Response to climate change requires action from both Public and Private Sectors – Min Harmon

DPI, GUYANA, Thursday, August 24, 2017

“Climate change is an existential threat to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and developing countries, such as Guyana, and it undermines our sustainable development.  While our emission of greenhouse gases (GHGS) is miniscule, when compared to major emitters, we are disproportionately affected from the impacts of climate change”.

Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon.

This was stated by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon at the recent Caribbean GreenTech Startup Bootcamp; a collaboration between the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre (CCIC) and the Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED) at the Tower Suites Guyana Incorporated, Main Street, Georgetown.

According to the minister the objective of the CCIC is to support entrepreneurs in the development of climate mitigation and adaptation solutions and the bootcamp’s focal sectors of resource efficiency, water management, sustainable agribusiness, solar energy and energy efficiency, are all aligned with our government´s vision of becoming a Green State.

The programme trained several startup and existing businesses in Guyana to seize the opportunities in green technology and innovation.

Minister Harmon noted that Guyana is projected to experience rising sea levels, increasing air and surface temperatures and changing rainfall patterns.  He said that the impact of climate change has implications for coastal settlements and livelihoods, infrastructure and ecosystems health which has a direct bearing on economic growth and development.

The Minister of State noted that adaptation requires reversing the effects of Climate Change and stakeholders should take appropriate action to prevent or minimise the damage they can cause, or “take advantage of opportunities that may arise. These climate change challenges, must be viewed as opportunities for innovation”.

In his review of 2017 Minister Harmon, indicated that Guyana has experienced three major floods due to varying weather patterns which significantly affected communities and livelihoods across Guyana, especially in Region Six East Berbice/Corentyne, Region Eight Potaro/Siparuni and Region Nine Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo.

He elaborated that such occurrences are likely to increase and Guyana must respond through the crafting and implementation of requisite policies, strategies and plans for Climate Change mitigation, adaptation and resilience building, taking into consideration our particular circumstances.

“For example, how do we address the issue of water availability for household use and farming in periods of drought; how do we continue food production in periods of flood or when the ground is saturated; what is the solution to keeping cool at home and in schools and offices as temperatures increase without increasing our energy bill and ensuring we maintain a healthy environment; how do ensure our infrastructure (roads, schools etcetera), is not destroyed during extreme weather events?”, Minister Harmon said.

Minister Harmon explained that some solutions may require introduction to new technologies; a return to traditional practices; or the adoption of new development models.  He noted that it is for this reason, that the Government of Guyana has articulated its vision to become a Green State, in keeping with the principles of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and a circular economy model, coupled with eco-innovation.

“Circular economy is a departure from the linear model of “take”, “make” and “dispose”, in which we keep resources for as long as possible, extract minimum value from them whilst in use and then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life. It is about turning waste into a resource through eco-innovation by reducing environmental impact and making better use of our resources. This means developing products, techniques, services and processes to reduce carbon dioxide emissions; use resources efficiently; and promoting recycling etcetera.” Harmon said.

Importantly, Minister Harmon said “resource efficiency is about how we can live healthier lives, save money, create jobs, boost our economy and respect the limits of our planet, it is the basic principle that underpins the entire circular economy strategy; it is fundamental to green growth and should be applied to every step of the product life cycle.”

The Minister of State said these principles are now being considered as part of the third industrial revolution with sustainability at the centre and fossil dependent technologies being replaced by greener solutions, with infrastructure building and transportation systems being improved to be more climate resilient and linear resource flows of input, process and waste being replaced by cyclical flows, which are more respectful to natural resources and climate impact.

It is therefore expected that these challenges would have inspired participants of this CCIC Bootcamp, to provide innovative and sustainable business solutions that will lead to the mitigation and adaptation to Climate Change in Guyana.


By: Gabreila Patram