Chapter One: Towards 2030 – The New Low-Carbon Economy

Summary

Guyana will create an ecosystems economy which balances the following: low-impact mining and forestry to enhance employment and income generation opportunities; forest climate services through which the value provided by Guyana’s forests to the world is recognised; Guyana’s next generation of ecosystem services such as water management, and biodiversity protection. Protected Areas will be expanded, and partners will be sought for the International Center for Biodiversity Research.

Developing a sustainable Ocean Economy is crucial for Guyana in its management of its rich ocean resources; growing commercial fishing sector; emerging shipping and logistics industry, and ecotourism programmes. This theme is linked to the Low-carbon Economy and Ecosystem Services as the Ocean Economy is not just about market opportunities, but it also provides for the protection and development of more intangible ‘blue’ resources such as traditional ways of life, carbon sequestration, and coastal resilience to help mitigate the often devastating effects of climate change.

Sustainable Forestry and Low Impact Mining   

Approaches to Sustainable Forestry and Low- Impact Mining

Guyana’s forests are vital assets in the global fight against climate change. However, the forests also serve a multitude of other functions, including generating employment and income through the forestry, agriculture, and mining sectors. Further, the forests — along with other parts of Guyana’s territory — have many significant ecosystem services beyond carbon/climate. However, historically only the extractive activities generate employment and economic value – both forestry and mining are vital sectors to Guyana’s economy:

  • Forestry – Guyana’s forestry sector accounts for approximately US$40 million to US$60 million in export value annually and employs over 20,000 persons. There are 17 large concessions in Guyana and 580 small concessions, all of which are leased to and operated by community forest operators and private individuals/companies. The State holds no equity or other management interest in any forest concession. The Government, through the Guyana Forestry Commission, monitors and regulates the activities of forest concessions to ensure that strict sustainable forest management rules and guidelines are implemented, and that forest legislation is implemented effectively by operators.
  • Mining – Guyana has a long history and tradition of mining, and remains one of South America’s largest mineral producers and exporters. The mining sector contributed 16% of Guyana’s GDP and 56.4% (US$1,017.1 million) of Guyana’s export earnings. Along with the quarrying sector, the mining sector employs an estimated 12,000 – 18,000 Guyanese (approximately 4% – 6% of Guyana’s total workforce). In 2019, the value of output from the mining sector was approximately G$211.1 billion, with exploration focusing mainly on gold, diamond, bauxite, loam, manganese, oil and sand. Guyana has maintained low levels of deforestation throughout mining extraction activity over the years, with the independently verified deforestation rate never exceeding 0.079% at peak price and production levels. With decades of extraction in the mining sector to date, Guyana has maintained over 99% of its forest cover with this vast expanse of forest area recorded as intact forests. The LCDS will continue to prioritise the strengthening of measures for low-impact mining, rehabilitation and restoration of mined-out areas, and improved transparency in the sector.

As such, achieving the right balance between potentially competing developmental models is one of the core challenges faced by the country. To achieve this balance in the coming years, Guyana will advance:

  • Sustainable Forestry and Low-Impact Mining Practices: This will enhance employment and income generation opportunities through domestic regulation and linking with global market standards.
  • Forest Climate Services: As the first capability for Guyana’s ecosystem services, work will be advanced to underpin the Monitoring Reporting and Verification System (MRVS) and Safeguard Information System (SIS) that support REDD+ and ART-TREES, while also creating the right legal and policy frameworks for individual projects, including reforestation and reclamation in mined-out areas.
  • Ecosystem Services: Preparing to expand the range of ecosystem services that can become part of global nature-based solutions, beyond carbon. This may entail partnerships from Indigenous Peoples and local communities, local business, government, and international stakeholders.

Approaches to Sustainably Growing the Forestry and Extractive Sectors:

To enhance the employment and economic benefits created by the forestry and mining sectors, while also advancing efforts to safeguard Guyana’s ecosystem services, the country is:

  • Implementing sustainable forest management.
  • Improving added-value activities locally to assist in creating a higher potential for carbon storage in long-use wood products.
  • Improving planning and recovery in mining areas.
  • Advancing transparency through Guyana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GYEITI).
  • Exploring options for land reclamation and reforestation of mined areas.
  • Implementing education and incentives for integrated planning and management of the mining and forest sectors.

Implementation of sustainable forest management

Sustainable forest management, including forest monitoring and enforcement, along with the implementation of the accompanying codes of practices, are necessary to ensure the efficient management of forest resources. Legality and the activities that accompany attaining same are critical to achieving good governance in the forest sector. The LCDS Investment Programme will increase support for:

  • Finalising and implementing the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) under EU-FLEGT: The European Union’s Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (EU-FLEGT) seeks to support forest governance through strengthening sustainable and legal forest management and promoting trade in legally-produced timber. The VPA, when concluded, will be a bilateral trade agreement between the EU and Guyana, and will enable Guyana to export legally sourced and verifiable wood products to EU markets. In pursuing this process, Guyana aims to formulate, through negotiations with the EU, a pragmatic VPA which captures the parameters of strong forest governance, sound environmental principles, legality, and wide stakeholder input. At the end of 2018, following 6 years of negotiation, Guyana and the EU agreed in principle to the agreement and have initialled the VPA. It is intended that a period of preparedness will then follow for 3-5 years to enable Guyana to effectively implement the VPA under EU-FLEGT by the issuance of FLEGT licences.
  • Implementation of Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC): The development of a national forest certification scheme for Guyana is a natural extension of the current FLEGT and REDD+ initiatives, with the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) system in particular providing strong linkages with existing government policies and processes. In supporting the national implementation of Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), Guyana will seek to build the capacities of national stakeholders to manage and audit PEFC-certified areas. Guyana will also develop the framework to implement the national process for PEFC. The LCDS Investment Programme will support marketing efforts for boosting local and international trade of certified forestry products.

Improving added-value activities locally to assist in creating a higher potential for carbon storage in long-use wood products.

