THE Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development will soon receive a visit from a review committee comprising leading dignitaries and organisations to revise its operations and devise models to safeguard sustainability. Minister of State Joseph Harmon made this disclosure at the post-cabinet media briefing on Wednesday, and also informed that Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman has approved a grant of US$100,000 to the center for its work until yearend.
He said further that Cabinet was advised that the Iwokrama Centre was in a situation where it could not meet its operational expenses, pay its staff and meet other expenses.
Iwokrama’s Chairman, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, the Minister said, is currently embroiled in legal battles in his home country of India, while the patronage of Prince Charles has run dry as he is distracted by other international commitments.
He added that Commonwealth Secretary-General, Mr Kamalesh Sharma made it clear during his visit here this week that the Commonwealth would not be able to fund the works of the Centre any longer.
“So we have a situation where we had limited funding for the project, and a situation where the inflows coming into the project has been reduced significantly. And this is why we have to review the Board and the work that is being done there at the Centre,” Minister Harmon said.
The review committee comprises Minister of Governance, Mr Raphael Trotman, who will be chairing the committee; Major General (ret’d) Joseph Singh from the Ministry of the Presidency; Dr. David Singh of Conservation International Guyana (CIG); Mr Damien Fernandez of the Protected Areas Commission (PAC); and two representatives from the Centre itself; representatives from the University of Guyana, the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs and the Ministry of Public Infrastructure.
“The committee has been given clear instructions that they will have to commence this work immediately so that decisions can be made,” the Minister declared.
Aside from the Centre’s commitment towards preserving Guyana’s rainforest, and combatting climate change, many are of the view that the Centre has only been targetting researchers and not actual tourists.
In this regard, Minister Harmon said that the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Public Infrastructure are now planted within the review committee, and will therefore seek to address the matter of turning the center into a tourist destination and not just an exploratory Centre.
By Shivanie Sugrim