Statement by the Honourable Collin Croal, MP, Minister of Housing and Water at the High-Level Meeting on the Implementation of the New Urban Agenda, April 28, 2022

Mr. President,

Guyana welcomes the convening of this High-Level Meeting on the Implementation of the New Urban Agenda, in light of the importance that my government attaches to sustainable urbanization. Our approach to urbanization impacts the quality of life of our citizens and has implications for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Therefore, we must be deliberate and ensure that our approach does not impede but enhances development.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus some of the critical imperatives for good urbanization management, including urban planning and design, adequate housing, and sustainable neighbourhoods. As detailed in the Secretary General’s report on the New Urban Agenda, the absence of these important elements could result in the reversal of development gains and push more people into poverty.

In Guyana, our studied approach to urbanization is yielding benefits. Over the last two decades, Guyana has seen a continuous reduction in the ratio of the urban population to the total population. This is due in part to the implementation of an ambitious country-wide housing programme, premised on a number of key actions, including countrywide distribution of house lots, the development of new housing schemes and improving access to finance for low-income earners.

These targeted actions are backed by significant fiscal support by government and are guided by a manual for housing that emphasizes the three dimensions of sustainable development. Consequently, Guyana witnessed a reduction in rural-urban migration and accelerated development in rural areas.

Our Government is focused on further transforming Guyana, through the application of globally established principles of sustainable development. Our Low Carbon Development Strategy 2030 elaborates priorities to stimulate growth in a sustainable manner.  This includes implementing Sustainable Planning and Urban Development policies that address some of the challenges in  urban areas, including improper solid waste disposal, flooding and inefficient modes of transit.

Since our capital city, Georgetown, is located below sea level, we are establishing a new city called Silica City, in an area that will not be vulnerable to the threats faced by Georgetown. This will serve as a progressive model for other similar developments.

In conclusion, Guyana underscores the need for adequate financing for the full implementation of the New Urban Agenda, including through international partnerships.

We affirm our commitment to the objectives of the New Urban Agenda and to maintaining a constructive and innovative approach to issues of urbanization.

I thank you.