Prime Minister Unveils $60M Mangrove Centre at NAREI

Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d), the Honourable Mark Phillips, underscored Guyana’s unwavering commitment to prioritising mangrove restoration in national climate change and coastal management strategies during the launch of the groundbreaking $60 million Mangrove Centre located at the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) in Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara.

During his address at the Centre’s opening on Friday, Prime Minister Phillips emphasised the importance of Guyana’s mangroves as a global asset. He highlighted its role in mitigating climate change, securing coastal areas, creating economic opportunities, and supporting biodiversity.

“Guyana’s mangroves are a global asset. Mangroves, with their unique ecosystem and unparalleled ecological significance, play a vital role in mitigating climate change… By conserving and protecting our mangroves, we actively contribute to global efforts, striving to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Highlighting the vulnerability of Guyana’s low-lying coastline, the Prime Minister stressed the need for a dual strategy using natural mangroves and engineered sea defences to enhance climate resilience.

“This green-grey infrastructure approach to securing our coastline by combining hard ‘engineered’ sea defences with the restoration, conservation, and management of mangroves is a strategy that provides climate resilience for vulnerable coastal communities.”

The Prime Minister highlighted Guyana’s proactive restoration of over 500 hectares of mangroves across various regions. He also spotlighted the historic sale of carbon credits through ART TREES, underscoring the government’s recognition of the importance of forests, adding that mangroves, valued at least US$1.6 billion annually, will be explored further through LCDS 2030, with the Mangrove Center as a hub for advancing knowledge.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Phillips announced that “investments will be made to train and support the establishment of sustainable businesses.”

He explained that the first initiative involves expanding beekeeping in mangroves through a partnership with Cuban beekeeping experts and GLDA, contributing to the scaling up of Guyana’s honey production.

According to the Prime Minister, as the natural regeneration of mangroves transforms the seawall along the Georgetown coastline, the Government of Guyana, through the Mangrove Management Action Network, which is expected to be launched soon, will integrate mangroves into the landscape, ensuring recreational space for all Guyanese.

Prime Minister Phillips also used the opportunity to acknowledge the partnerships that have been instrumental in achieving goals for a sustainable and resilient mangrove ecosystem.

 He credited Iwokrama and Exxon Foundation for their collaboration in delivering the first-of-its-kind Mangrove Center. Additionally, he mentioned that partnerships with the European Union, Conservation International-Guyana, the University of Guyana, and USAID have been supporting their efforts to improve monitoring capacity, design interventions, and conduct valuable research to understand the dynamic coastline of Guyana.

Additionally, recognising the role of every citizen, he urged all Guyanese to champion the preservation of these invaluable ecosystems.

“As we inaugurate the Mangrove Centre, a symbol of our commitment to environmental stewardship, I call upon every Guyanese to take pride in preserving these invaluable ecosystems. Together, let us ensure a legacy of environmental harmony and prosperity for generations to come.”

This initiative forms part of a collaboration with the Guyana Conservation Initiative (GCI), facilitated by Iwokrama and funded by the ExxonMobil Foundation.