Expanding the value chain beyond primary production is integral to minimising the pressure on its forest by finding the most suitable and economic use for the forest resources. Forest carbon is stored in a more stable state for longer periods of time without being emitted into the atmosphere the further advanced the wood products value change is. Market research and promotion are integral to finding the most suitable and economic use for the forest resources. Guyana’s NDC points out that the use of value-added “could also potentially reduce the pressure on forest resources as derivation of a higher value may result in reduced harvest levels.” The LCDS Investment Programme will focus on the development of technical skills and techniques, supporting technology transfer and enabling more marketing and promotion of local products. Focus will be placed on developing the skills and products techniques for value-added activities while supporting technology transfer within the sector and developing added value marketing capability to expand the value chain.

Advancing Transparency through Guyana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GYEITI)

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is a global standard to promote open and accountable management of natural resources and seeks to strengthen government and company systems, inform public debates, and enhance trust.

Guyana first engaged the EITI on 4th May, 2010 when the Prime Minister of Guyana expressed the country’s interest in implementing EITI.

In August 2017, Guyana submitted its application to the EITI International Secretariat and received official acceptance as an EITI implementing country on 25th October, 2017.

Guyana published its first EITI Report in 2019, covering the fiscal year 2017. This was followed by its second report in April 2021, covering fiscal year 2018. These reports disclosed figures related to mineral productions as well as exploration activities in the hydrocarbon sector.

Integrated Planning and Management of the Mining and Forest Sectors

The Guyana Forestry Commission’s Codes of Practice are designed to take into account the various legislations that are directly related to forest management. They provide guidelines for best practices in order to ensure that continuing economic returns can be obtained over the long term, while simultaneously fostering overall sustainable utilisation and management of Guyana’s forest resources. They are designed to balance commercial and environmental considerations with social values through implementation of the GFC’s integrated management system that will improve efficiency and address environmental, quality, and occupational safety and health areas.

The LCDS will support the implementation of mineral mapping in the mining districts in order to identify economically exploitable deposits as a means of improving productivity within the mining sector while slowing deforestation. Such prior planning efforts serve to limit areas deforested and efforts to reduce road-building.

This will significantly reduce deforestation by avoiding clearing of forest cover from lands which contain only marginal mineral deposits. A significant portion of Guyana’s deforestation results from forest clearing for mining that does not generate a profit. The information will allow the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission to update its geological maps and be better able to use this information to more efficiently identify and plan for extraction of gold or other mineral deposits.

Explore options for land reclamation and reforestation of mined areas

Mine-site reclamation and closure are legal requirements for all mining operations and is critical to ecosystem restoration or re-establishment. To date, approximately 200,000 hectares of forest areas are available for rehabilitation/reforestation. Whilst some areas may see new vegetation, the majority of these areas will require rehabilitation activities. The LCDS will support these activities.

The Special Land-Use Committee was established in 2009 with the role of providing recommendations to Cabinet on managing land use and land-use conflicts as they relate to degradation from extractive activities; more specifically to explore options for increased, and more effective, reclamation of mined out lands. A Land Reclamation Project was set up in 2014 and resulted in demonstration sites established in pilot areas that included Olive Creek, Dacoura Mines, and Thomas Island, Puruni. The project sought to encourage and promote the reclamation of mined-out areas, especially for small and medium gold-mining operations and was implemented jointly with the private sector. The findings of these pilot activities will be used to guide national decision-making on reforestation and land reclamation in small and medium mined-out areas.

Forest Climate Services

As set out in Chapter Two of this document, Guyana may progress with integration of its REDD+ Programme with voluntary carbon markets such as ART TREES. While the functional aspects are described in Chapter Two, there are certain institutional capabilities which underpin Guyana’s market integration, mainly captured under two key capabilities (MRVS and Safeguards):

  • Monitoring, Reporting and Verification System (MRVS) – Guyana’s MRVS Roadmap, set out in 2009, was aimed at building a comprehensive national system to monitor, report and verify forest carbon emissions resulting from deforestation as well as forest degradation. The overarching objective of the Roadmap is for all forest‐related emissions by sources and removals to be monitored, reported and verified in accordance with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) guidance. With steady progress over the last 12 years, this has been achieved. The MRVS is now a combined Geographic Information System (GIS) and field-based monitoring system that provides the basis for measuring verifiable changes in Guyana’s forest cover and resultant carbon emissions, which will underpin results-based REDD+ compensation in the long-term, based on international guidance and best practice. Through the MRVS, Guyana is able to account for and report on forest change nationally, in terms of forest area lost and forest carbon emissions. These reports have been the basis of performance measurement under the Guyana Norway Agreement. The MRVS will allow for Guyana to account for performance under any new forest agreement in the future, while allowing for the country to achieve the objectives of the Low-carbon Development Strategy. The system is well-positioned to integrate complex market-based fundamentals, including uncertainty assessment, provisions for risk reversals, project nesting, and linkages to forest carbon registries. Forest financing markets requirements of tracking additionality, leakage, preventing double counting and double issuance of carbon credits, and eventually facilitating project nesting, have been addressed and will be further strengthened through the structure of Guyana’s MRVS.
  • MRVS Phase Three Priorities – MRVS Phase Three will support the improvement of the necessary human and physical capabilities, to be sustained by local institutions, to create the platform for monitoring, reporting and compliance verification under a market-based mechanism. This phase will also build on the REDD+ readiness phase of the MRVS development and result in annual routine reporting on forest carbon emissions and removals in compliance with UNFCCC and IPCC requirements. Simultaneously, the project will create the complementary systems for reporting on REDD+ governance compliance requirements such as supporting REDD+ forest sector safeguards, Guyana’s Nationally Determined Contributions, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals 13 and 15.
  • Safeguards Information System for REDD+ and ART-TREES – Growth in the extractive sectors is only sustainable if safeguards are adhered to. The National Safeguards Information System (SIS) for REDD+ will seek to serve several functions for Guyana, including reporting on results-based financing, providing local information on the country’s performance against the Cancun Safeguards for REDD+, as well as ensuring maintained stakeholder support for REDD+. More specifically, it will provide information on the actual outcomes of Guyana’s conformance with the Cancun Safeguards throughout REDD+ implementation, including in the context of accessing REDD+ results-based payments in application of the methodological framework established in the Warsaw Framework for REDD+.

