US$2.4M project, research and drafting of GSDS for 2018 – Dept. of the Environment

DPI, GUYANA, Monday, January 22, 2018

Head of the Department of the Environment (DoE), Ndibi Schwiers, today at her department’s annual sector review, announced that a $2.4M US “Strengthening Technical Capacities to mainstream and monitor the RIO Convention through policy coordination” project 2016-2020, is being undertaken in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Hon. Joseph Harmon, Minister of State.

To this end, several workshops and awareness sessions have been successfully conducted resulting in the participation of over 400 participants from Government agencies and the private sector.

Thus far, the DoE has been able to recruit its full complement of local consultants to kick-start this year’s work programme.

Schwiers said the big task for the entity, which was established in 2016, was the filling of staff vacancies to ensure that the right skills are available for the effective execution of its duty of coordinating and integrating the country’s environmental mandate, as well as lead Government efforts in relation to the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS).

The GSDS will be the country’s third national development strategy and is intended to guide national development in all sectors. The DoE, Schwiers noted, is working with UN Environment which is Guyana’s partner in developing the strategy.

Providing an update on the progress of the GSDS’ development, the Department Head noted that several rounds of consultations have been hosted across the country and the Department has been successful in starting what has been dubbed as “green conversations,” which are intended to fill the awareness gap.

“One of the things we have realised it is easy to develop a strategy… we can sit in our offices and write but that won’t be the best thing to do. What we have realised, is that this strategy needs to be developed at various levels and one of the things would be to have consultations and ensure that there is a certain level of awareness.”

The Coordination Desk of the DoE is working along with the Ministries of Communities and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs to create a consultation plan. The next steps, according to Schwiers, would be research and drafting of the document.

To do this, the Department has developed seven thematic groups which coincide with the seven thematic areas of the GSDS. The University of Guyana is also playing an instrumental role in this process as its representatives are tasked with identifying seven thematic experts, who will assist the thematic groups in drafting various thematic elements of the GSDS.

Schwiers informed that a meeting of the Advisory Group of the GSDS, which consists of the Chairs and Co-chairs of the seven thematic areas, is scheduled for January 25, 2018, to facilitate further discussions.

Ndibi Schwiers, Head of the Department of the Environment.

The DoE will also be focusing this year on an in-depth programme review of the EPA, harmonising environmental management countrywide and development of its strategic plan.

The job of the Department, Schwiers assured, is not to usurp the functions of the four agencies under its purview, which are the National Parks Commission, the Protected Areas Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Guyana Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission, but to support them.

In this vein, State Minister, Joseph Harmon urged Heads of the respective agencies to focus on their objectives for 2018 and how they can adequately execute them placing greater emphasis on inter-agency support and collaborations.

The fact that this Administration has been laying Budgets in the National Assembly the year before their expenditure, Minister Harmon said agencies were given the opportunity to prepare their sectoral plans in advance, thus it is customary now for execution of work programmes to begin from January 1 of the new year.

Heads of agencies were commended for their efficiency in completing projects despite having to stick to stringent budgets.

They were urged to examine those “factors that impact on the work we have to do as a sector… I believe we are more in the regulatory framework than any other department because whatever happens in the environment if something goes wrong, we are the ones that people will look to.”

Responding to the challenges faced by the various agencies, Minister Harmon assured that in those areas that require it, an immediate intervention will be made.

Minister Harmon urged them to bring matters to his attention as they arise to ensure timely resolution which will allow for the efficient functioning of all the entities.

 

By: Stacy Carmichael

 

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