“New world coalition” could bring balance on issues affecting developing countries – President Ali
His Excellency Dr Irfaan Ali said now is an opportune time for a “new world coalition” to bring balance to the international debate around the issue of climate change, food security, and energy security.
The Head of State, who delivered the feature address at the opening of the International Energy Conference and Expo Guyana 2023 at the Marriott Hotel Tuesday, spoke of the inequalities that hinder the growth of developing nations and the double standards that exist.
These challenges, the President stressed, should not be confronted in isolation.
“How can we lead a new world effort in building a coalition that addresses these three challenges that the world we live in will face, is facing, and will face in a more severe manner?”
He urged the audience to consider the realistic positioning of issues as it relates to global CO2 emissions, based on data which shows that South America, Central America and the Caribbean combined, account for just 3.6% of emissions.
“Why aren’t the headlines about the ten largest economies that account for 62.7% of CO2? Why suddenly the 3.6% bears the brunt of the headline? But we have in our societies, and in our region, people who consider themselves self-righteous, but do not base their argument on the facts and the circumstances, but they appeal to the emotive being of people.”
The Head of State underscored the importance of developing countries putting systems in place to ensure that they can continue to progress under changing circumstances.
As a Region, the President said there should be a collective approach to overall development.
He highlighted the drive of CARICOM and its food security measure, which Guyana is spearheading, while he also spoke of other regional opportunities, including the longevity of electricity from natural gas in Guyana, Trinidad and Suriname and the energy corridor between Guyana, Roraima (Brazil) and Suriname.
LOW CARBON DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
Although the country is an oil-producing nation, President Ali reminded that systems are still in place to decarbonise in the future.
He said Guyana demonstrated global leadership on how natural resources can be sustainably harnessed more than a decade ago. He cited the country’s Low Carbon Development Strategy 2030, as a main action in its “development platform”, while explaining about how it was enhanced to ensure that Guyana stays “true to morals and principles when it comes to the issue of climate change”.
‘The LCDS is no longer a Guyana document. We are embarking on a mission to make the LCDS a global model for sustainable development because we know what LCDS is capable of.”
He also spoke about the country’s drive to protect its forest and to play its part to not only achieve net zero but being carbon negative.
The President reminded that oil and gas is geared to help the country develop its other sectors.
“We’ve consistently said oil and gas is not the answer. What it does is give us much-needed revenue to catalyse the other sectors, to incentivise the other sectors to make them competitive globally, to create a framework that will allow these sectors to grow and expand and to contribute to national development. That is what it does for us.”
The focus of the next seven years, he added, will be placed on building a country that has the competitive characteristics and the broadness in scope to be viable, resilient and sustainable in a world 2030 and beyond.
Oil and gas and proper policies have ensured that Guyana has an investment portfolio that spans many partners, including the US, UK, China, India and a number of other countries.
“All of them are part of financing transformative projects in Guyana. The investors’ confidence in the country is very high, and it’s high because there is the predictability of policy. It is high because there’s a clear path that we’re taking to national development. It is high because there’s a clear strategy as to what we’re doing and how we’re doing it and positioning Guyana.”
The President pointed to the agricultural drive of the country and said that investments in agriculture have enormous potential in Guyana.
“The CARICOM market alone is tens of millions of US dollars in a market that is absolutely accessible to you. We are creating the incentives, the investment vehicle. We’re working on ways in which we can make the cost of capital lower.”
He noted that just two and a half years ago, Guyana’s only option was to import corn and soya for animal feed.
“We set ourselves a target of becoming self-sufficient in five years. Not only are we well on our way to becoming self-sufficient, but we might be in a position to export to the region for the first time. We are not talking about food security in an idle manner.”
The President also spoke about the country’s housing programme, which “per capita is one of the strongest” in the region.
He said that while demand has increased, the lending rate has decreased by two percentage points in two years. This is in contrast to the global lending rate for housing.
Guyana’s drive to enhance other aspects of its development was also highlighted.
“We have to make decisions based on the realities that we’re faced with, ensuring that the people in this country have the best possible social services, the social safety nets are there to secure the vulnerable, best world-class education, world-class health services, world-class infrastructure, an economy that stands on many different footings, positioning Guyana to be a global leader on food security, a global leader on climate services, a global leader in energy. That is where we’re taking Guyana in an economy 2030 and beyond.”
Several visiting leaders also spoke at the opening ceremony, including the Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, the Honourable Dr Keith Rowley; the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Honourable Dr Ralph Gonsalves; the President of the Republic of Suriname, HE Chandrikapersad Santokhi (virtual) and former President of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez.
The Energy Conference and Expo 2023 will run until Friday, February 17, at the Guyana Marriott Hotel.