President lauds Japan’s support to Guyana
..asks Ambassador to lobby leaders on REDD +
With Japan playing a major part in helping Guyana meet the challenges of providing safe drinking water and ensuring that the East Demerara Water Conservancy is functioning the way it should, Guyana has recognised this developmental partner contribution in the fight against climate change and its leaning on the eastern country’s influence for a good agreement in Cancun.
This was made clear during the commissioning ceremony of the Guyana Water Inc.’s water treatment plant at Queenstown, Corriverton. Japan’s Ambassador to Guyana, Tatsuaki Iwata, who is based in Venezuela, was in attendance, as were other officials from Japan.
Speaking at the commissioning, President Bharrat Jagdeo said that he had to be at the ceremony even if only to say ‘thank you’ to the people of Japan for the gift. He said Guyana and Japan share good, friendly relations.
He said Japan has played a role disproportionate to its size in the global arena “for which we are all extremely grateful.”
“Most of you would know that for the United Nations, Japan is one of the largest donors...to almost all the organs of the United Nations, far in excess of countries that are far larger,” he said.
Jagdeo spoke of the high hopes that Guyana had that Copenhagen agreement would have delivered binding targets on the developed world “that would have addressed the disbursement of resources to the developing world to address mitigation and adaptation and hopefully take the world off the catastrophic pathway that it is currently on.”
The President noted that the world is on a pathway to destruction. “Right now, based on the agreements that we have, we are on a pathway to a 5 degree rise in global temperature by 2050. [If this is so] you can very well have most of the forest in the world dead. A significant part of the crops that we grow, we won’t be able to grow them anymore: rice, sugar, because it would be too hot for them. We would have the polar caps melting so [this will mean] sea level rising, on a country like ours [the coast of which] is below sea level, would have major, major problems,” the President said.
He said that there will be variable extreme weather conditions “to which we have been subjected recently” that will exacerbate flooding and drought in countries “like ours” affecting agriculture. “So the human cost would be unimaginable...beyond our comprehension,” he said.
The President said that the costs to a country like Guyana would be way beyond what it could afford. “We would have to take money that we use for education and health to try to fix these things. That is why we put so much hope on a global agreement. Unfortunately that did not happen,” he said.
The Head of State said that one of the few positive things that came out of Copenhagen was an agreement to provide US$ 30 billion over three years as fast track funding to assist the developing world to adapt to climate change and for some mitigation action. “And of all the countries of the world, Japan has pledged US$11 billion of the US$30 billion, more than the United States of America or any other country in the world,” he said.
He said that the challenge now is to put in place a financial mechanism that would see these resources quickly intermediated to the developing world “and this is something that we hope we could get by Cancun.”
To the Japanese Ambassador, Jagdeo said, “We are hoping that you convey to your Government the strong need, not just of Guyana, but of the people of the developing nations, particularly in Caricom and in AOSIS, that Japan could play a leading role in ensuring that the money pledged just doesn’t sit there as would often happen, but that it is quickly intermediated to the developing world so that they can address some of their climate needs.”
The President said that Japan now shares the chairmanship of the Interim REDD plus Partnership with Papua New Guinea. “And REDD plus is vital for us because our Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) rests on that basis. We believe that through our forests, we can earn substantial sums of money. And then we can use this money for education, health, alternative types of employment, transformation of indigenous communities, hydro power, fibre-optic cables, fixing sea defence and the conservancies,” he said.
“So Japan now chairs that very vital group and they will have a critical role to play as we approach Cancun. We are hoping to leave Cancun with an agreement on REDD plus. [This is] not only good for the developing world, but the world at large, because about 20 percent of greenhouse gases emissions comes from destruction of forests; so if we could save those forests, it will not only save biodiversity, but also have a deep impact on climate change,” President Jagdeo said.
He expressed the hope that Japan could continue to play the leadership role it has been playing, “so that we can emerge from Cancun with a firm agreement in this regard.
Jagdeo said that through the LCDS, Guyana has already defined how it will deal with the problem of climate change in the future. “If we don’t plan for the future, all the gains that we have made as a country could be reversed,” he pointed out. “This is why I have argued that this has to enter our consciousness, because climate change will pose the biggest developmental challenge for a country like Guyana,” he said.
He said Government plans to review the curriculum of the school system, “so that every schoolchild has an awareness of the environment and the challenges and opportunities in this sector.”
The Japanese Ambassador, speaking at the ceremony, said that Guyana is a country full of potential and there must be development of the country’s human resources to take advantage of the potential. He said that this is the thrust of Japans’ assistance to Guyana. He said that his country is still talking with Guyana ways in which Japan could assist with the strengthening of the East Demerara Water Conservancy.
He noted that the project – for which three technical missions had visited Guyana – is long overdue. Iwata said there will be a fourth mission dispatched to the country soon. The Ambassador said based on the studies done, the teams are examining the best way of strengthening the dam. “We have to decide whether to use the conventional method or an innovative method [while] looking at cost of the project,” said Iwata.
The Ambassador said it is not only for the fact that the improved conservancy will prevent disaster and improve food security, but also Guyana and Japan share similar philosophy in matters of climate change. He also hailed President Jagdeo as a leader on REDD plus.