-cites need for new paths to development

President Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday renewed Guyana’s offer of its rainforests in the battle against climate change and at a Conservation Inter-national global awareness campaign in New York said rainforest countries need new development paths that do not rely on unsustainable forest exploitation.

Expressing delight in supporting  the “Lost There, Felt Here” Campaign, he said there is also need to recognize the vicious circle of destruction that links climate change and deforestation. “While climate change policies might result in Europeans and North Americans having to pay more for an SUV, in poor countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America, climate change is literally a matter of life or death, the difference between able to eat or starving, or the cause of destruction of the livelihoods of entire communities,” Jagdeo said.

“Deforestation causes global challenges of an immense scale that are not only felt here, but across all parts of our planet, in rich and poor countries, large and small countries, in those with and without forests. Even those who do not share the view that there are anthropogenic causes of climate change support the contention that tropical deforestation should be addressed to avoid loss of medical advances, erosion of bio-diversity and the disappearance of freshwater resources, the Guyanese leader declared.

In these circumstances, he added, nobody can say with a clear conscience that communities should not seek to utilise the resources that are present in their forests.

“It is these all-too-human reasons that must be addressed if we are to preserve the world’s forests - we must make it more valuable to leave our trees standing than to cut them down,” he urged.
He suggested three pathways to achieve this.
While seeking to forge a post-Kyoto climate agreement, the international community must devise solutions that are proportional to the causes of climate change.

Acknowledging that the emergence of a US$30 billion carbon market represents progress, Jagdeo noted that the fact that very little relates to addressing tropical deforestation shows that there is still  some way to go in addressing meaningfully the cause of more greenhouse emissions than the entire global transport sector.

He said further that there is  need to assist developing countries plot a new model of development which avoids the high-carbon growth path that today’s developed world followed.

Visionary leaders throughout the developed world recognize that the global transition to low carbon economies presents their countries with enormous opportunities for jobs, investment and growth.
And praising them in that regard, he noted  that they also need to understand  there are developing countries that are willing to act decisively, and it is in the interests of the entire  global community to support these countries as they seek to plot a path towards low carbon econo-mies, without sacrificing the legitimate social and economic aspirations of their peoples.

Jagdeo also pointed out that if the first two goals are to be met, it must be recognized  that  no country or group of countries can go it alone.

“The key to success is international partnership. We need a coalition of progressive forces, governments, businesses, non-governmental organizations and conscientious people everywhere to keep the issue of tropical deforestation and the need for low-carbon models of development in the forefront of the world’s policy debate,” he said.

Tropical deforestation must receive the same level of attention, resources, intellect and innovation as other global problems and partnership is the key to achieving this, Jagdeo added.

Guyana as a model
He also told his audience that Guyana is prepared to be a model for the world in devising these partnerships. The offer was first made last year in Georgetown at a meeting of Commonwealth Finance Ministers.

“Despite the fact that we are acutely feeling the impact of rising sea levels and adverse weather patterns given that most of our productive land is below sea level, we do not want to simply complain about this. We recognize that as a nation where over 80% of our surface area is tropical rainforest, we have an obligation to our own people and the wider world to do something,” the Guyana leader said.
In doing this, he asserted, the “development needs of our people will always come first, and we will continue to preserve our sovereignty over the forest.”

But  provided these principles are respected, Guyana  would be willing to place almost its entire rainforest,  which is larger than England, under the supervision of an international body to ensure compliance with world-class forestry standards, Jagdeo stated.

This will be done, he explained, if the right market-based mechanisms are found to make it economically worthwhile.

He also commended Con-servation International for convening the event to draw attention to the immense contribution that tropical forests make to the world.

Not only do tropical forests provide an enormous sink for greenhouse gases  which must be sequestered in the global fight against climate change, Jagdeo observed, they also provide the world with the rain which sustains its agriculture, with medicines that improve the health of people everywhere, and with an unequalled bio-diversity that will lead to solutions to problems for generations to come.

Referring to this global nature of the benefits of the world’s forests, he commented that the “Lost There, Felt Here” slogan does not entirely encapsulate the impact of tropical deforestation.  “It might be more accurate to say ‘Lost There, Felt Every-where’, he quipped.

Original article by Stabroek News. View article.

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