Statement by Ambassador Troy Torrington, Deputy Permanent Representative, Republic of Guyana to the United Nations at the High-Level Action Event on Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Agenda, United Nations Headquarters, New York, 24 March 2017
Guyana associates with the statements by the distinguished representatives of Ecuador, Maldives and Barbados on behalf of G-77, AOSIS and CARICOM.
Climate change is one of the more prominent of the global sustainable development challenges we face. Addressing this challenge is therefore in many respects integral to overall efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals. Guyana therefore commends the timely convening of this High-Level Event.
With over 85 per cent of its total land area covered by forests, Guyana is a very negligible contributor to climate change. Nonetheless, as a small, low-lying coastal developing state, Guyana has demonstrated its commitment to the fight to address climate change by signing the Paris Agreement on the very first day that it was opened for signature and by depositing its instrument of ratification within one month thereafter.
Given the grave challenges we face as well as our particular vulnerability to sea level rise, Guyana’s efforts in favour sustainable development have been of long standing. In 1996, Guyana dedicated almost a million acres of pristine Amazonian rainforest for use by the international community to help mitigate the global impact of deforestation and forest degradation. Today, the Iwokrama International Centre for Rain Forest Conservation and Development continues to manage the resources of this forest preserve located in the geographical heart of Guyana.
Since the adoption of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement, Guyana has been working to finalize a Green State Development Strategy that provides a decarbonized approach to growth, achieving the sustainable development targets and the long term vision for a prosperous and equitable future for all Guyanese. The Green State Development Strategy encompasses the safeguarding of environmental integrity, promoting social inclusion and cohesion and the pursuit of economic expansion and diversification.
The Strategy also positions Guyana to deliver on a core objective of its nationally determined contribution under the UNFCCC of moving from a situation of near total fossil fuel dependence to close to 100% renewable energy by 2025. In this regard, the town of Bartica in the Essequibo region of Guyana has been identified as a pilot model town for the implementation of the strategy – with lessons learnt from the pilot informing national and regional efforts to reduce carbon emissions and to identify energy efficient solutions.
Needless to say, the timely provision of adequate and predictable means of implementation will be essential to incentivize the necessary transformations to make the sustainable development trajectory irreversible in our countries. Guyana will therefore seek to strengthen meaningful and mutually beneficial international partnerships such as the Guyana – Norway REDD-Plus partnership and cooperation with Italy and the United States within the ambit of CARICOM to support climate adaptation and mitigation efforts.
Mr. President, in conclusion, it is clear that achieving the SDGs and addressing Climate Change are inextricably interrelated and that we are unlikely to achieve the SDGs if we do not effectively solve the climate problem. For this reason, we endorse the call by CARICOM and many others for systematic stocktaking events of this type in the General Assembly to maintain momentum and to enhance synergies between efforts to implement the Paris Agreement and to achieve the SDGs. I assure you of the strong commitment of Guyana to this enterprise. Thank you, Mr. President.