-President Jagdeo tells CI’s global awareness campaign

PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo has once again put forward Guyana’s resolve to participate in the committed global fight against Climate Change.

The Guyanese Head of State, speaking at a Conservation International (CI) press conference in New York yesterday, said Guyana is ready to be a model for the world in devising international partnerships in this fight against climate change.

(Picture:  CI’s Global Awareness Campaign: From left, Chairman and
Chief Executive Officer of Conservation International Peter Zeligmann,
President Bharrat Jagdeo and CI’s President Mr. Russell Mittermeier
during yesterday’s event in New York.)


“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. Guyana is prepared to be a model for the world in devising these partnerships,” Mr. Jagdeo declared.

The conference was aimed at starting a global awareness campaign on the vital and often overlooked role forests play as an immediate and cost-effective solution for climate change.

The President, along with leading Hollywood actor and Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors of CI, Harrison Ford; Chairman and CEO of CI, Peter Seligmann, and the President of CI, Russ Mittermeier hosted the press conference.

The campaign is being held under the theme ‘Lost there, felt here’.

President Jagdeo observed the immense contribution that tropical forests make to the world, and pointed out that future generations all over the earth deserve that forest destruction is slowed.

He listed the benefits of tropical forests, including providing an enormous sink for greenhouse gases which must be sequestered in the global fight against climate change, allowing rainfall which sustains agriculture, providing medicines that improve the health of persons everywhere, and with an unequalled biodiversity that offers solutions to problems for generations to come.

President Jagdeo pointed out that while climate change might result in North Americans and Europeans having to pay more for SUVs and other luxury items, in poor countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America, it would mean a matter of life or death, the difference between eating and starving, or the destruction of livelihoods of entire communities.

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

And if the forests are to be preserved, “We must make it more valuable to leave our trees standing than to cut them down.”

And this can be achieved if three things are done, the President posited.

** Firstly, for the forging of any post-Kyoto climate agreement, the international community must devise solutions that are proportional to the causes of climate change.

He said that while the economics make it clear that avoiding tropical deforestation remains the largest and most cost-effective abatement solution there is, when compared with the attention given for example to the role of aviation in climate change, the cause of less than 3 per cent global emissions, the lack of incentives to combat tropical deforestation is the single most glaring example of the lack of proportion in addressing climate change.

** Secondly, the President referred to the need to assist developing countries plot a new model which avoids the high-carbon path that today’s developed world followed.

He said that while leaders in the developed world recognised that the global transition to low carbon economies presents their countries with enormous opportunities for jobs and growth, “…they also need to understand that there are developing countries who 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 economies, without sacrificing the legitimate social and economic aspirations of their people.”

** And finally, President Jagdeo said all this cannot be achieved without international partnerships.

He stressed that in all this, “the development needs of our people will always come first, and we will continue to preserve our sovereignty over the forest”.

“Provided these principles are respected,” President Jagdeo declared, “we are willing to place almost our entire rainforest, which is larger than England, under the supervision of an international body to ensure compliance with world-class forestry standards.”

And so the crucial need is for partners “to help us find the right market-based mechanisms to make it economically worthwhile”.

“I hope that partners such as those who will be reached through the campaign that is being launched today will help us achieve this,” the President posited.

No compensation for Guyana
In his introduction to Guyana at the New York launch, Conservational International (CI) Global Awareness Campaign President, Mr. Russ Mittermeier, said that the forests of Guyana and its neighbours are the source of 20 per cent of the world’s fresh water and contain 18 per cent of the carbon dioxide stored in the world’s tropical forests, so conserving them benefits people everywhere.

Yet there is no mechanism for compensating Guyana for the services its forests provides.

And this means that the Guyana Government would have to cut down the forests in order to get carbon credits for replanting them, a perverse incentive that must end by making all tropical forests eligible for carbon credits, Mr. Mittermeier said.

“We need the kind of leadership displayed by President Jagdeo to develop comprehensive strategies for combating climate change and helping nations cope with its impact”, the President of CI lauded.

“How many of you know where Guyana is?” he questioned.

“It is a South American country nestled between Suriname and Venezuela and Brazil with a small coastline and some of the most beautiful and pristine natural environments anywhere.”

“Guyana also is part of the Guyana Shield, a region that contains the largest remaining tract of tropical forest on Earth. I believe that a century from now, this might be the only real unspoilt tropical forest on the planet,” Mittermeier declared.

He said one reason it would still exist is because of people like President Jagdeo – whom he considers his “friend” and “a great world leader”.

“President Jagdeo has taken a bold step in declaring his willingness to conserve most of Guyana's tropical forest to prevent the carbon stored there from worsening climate change,” the CI President declared.{jcomments off}