measures are part of fulfilling its international commitment to a healthy global environment while pursuing a green agenda and economy. “For our people in this regard, sustainable land management and development including issues relating to land degradation are of vital importance,” the Minister said.

The Minister added that today’s workshop was another important step in the support of the establishment of the green agenda and economy.

Stakeholders at the workshop were briefed by the former National Focal Point for the UNCCD of Grenada and the Coordinator for Partnership Initiative for Sustainable Land Management (PISLM) Raymond Baptiste.

Commissioner of Guyana Lands and Survey Commission, Trevor Benn

Commissioner of the GLSC and National Focal Point for the UNCCD Trevor Benn explained that key land degradation issues in Guyana include incidences of floods, droughts, salt water intrusion in agricultural areas and natural resource utilisation in the mining forestry and land sectors.

“The LDNTSP would provide the country framework for a timely monitoring management and reporting on land degradation, land reclamation and sustainable land management,” Commissioner Benn noted.

Guyana opted into the LDNTSP in April last. The process is intended to be aligned with the Sustainable Development Goal 15: life, land and the target 15.3 which seeks to combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil including land affected by desertification, droughts and floods and strive to achieve a land degradation neutral work by 2030.

As Commissioner Benn said, the GLSC will be seeking to strengthen relevant existing laws and to recommend the creation of new ones where they do not exist. “This, together with the implementation of the national action plan to combat land degradation, will provide us with the necessary tools to aid us in this process,” Benn added.

Guyana ratified the UNCCD and acceded to it on June 26, 1997 and effectively became a member on September 24, 1997. The UNCCD supports the development and implementation of national and regional policies, programmes and measures to prevent, control and reverse desertification land degradation and mitigate the effects of drought.

Guyana has met all its obligations under the Convention, Minister Harmon pointed out. Guyana will be represented at the 13th session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention in China scheduled for the last quarter of 2017, and is expected to host the 16th session sometime in 2018.

By: Tiffny Rhodius