‘Regional approach needed to tackle land issues’

-Minister of State says at UNCCD capacity building workshop

Georgetown, Guyana — (October 15, 2018) There is need for the Caribbean to have a unified approach to tackling land issues in the Region, Minister of State Mr. Joseph Harmon said this morning at the opening of a capacity building workshop for Negotiating within the Organs of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

The Minister of State reminded participants of the two-day workshop being held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, that the workshop is geared at preparing the Caribbean’s UNCCD Focal Points for a Partnership Initiative for Sustainable Land Management (PISLM) High Level meeting; the agenda of which is to be set.

“I am sensing a tide of change that is taking place now in the world…The Caribbean is no longer just a place that people come for sun and sea and the beach. They understand that the Caribbean is an important player in world politics and in the decisions which are made at an international level. Land is a very important matter and it is a very important political matter. So, it behoves any sensible Government to address issues of land in a holistic way… It is important… the level of coordination [throughout] the Caribbean… that we take a hold of it,” the State Minister said.

The workshop which is being conducted by the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC) will see the Caribbean’s position at the upcoming Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC) being outlined.

At the end of the two-day workshop an agenda for Sustainable Land Management (SLM) is expected to be put in place to better position the Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) as a global leader in meeting its obligations in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15.

“In the next two days the Ministers will meet to further deliberate on and consider deliverables that will emerge from this workshop. This will guide us as we seek to make final decisions on strengthening the position of Sub-Regional Land Management agenda, tabling the Caribbean vision for SLM, setting PISLM’s agenda for the next two years and setting a common position for CRIC 17 and the Committee on Science and Technology (CST 17) in Guyana in January 2019,” said Minister Harmon.

The Minister of State said the workshop creates an opportunity to strengthen our negotiation skills within the organs of the UNCCD and as such urged all participants to fully engage in this process, since their participation will aid in the strengthening of Caribbean SIDS leveraging capabilities for the mobilization of resources.

Guyana will be hosting of the 17th Session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC17). The hosting of the CRIC 17 creates an opportunity for Caribbean SIDS to collaborate and showcase best practices under a common accord.

Meanwhile, Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GLSC, Mr. Trevor Benn, who is also Chair of the 4th Task Force (2017-2019) of the Partnership Initiative for Sustainable Land Management (PISLM), urged the UNCCD focal points to pay keen attention to the workshop, it provides an opportunity for them to increase their knowledge relative to negotiating within the bodies of the UNCCD.

“I urge you to use this opportunity to ask as many questions as possible, to understand the role of each of us going forward,” said Mr. Benn.  The UNCCD provides the global framework for addressing land degradation and SLM issues in SIDS.

Further, Programme Officer for Capacity Building at the UNCCD, Mr. Richard Byron-Cox thanked the Minister of State for his hands-on approach to the resolution of land issues in the Caribbean.

“The Minister is here showing his commitment to this and we need to convince him, he needs to know that this technical part is so important to our people… I hope that the Minister would continue to support PSILM as regards this training if we are to be effective out there,” said Mr. Byron-Cox.

The two-day workshop is aimed at confirming and setting PISLM policy agenda for the next two years, confirming and setting a common position for the 17th Sessions of the CRIC 17 and the CST 17 to be held in Guyana in January, 2019.

UNCCD representatives of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago are also participating in the workshop.

Presentations from representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the University of the West Indies (UWI), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) also form part of the workshop.