The third International Congress regarding the Biodiversity of the Guiana Shield got underway on Monday in Paramaribo, Suriname with a keynote address by former President Bharrat Jagdeo.

The congress, which was attended by more than 200 participants from Guiana Shield countries – including Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Venezuela and Brazil – catered to a diverse audience which included policy representatives, NGOs, the academic community, and indigenous communities.


Jagdeo was invited by the organisers in the capacity of expert in the area of biodiversity and economic development, and in his address, highlighted the threat to global biodiversity from climate change. He made reference to the current warming trajectory, which could see the world warming by as much as four degrees Celsius by 2100 if urgent action is not taken and the catastrophic effect this will have on biodiversity.

In giving recognition to the Guiana Shield as one of the last remaining eco-regions with intact forests and biodiversity, Jagdeo encouraged participants to look at new research and new approaches to mobilise people of the region to action. He advocated that more work needed to be done at the political level and with the general public to raise awareness on climate change and its impacts as well as how we can take local action to protect the region’s biodiversity and people.

Reference was also made to Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy as one of the first examples of incentivising biodiversity conservation and ecosystem protection, while promoting sustainable livelihoods and a green economy. Guyana’s efforts towards establishing a world-class Centre for Biodiversity were also recognised. The congress ends today with focused sessions on key areas of mining, the green economy, economic value of biodiversity, gender and biodiversity, and the setting of priorities for biodiversity action in the region.