Through the development of the Safeguards Information System (SIS) for REDD+, Guyana intends to monitor REDD+ activities in accordance with the objectives of Cancun Safeguards and report on the progress in implementation of the Safeguards. Guyana is continuing efforts in implementing the safeguards listed in decision 1/CP.16. Further, Guyana seeks to develop a system for reporting in how safeguards are being addressed and respected in accordance with decisions 12/CP.17, 12/CP.19, 17/CP.21. The Cancun Safeguards have been agreed to at the 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate (COP16) in 2010. Countries are expected to implement these safeguards in keeping with national contexts and circumstances. More specifically countries are required to:

  • Implement REDD+ activities in a manner consistent with the Cancun Safeguards. REDD+ activities, regardless of their funding source, are to be implemented in such a way that the Cancun Safeguards are addressed and respected.
  • Establish a system to provide information on how Cancun Safeguards are being addressed and respected.
  • Provide the most recent summary of information on how the Cancun Safeguards are being addressed and respected.

The following safeguards are among the areas to be included in Guyana’s Reporting:

  • That actions complement or are consistent with the objectives of national forest programme and relevant international conventions and agreements;
  • Transparent and effective national forest governance structures, taking into account national legislation and sovereignty;
  • Respect for the knowledge and rights of Indigenous Peoples and members of local communities, by taking into account relevant international obligations, national circumstances and laws, and noting that the United Nations General Assembly has adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
  • The full and effective participation of relevant stakeholders, in particular Indigenous Peoples and local communities;
  • That actions are consistent with the conservation of natural forests and biological diversity, ensuring that the actions are not used for the conversion of natural forests, but are instead used to incentivise the protection and conservation of natural forests and their ecosystem services, and to enhance other social and environmental benefits;
  • Actions to address the risks of reversals;
  • Actions to reduce displacement of emissions.

Ecosystem Services

As Guyana’s focus on ecosystem services shifts beyond forest carbon, Guyana is cognisant of other aspects of ecosystem services programmes that may be applicable to the country’s circumstances. Some of these schemes include those focused on freshwater management and biodiversity protection.

Ecosystem functions are the full suite of services provided by the natural environment that are vital to human health and livelihoods. These services are the basis for the supply of food, drinking water and in some cases protection against the effects of natural disasters. Ecosystem services are impacted by increasing global populations, changes in technology and rapid economic growth. This is apparent in the growing scarcity of access to clean drinking water, increasing environmental pollution and land-use change, all of which are affecting economic security and impacting the global climate.

As part of its strategy to grow the low-carbon economy, Guyana will focus on integrating ecosystem services into the global economy. While the opportunities presented by Guyana’s enormous forest carbon stocks and sequestration capacity may be close to recognition by global markets, Guyana has many other significant ecosystems services – including abundant fresh water and biodiversity. Guyana’s forest provides support to:

  • Watershed Protection: Hydrological benefits – Controlling the timing and volume of water flows and protecting water quality; reduced sedimentation: avoiding damage to downstream reservoirs and waterways and so safeguarding uses such as hydroelectric power generation, irrigation, recreation, fisheries, and domestic water uses. Support will be given to the development of a national water management strategy for Guyana that addresses surface water, ground water, rain water, as well as watershed management.
  • Biodiversity Conservation/Protection: Support will be given to the development of a framework for leveraging Guyana’s rich biodiversity and natural capital for social, economic, and environmental development in a low-carbon development trajectory.
  • Carbon Storage and Sequestration: Enhancing carbon sinks and mitigating against higher temperatures by creating their own micro-climate.

The LCDS approaches development from an ecosystems approach, with Forestry and Biodiversity Protection integrated into LCDS 2030. The following Interventions will be included:

  • Expansion and restoration of Guyana’s mangrove forests and ecosystems.
  • Examination of Green-Grey Solutions (Engineered Infrastructure-Mangroves) utilising mangroves in Guyana’s coastal protection.
  • Strengthening and expanding Guyana’s National Protected Area System
  • Maintenance of intact forest landscapes and watersheds.
  • Building local capacity for implementation of payment for ecosystem services mechanism.

Expansion and Restoration of Guyana’s Mangrove Forests and Ecosystems

Mangroves provide a number of important services to Guyana that range from the protection of the country’s coastal plain, to supporting biodiversity habitats, to provision of livelihoods to communities. Coastal ecosystems, specifically mangroves, provide an important function in sequestering significant amounts of carbon, designated ‘Blue Carbon4. This is of particular importance to Guyana’s REDD+ programme.

At a global level, despite covering 0.7% of total land area, mangrove deforestation accounts for an estimated 10% of emissions globally. It is estimated that mangroves are worth at least US$1.6 billion annually in ecosystem services. Blue Carbon ecosystems are therefore an important resource to be protected, expanded and or restored.

Guyana has made significant strides in the protection of mangroves through its Guyana Mangrove Restoration Project. This project allowed for the establishment of national administrative capacity to manage mangroves in Guyana and focused efforts on mangrove restoration, community-based mangrove management as well as public awareness. Guyana will intensify efforts at mangrove restoration and management in coming years.

The LCDS seeks to further explore Blue Carbon potential in Guyana, focusing on Guyana’s mangroves in the initial stages. The expansion and restoration of mangrove forests in Guyana is the intended outcome.

