Guyana, Suriname to advance talks on joint ‘environment’ strategy
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Vice-President Bharrat Jagdeo with Suriname’s President Chandrikapersad Santokhi
Vice-President Bharrat Jagdeo with Suriname’s President Chandrikapersad Santokhi

–during three-day visit to the Dutch-speaking nation by VP Jagdeo, Minister Bharrat

VICE-PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo and Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat are in Suriname as part of an official three-day visit to strengthen bilateral relations and advance a number of joint initiatives being undertaken by the two countries.

Upon their arrival in the Dutch-speaking territory on Monday, the Jagdeo-led delegation met with Suriname’s President Chandrikapersad Santokhi, who recently completed a high-level visit to Guyana, which saw the two countries committing to a number of shared projects, including a common environmental strategy.

Jagdeo, a former President of Guyana who has been internationally recognised for his ground-breaking efforts to tackle climate change, is expected to engage Surinamese officials in relation to the preservation and sustainability of the environment.

In August, when the Surinamese Head of State visited Guyana, President Dr. Irfaan Ali had announced that the two countries would be jointly marketing their forests as carbon credits, which is essentially a permit that allows a country or organisation to produce a certain amount of carbon emissions which can be traded if the full allowance is not used.

Vice-President Bharrat Jagdeo (right) and Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat (left), engage Suriname’s Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, David Abiamofo

In addition to a myriad of other cultural and economic commonalities, Guyana and Suriname are said to be two of the most heavily forested countries in South America. As a result, Presidents Ali and Santokhi have committed to ensuring that the two countries work together to advance a number of sectors, including agriculture and oil and gas.

As it relates to climate change, the two countries have decided to develop a common strategy for management of the environment and countering climate change, ahead of the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26.

“We are going to jointly approach the area of environment and climate change to come up with a common strategy for both Guyana and Suriname ahead of COP26… and in exploring the possibility of merging forest assets in the carbon-credit market,” President Ali told a joint press conference in August.

It was at that forum that President Ali said that Vice-President Jagdeo will be leading a delegation to Suriname before COP26.
The Vice-President was tasked with coordinating Guyana’s strategy and working with Surinamese authorities to develop a common strategy to deal with climate change and the environment.

On Guyana’s end, there are already plans to reintroduce the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), which is premised on the concept of avoided deforestation, which allows Guyana’s 15 million hectares of rainforest to serve as a carbon sink, a process that is critical to combating global climate change. Deforestation accounts for about 20 per cent of human-generated greenhouse emissions.

To support the LCDS, the Governments of Guyana and Norway had agreed on a ground-breaking model, which saw Norway paying US$250 million towards Guyana’s forest climate services between 2010 and 2015. This, the second largest deal of its kind in the world, was initiated by Jagdeo during his tenure as President.

Speaking at a recent Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), Vice-President Jagdeo said: “Because there is this Climate Change imperative to decarbonise, our policy is to get as much oil out of the ground as quickly as possible. It sounds a bit harsh for those who think you should be environmentally sound, but that is the reality of it.”

Jagdeo reasoned that Guyana has to maximise the benefit from the industry and use those benefits to change lives of every Guyanese.
“We don’t know how swiftly we’ll get to a decarbonised world, but we have to make use of this period when there is still demand to get as much as possible out of the ground and that is why we support the rapid pace of the industry, but it must be done safely,” the Vice-President related.

These are all issues slated to be discussed by Guyana and Suriname over the next two days. As it is, Jagdeo and Bharrat have already had their initial engagements with Suriname’s Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry of Suriname, David Abiamofo; Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business and International Cooperation, Ambassador Albert Ramdin; Minister of Spatial Planning & Environment at the Presidential Palace in Suriname, Silvano Tjoong-Ahin, and Guyana’s Ambassador to Suriname, Keith George.

It is expected that Guyana and Suriname would be able to finalise their shared strategy in time for COP26, which is slated to run from October 31 to November 12 in the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow, United Kingdom.

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