Examination of Green-Grey Solutions Utilising Mangroves in Guyana’s Coastal Protection

Mangroves, highly adapted to the challenging and dynamic juncture between land and sea, form a resilient green infrastructure that serves as the foundation of an entire, highly productive ecosystem. Their role in consolidating soil is crucial in the process that created our coastal plain. Mangroves grow quickly (2m/yr) when the conditions are right. While their unique roots capture and consolidate soil, they become critical nurseries for commercially and ecologically important marine life, and their tangles of branches provide vital habitats for thousands of other species. Bulwarks of coastal resiliency, mangroves provide crucial protection from storm-surges, flooding and erosion. Remarkable for their ability to sequester carbon and mitigate climate change, mangroves store as much as four times the carbon of an equal area of inland rainforest and most of it is in the soil, held fast by their roots. Increased mangrove cover will increase benefits for Guyana in the LCDS.

The LCDS will advance through a process of assessment of current structures and framework, the design and implementation of a comprehensive framework of Green- Grey Solutions as a component within the mechanism addressing sea and river defense.

Strengthen and Expand Guyana’s National Protected Area System

Conservation of forest carbon stocks is a key component of REDD+, with protected areas and other area-based conservation measures as key strategies to achieve this. The establishment of protected areas is an important part of Guyana’s LCDS.

The Protected Areas Commission (PAC) was established in 2012 following the passage of the Protected Areas Act in 2011. The PAC has oversight of management of Guyana’s National Protected Areas System (NPAS), with responsibility for further expansion of the NPAS. Guyana’s NPAS, which currently comprises approximately 8.4% of Guyana’s land area, comprises a mix of urban and hinterland protected areas. These protected areas include the Iwokrama forest, Shell Beach Protected Area, Kanuku Mountains Protected Area, Kaieteur National Park and the Kanashen Community-owned Conservation Area; the urban parks include the National Park, Botanical Gardens, Zoological Park and Joe Viera Park.

The role of the PAC includes monitoring and regulation of resource use within protected areas (PAs); preparation and implementation of management plans; support to Amerindian Villages associated with PAs; and public awareness and involvement.

Options will be examined for expansion of the NPAS and implementation effected. This will include not only advancing to the Aichi Target on Protected Areas but also, the more recent, ‘Leaders Pledge for Nature’.

Maintenance of Intact Forest Landscapes and Watersheds

The LCDS will advance efforts to maintain intact forests, protect biodiversity corridors and watersheds. Guyana has been reporting on Intact Forest Landscapes (IFL) since 2010, as a REDD+ Indicator. This was also part of the reporting requirements under the Guyana-Norway Agreement on climate and forests, and integral to Guyana’s reporting on forest change and biodiversity protection. Reporting on this indicator stems from the concept that degradation of intact forest through human activities will produce a net loss of carbon and is often the precursor to further processes causing long-term decreases in carbon stocks. Furthermore, preserving intact forests will contribute to the protection of biodiversity.

IFL continues to be an area that is underscored for its broader alignment to non-carbon aspects of ecosystem services and for this reason, it is a central area of the LCDS. The LCDS seeks to sustain growth in the forestry and mining sectors whilst maintaining over 99% of forest cover in Guyana.

Watershed services fall into the regulatory category of ecosystem services. Water can serve both a source and a sink function. For example, in comparison to agricultural regions, forested ecosystems regulate storm surges, reduce sediment loading in rivers/ streams, and promote sustained water flow. This is an example of how both forested and agricultural ecosystems regulate water, serving as source functions, yet forested ecosystems provide greater climate mitigation potential. Water flow, water quality, transportation provided by waterways, and habitat provided for fishes and marine life are the most common watershed ecosystem services. The LCDS will seek to protect key watersheds and protect the ecosystems which they serve.

Building Local Capacity for Implementation of Payment For Ecosystem Services Mechanism

The LCDS will support a programme involving Government, civil society, private sector, and Indigenous Peoples and local communities in advancing research and development in ecosystem services and functions. This will include at scale R&D work as well as localised community level development.

Academic institutions at national level (such as the University of Guyana, Cyril Potter College of Education, and the National Center for Education Research and Development) and local level (such as the Bina Hill Institute) and will be engaged. The programme will be developed and expanded to fully reflect the new and emerging thrust of the LCDS priorities and to holistically expand R&D throughout the academic and vocational pursuits of formal and informal education.

Working with local and international partners, including the University of Guyana, the LCDS will support the establishment of an International Center for Biodiversity Research (and potentially expanded ecosystem services). This Center will connect research work at national and local levels, and provide networking facilitation.

Biodiversity

Biodiversity or biological diversity is defined as the number, variety and variability of living organisms in a given terrestrial, aquatic, marine ecosystems. Biodiversity is a key characteristic and the foundation of ecosystems from local to global levels. Biodiversity influences human wellbeing through the services they provide. Such services include provisioning of food, fresh water, water purification, fuel, climate regulation, recreation, nutrient cycling and many more. Many people benefit from the exploitation of biodiversity, and as a result, biodiversity and ecosystem services underpin the global economy.

Guyana’s biodiversity is important to its people and economy, particularly for its role in provision of ecosystem services, support to livelihoods and economic development. Leveraging our rich biodiversity is recognised as an important component of Guyana’s LCDS.

STATUS OF BIODIVERSITY IN GUYANA – WHAT IS KNOWN

Guyana is situated in two of the world’s most biodiversity rich zones: The Amazon region and the Guiana Shield. Guyana’s ecosystems are largely intact and functional, with a very low rate of destruction/degradation and conversion. Guyana is situated in the northern boundary of the Guiana Shield. This unique region extends to Suriname, French Guiana and parts of Venezuela and small parts of northern Brazil and Colombia. Studies indicate that this region’s geographical formation is more than two billion years old and spans 270 million hectares. As a result, it has been recognised as having regional and global significance related to biological diversity. Contributing to this would be the many ecosystems found across the country’s landscape including our forests, savannahs, rivers and wetlands. Collectively, these ecosystems provide habitat for hundreds of species of flora and fauna. Guyana’s Sixth National Report to the Convention on Biodiversity Diversity (CBD) indicated that current estimates for the major group of biodiversity are as follows – 225 mammals, 179 reptiles, 148 amphibians, 814 birds and 8000 plants.

Inclusive of other groups such as Arthropods, Fungi, Nematodes and Algae. The total estimated numbers of species found in Guyana is 13,229 species.

Despite its modest size, Guyana boasts globally extraordinary levels of biodiversity. The country is home to more than 900 species of birds, 625 strictly freshwater fishes, 250 mammals, 250 amphibians, and 210 reptiles, for a grand total of at least 2,285 vertebrates. In maps of global species diversity, Guyana occupies global hotspots for birds, mammals, and amphibians, as well as for freshwater organisms (mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fishes, crabs, and crayfish. Marine vertebrate diversity is typical of the Caribbean region, and scores modestly at the global scale. Guyana is home to more than 7,000 vascular plant species, the great majority of them native to the country. The Guyanese flora accounts for more than 85% of all vascular plant species known from the three countries of the Guiana Shield. More than 100,000 invertebrate species are expected to occur in Guyana (insects, arachnids, crustaceans, myriapods, mollusks, annelids, sponges, cnidarians, and others). A more precise accounting of these groups, and of Guyana’s significant fungal and non-vascular plant diversity (lichens, liverworts, algae, etc.), is not possible at present due to incomplete sampling and incomplete species description. All of the numbers in this section are fluid since exploration of Guyana’s rich biodiversity is ongoing and new species of plants and animals are described from Guyana every year. In 2021 alone, newly described species for Guyana include multiple fishes, plants, beetles butterflies, and a bat.

Nearly 100 of the vertebrate species known from Guyana occur nowhere else on Earth. These include:

  • 75 endemic fish species, such as the armored catfish – Ancistrus Kellerae – known only from the Kuribrong River below Kaieteur Falls;
  • 19 endemic amphibian species, such as the globally-endangered Kaei Rock Frog, known only from the Maringma Tepui; and
  • Four endemic reptile species, such as the lizard Pantepuisaurus Rodriguesi, likewise known only from the Maringma Tepui.

POLICY AND LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK AND ACTIONS

International level

Guyana was among the 168 countries which signed the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) when it was opened for signature in June 1992 and subsequently ratified the Convention in August 1994. Currently (2014), there are 194 Parties to the Convention. The Convention on Biological Diversity provides a global legal framework for action on biodiversity. It brings together the Parties in the Conference of the Parties (COP) which is the Convention’s governing body that meets every two years, or as needed, to review progress in the implementation of the Convention, to adopt programmes of work to achieve its objectives, and provide policy guidance. To date , the Conference of the Parties has held 14 ordinary meetings, and one extraordinary meeting for the adoption of the Biosafety Protocol under the UNCBD.

The UNCBD is dedicated to promoting sustainable development and recognises that biological diversity is about more than flora and fauna and their ecosystems; it is about people and the need for food security, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment in which to live. The Convention, therefore, has three main goals: (i) The conservation of biodiversity, (ii) Sustainable use of the components of biodiversity, and (iii) Sharing the benefits arising from the commercial and other utilisation of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way.

The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing

This Protocol represents an internationally agreed and binding framework which will enhance legal certainty and transparency for users and providers of genetic resources; promoting adequate benefit-sharing where genetic resources leave the territory of the provider country and associated traditional knowledge is being utilised; as well as supporting mechanisms to monitor and ensure stakeholders’ compliance with mutually -agreed terms and National Access Benefit Sharing regulatory frameworks.

UNCBD Post 2020 Framework

The post-2020 global biodiversity framework builds on the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and sets out an ambitious plan to implement broad-based action to bring about a transformation in society’s relationship with biodiversity, ensuring that by 2050 the shared vision of ‘living in harmony with nature’ is fulfilled.

The framework seeks to promote transformative actions to deploy solutions to reduce threats to biodiversity. Actions are intended to ensure that biodiversity is used sustainably in order to meet people’s needs. It aims to ensure progress is monitored in a transparent and accountable manner with adequate stocktaking exercises to ensure that, by 2030, the world is on a path to reach the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity as follows:

“By 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people.”

This approach complements the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It also takes into account the long-term strategies and targets of other multilateral environment agreements, including the biodiversity-related Rio Conventions, to ensure synergistic delivery of benefits from all the agreements for the planet and people.

National obligations and actions

Guyana has committed to implementing the UNCBD and the decisions taken at the Conference of Parties. Guyana will also participate in the ongoing negotiations for the post 2020 Biodiversity Framework.

Since ratifying the UNCBD, Guyana has taken significant steps toward meeting its obligations and ensuring conservation and protection of its natural resources. These include:

  • Expanding the Protected Areas system to 8.5% of Guyana’s terrestrial space and initial studies conducted on expanding these areas to meet the Aichi target of 17%.
  • Policies developed included the National Forest Policy; National Land Use Policy; Policy on Access to Genetic Resources and Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from the Utilisation, and National Biosafety Framework
  • Strategies and action plans developed included the LCDS, Protected Areas Strategy; National Biodiversity Strategy and Action plan 2012-2020; National Forest Plan, National Protected Areas System Plan, National Land Use Plan, and the National Mangrove Management Action Plan;
  • Key pieces of legislation enacted included the Environmental Protection Act (1996); Protected Areas Act (2011); the Forest Act (2009); the Wildlife Management and Conservation Act (2016) Biosafety and ABS legislations (draft);
  • Established the Protected Areas Commission, and legally designated protected areas included the Kaieteur National Park, Kanuku Mountain Protected Area, the Shell Beach Protected Area, and Iwokrama;
  • Guyana has acceded to two Protocols of the CBD: the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing.

Shifting the Paradigm: Leveraging Guyana’s Rich Biodiversity for Development Opportunities (Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services)

The Government of Guyana has recognised the importance of Guyana’s rich biodiversity and myriad of ecosystem services. Biodiversity and ecosystem services underpin economic growth, sustainable development and human well-being. Guyana’s rich biodiversity and ecosystem services, wealth of traditional and indigenous knowledge are strategic assets, and Guyana’s diverse ecosystems provide goods and services that supports livelihoods, food, energy, health etc. The Government has set out to ensure that these resources are valued, conserved, managed and appropriately leveraged for social, economic and environmental benefits at the national level whilst meeting international obligations. This is intended to be articulated through the expanded LCDS.

The enabling environment

Leveraging Guyana’s rich biodiversity for social, economic and environmental benefits require an appropriate enabling environment that is conducive to a combination of conservation, management, sustainable use goals — including opportunities to attract direct foreign investment and channel financing to deserving enterprises, supporting the development of skills and research and development. Several agencies have overlapping legislation and associated mandates related to biodiversity conservation and management. Guyana will review its national and sectoral policies and laws with a view to better aligning them in this regard.

Sustainable economic opportunities

Biodiversity and related resources have contributed and continue to contribute tremendously to Guyana’s economy, particularly the forestry, fisheries, and wildlife sectors. In addition to these and other traditional development activities and sectors, Guyana can develop and promote entrepreneurship based around a range of other biodiversity-related products and services. This can include strengthening of wildlife and eco-tourism products; bio-prospecting; product innovation and development; intellectual property rights; and business incubation and market research. This will also include promoting enterprises by women and young people, and scaling up traditional and indigenous biodiversity-based livelihoods.

Strengthening protected areas management and sustainably managed productive landscapes

This involves:

  • Strengthening management of existing protected areas in relation to capacity, resources, monitoring and enforcement, while developing and implementing innovative management approaches for key productive landscapes in Guyana
  • Expansion of the National Protected Areas System (NPAS)
  • Examining and strengthening co-management (public and private partnerships, corporate social responsibility, technical and financial investments) and community-based approaches to managing biodiversity resources in key areas.

Research and Development and capacity building

Biodiversity data and documentation are vital to understanding the assets that Guyana possesses. There is a paucity of data resulting from poor or lack of standardised data collection, storage and management. Where databases exist, there is no consolidated system for sharing and exchange. Strengthening and consolidating existing databases and biodiversity-related information systems — including establishing systematic ways to collect, store, analyse and share data — is paramount. The focus is on strengthening research within agencies and especially the University of Guyana, including the Centre for Biodiversity as a centre for excellence. Regulatory agencies, such as the Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and Protected Areas Commission, will collaborate and develop research programmes to inform decision making, planning and management of biodiversity respectively.

Leveraging our biodiversity through the LCDS needs to be supported by up-to-date knowledge and skills. This requires:

  • Capacity-building of professionals with management and regulatory responsibilities.
  • Capacity-building of advisory services and technical support related to the Convention on Biological Diversity and the two protocols thereto (the Cartagena and Nagoya protocols) so that representatives are optimally prepared to articulate Guyana’s positions and priorities and negotiate effectively at CoP and other meetings of parties.
  • Promotion and investment in modern, cutting-edge technologies that are environmentally sound and suitable for Guyana’s context, through technology support and transfer.
  • Provision of appropriate technology and resource management including monitoring and enforcement. The role of information and communications technology should be emphasised in biodiversity conservation, management, sustainable use.

The above can be explored through South-South cooperation to facilitate access to clean and efficient technology; enhancing the capacity of research institutions for data generation, storage and analysis, such as through centres of excellence; and the participation of the private sector in the development and adoption of technology in both urban and rural areas.

Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)

River Basin Management: Planning and Management of Water Resources

The Government of Guyana recognises that planning and managing water resources necessitates a complete and integrated study of all relevant hydrological, topographical, socio-cultural, economic, political, environmental and institutional factors across all related water-using sectors in Guyana. Further, the intricate nature of Guyana’s drainage systems requires that activities for planning and management of the nation’s river systems are conducted within the context of hydrological regions: delineated by hydrological boundaries created by Guyana’s major river systems. Thus, the Government of Guyana will:

  1. Develop and update, as necessary, Water Management Plans for each administrative region (depending on the factors mentioned earlier); adopting a cross-sectoral approach to ensure integration, stakeholder participation and representation of interests at all levels of society; and,
  2. Undertake periodic assessments of both surface and ground water resources.

Water Rights and Allocation

The ownership of water is vested in the State. The Government of Guyana will therefore allocate water in a manner that will ensure equitable access and distribution among users, and promote effective and efficient development and use of water to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to address poverty, in keeping with the country’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (2011-2015).

During periods of droughts and floods, other natural and human-induced disasters, such as the contamination of groundwater aquifers that can threaten the health of the citizens of Guyana and the ecological integrity, the Government will foster cooperation among national institutions on matters pertaining to the re-directing of the use of water resources.

Allocation, customary and conflict-resolution rules will be the formal mechanisms for deciding who gets water, for what purpose(s), how much, at what time, for how long, and under what circumstances water use may be restricted. The Government will recognise basic human development needs as a priority in any water-allocation plan. Additionally, special attention will be given to efficient use of water resources that harmonises greater economic and social benefits within the contexts of national needs and priorities, as well as on hydrological boundaries.

Importantly, the Government, through national institutions will: (i) review water allocation periodically; (ii) revise allocations accordingly in view of socioeconomic development plans, especially pertinent to water resources, and subjected to strategic environmental assessments and sustainability appraisals of significant developments; and (iii) enforce efficient use of water resources that harmonizes greater economic and social benefits within the contexts of national needs and priorities, as well as on hydrological boundaries.

Water Supply and Sanitation

The Government through national, regional and local bodies, will adopt all possible measures to safeguard the health and well-being of the people of Guyana, and protect the ecological integrity of aquatic systems by:

  1. Facilitating improved access and availability of safe and affordable drinking water supplies.
  2. Promoting rainwater harvesting and conservation techniques.
  3. Protecting watersheds from environmental degradation.
  4. Financing water research to determine sustainable use of both surface and groundwater resources while identifying and evaluating threats to all freshwater sources.
  5. Improving the current capacity of public water and sewerage institutions to provide necessary drainage and sanitation, including treatment of domestic wastewater in the interest of public health.
  6. Empowering institutions to undertake their responsibilities for regulating the use of water to avoid wastage and control pollution by environmentally harmful human actions
  7. Empowering local governments, community groups and associations to enhance awareness among the people of Guyana, as well as improve monitoring sources of pollution and wastage at the local levels
  8. Implement a comprehensive public awareness and education programme on water conservation in light of the threats posed by global climate change.

Water for the Environment

The Government will consider as a priority environmental protection; restoration and enhancement measures consistent with the National Environmental Action Plan (2005); as well as the Water Management Plans that will be developed in response to specific conditions in the main hydrological regions. The Government of Guyana will give special attention to:

  1. Maintaining the integrity of the aquatic ecosystems.
  2. Preserving the quantity at levels compatible with demand and supply with regard for multiple uses.
  3. Managing surface run-off contribution to stream flow.
  4. Restoring the environment through reforestation and green infrastructure.
  5. Reducing sediment load from upland sources; improving riparian vegetation, and limiting livestock access to stabilise stream banks.
  6. Reducing land degradation.
  7. Protecting, enhancing, managing and restoring aquatic and terrestrial species and biological communities.
  8. Preserving the water quality of source waters within the watershed.
  9. Minimising or mitigating non-point source pollution of both surface and groundwater in the watershed.
  10. Conserving and protecting critical habitats within the watershed.
  11. Enforcing the “polluter pays” principle in the development of regulatory guidelines for all regulatory actions designed to protect public health and the environment.
  12. Regulating exploitation of ground water resources to ensure that discharge rates do not exceed the recharging possibilities.

Public and Private Partnerships

The Government recognises the importance of all stakeholders in IWRM: public and private sectors; communities and local groups; women; Indigenous communities; special needs and individuals. In this respect, all relevant stakeholders will have an important role to play in ensuring the sustainable management of Guyana’s water resources.

In an effort to give credence to the importance of the governance structures for water resources management, the Government will delineate the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders based on clearly defined principles.

Participation of the private sector will be encouraged in planning, development and management of water resources projects for diverse uses, wherever feasible. Further, policies and programmes of public and private sectors and agencies involving water resources will be coordinated with other public and private sector organisations to create synergies and reduce conflicts, and actions to promote corporate social responsibility will be incentivised. The Government will create the enabling environment (including capacity building programmes) for stakeholders to perform their roles effectively. In particular, public-private partnerships will be fostered to improve the quality and distribution of water and water-related services to all people of Guyana.

Water and Agriculture

In recognition of the critical role of water resources management in agricultural and, more importantly, food and nutrition security, greater consideration will be given to:

  1. The role of drainage and irrigation in the context of Guyana’s entire hydraulic system and its impact on the water balance of the country.
  2. The need for an increased role of local communities in the management of secondary drainage and irrigation systems.
  3. The establishment of surface water storage facilities for agricultural, domestic and other uses to inform efficient allocation during times of scarcity.
  4. Strengthening the Hydrometeorological Service both in terms of institutional infrastructure and personnel capacity building.
  5. Supporting and encouraging the formation of associations of farmers with responsibility for the operation and maintenance of secondary drainage and irrigation systems in their various localities.

Water for Energy

The Government of Guyana through the Guyana Energy Agency will facilitate the planning and development of hydropower. As practicable as possible, these hydropower projects will be planned and developed as multipurpose projects, with the basin as the unit of planning. Specifically, the Government will:

  1. Ensure that the development of the country’s hydropower potential is an integral part of the multipurpose uses of water.
  2. Ensure that hydropower development is affordable.
  3. Promote technical capacity building for local professionals, consultants and contractors involved in hydropower development to ensure sustainability of operations.
  4. Ensure hydropower development schemes are subject to sustainability appraisals as well as stakeholder considerations.

Emergency and Extreme Events/Flood Control and Management

In view of the current threats that climate variability and longer term climate change pose to water resources management in Guyana, the State will:

  1. Review current national legislative procedures, and guidelines for combining water-use and land-use planning.
  2. Develop and strengthen legislation to make environmental and social impact assessments mandatory in all significant developmental projects.
  3. Minimise the effects of climate variability and change as well as institute measures to mitigate the effects of, and prevent damage caused by extreme hydrological events (floods and droughts) in keeping with the National Climate Change Action Plan (2001).
  4. Draft Climate Resilience Strategy and Action Plan 2016

The Government will also take steps towards:

  1. Undertaking comprehensive development and management of the main rivers by means of a system of structural and non-structural measures.
  2. Developing early warning and flood-proofing systems to manage natural disasters like floods and droughts.
  3. Developing water resources of the major rivers for multipurpose use, including irrigation, fisheries, navigation, forestry, and aquatic wildlife.
  4. De-silting watercourses regularly to maintain navigation channels and proper drainage.
  5. Delineating water-stressed areas based on land characteristics and water availability from all sources for managing dry season demand.
  6. Initiating actions to protect the water quality and ensure efficiency of its use.
  7. Designating flood-risk zones and taking appropriate measures to provide desired levels of protection for life, property, vital infrastructure, agriculture and wetlands Ensuring that land-use planning/building regulations are adequate and enforced in respect of waterways and flood-prone areas.
  8. Providing water conservation structures of adequate capacity after carrying out environmental assessments taking, into account multiple uses (e.g. fisheries and tourism) and removing conflicts (e.g. fencing of intakes in dams to allow for restricted fishing).
  9. Ensuring rainwater harvesting techniques are incorporated into the building code and enforced.
  10. Ensuring implementation of mitigation strategies in consultation with stakeholders.

Climate Change Adaption and Mitigation

In recognition of the need for improved water resources management in the face of increasing climate variability and climate change , the policy measures that will be implemented by the Government of Guyana will be guided by the National Climate Change Action Plan 2001, and the National Adaptation Policy and Implementation Plan for Guyana 2001. Specifically, the two policy documents identify six actions as adaptation options and response strategies in the water sector:

  1. Undertake water conservation measures, including metering, the use of time-runs where the water supply may be staggered according to regions or sectors in the domestic/industrial sector.
  2. Continue, cautiously the development of new artesian wells in the interior regions for anticipated population migration from the coast.
  3. Introduce efficiency control and management practices for water reservoirs networks, especially those for agricultural use.
  4. Introduce scientific monitoring and management of irrigation and drainage systems.
  5. Improve water resources management for domestic storage, and water conservancies.
  6. Increase standards to enhance resilience of natural water systems through increased application of water standards and effective enforcement.

The Climate Resilience Strategy and Action Plan (CRSAP), developed in 2016, identified key climate risks and priority resilience-building actions and aimed to provide a comprehensive and overarching framework for adapting and building resilience to climate change impacts. The Strategy and Action Plan are underpinned by the five cross-cutting pillars of adaptation identified in Guyana’s Second National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), namely information, research and systematic observation; institutions and capacity building; policy and legal frameworks; infrastructure and technology; and finance.

The relationship between climate change mitigation measures and water is a reciprocal one. Water resource policies and measures can impact greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), while mitigation measures can influence management of water resources (for example, through hydropower dams, irrigation and drainage of cropland, wastewater treatment, and desalination). Guyana will therefore introduce effective measures aimed at increasing energy efficiency at the national and local levels.

Wastewater Management

Management of wastewater particularly in Georgetown and other urban areas in Guyana is critical to safeguarding the health of citizens of Guyana, as well as the bio-physical environment. Moreover, as a requirement of the Cartagena Convention and Land-Based Sources of Pollution Protocol, the Government of Guyana will increase investments and human capital in the following key areas related to waste water management:

  1. Institutional/technical capacity building.
  2. Revision of current policies, laws or other regulatory frameworks on wastewater management to reduce the extent of water pollution.
  3. Implementation of public education about waste water management.
  4. Monitoring of wastewater.
  5. Treatment of polluted water through appropriate technologies and techniques for the reuse and recycling of water.
  6. Expansion of the sewerage system.

Water Governance

The Government will give effect to integrated planning, development, and management of the water resources by facilitating and promoting a multi-sectoral, multi-disciplinary and participatory approach, primarily through the relevant national body comprising technicians who represent stakeholder institutions involved in water resources management. This body will oversee/coordinate all functions of IWRM, meaning not only Water Resources Management, but also water quality regulation, water and wastewater services and water service regulation. The latter will be done in collaboration with Public Utilities Commission.

The roles and functions of water-related agencies would be reviewed and where appropriate, existing institutions will be restructured or strengthened to ensure that sector plans are implemented efficiently. Additionally, special attention will be given to the (i) establishment of mechanisms to foster greater institutional collaboration at the national, regional and community levels through the issuance of specific directives; and (ii) separation of policy, planning, and regulatory functions from implementation and operational functions related to water resources in Guyana.

The Ocean Economy: Developing and Protecting Guyana’s Ocean Ecosystems

Guyana, being a coastal state, also has under its jurisdiction as afforded via the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a significant ocean area which equates to more than half of Guyana’s terrestrial area. Traditionally, Guyana has largely harnessed from its ocean, the fisheries resources, with its other major use being maritime transit. However, since 2015, with the confirmation of significant petroleum reserves, oil and gas are now added to this matrix. In addition, there is an emerging opportunity to enhance these traditional ocean activities, and equally to develop other resources which hold potential for future growth.

Sustainable Development

Guyana recognises that if its resources are collectively harnessed, the ocean offers a new frontier for economic development for the benefit of the citizens. Equally, it also provides many intangible services that are vital to human wellbeing. Therefore, the development of a Blue or Ocean Economy is a priority, from which some elements offer an opportunity to bridge the land-ocean nexus via low-carbon growth. The emphasis will be on sustainability and exploring new opportunities that will include tourism; expanding carbon sequestration and ecosystem opportunities in mangroves; sustainably managing fisheries stock; expanding the shipping and logistics sector, and exploring greater sovereignty via connectivity.

Biotechnology – Genetic Resources

The coast and deep-sea portions of Guyana’s marine ecosystem are not as extensively studied as terrestrial ones. Notwithstanding, it is well established that the marine ecosystems of the Guianas (Suriname, French Guiana, and Guyana), are very productive and show great species richness and biodiversity and by extension diverse marine genetic resources. The various genetic resources have multiple values including ecological, pharmaceutical, cosmetic and commercial values.

Ecosystem Services

Biodiversity is vital for the health and well-being of mankind. Plants, animals and micro-organisms form complex, interconnected webs of ecosystems and habitats, which in turn supply a myriad of ecosystem services upon which all life depends. Ecosystem services describe the multiple values of nature and biodiversity in terms of direct and indirect contributions to human well-being, such as food. They can be categorised as provisioning, regulating, supporting, and cultural services. A mapping of the current and potential services provided by the ocean in Guyana’s jurisdiction is beneficial and is recognised as critical information management in assisting the sustainability of the living resources.

Fisheries and Mariculture

With an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of approximately 136,000 km2, most of the fishery activities are concentrated on the continental shelf area and, to a small extent, the continental slope. Guyana has a very productive fisheries sector, with the shelf area unexploited. Fishing may be considered the second most important economic activity along the Atlantic coast. Exclusively, Guyanese fisherfolk dominate the subsistence and artisanal sectors, which are primarily conducted in the near-shore regions along the coast. Seafood is one of Guyana’s commodity exports, with marine fish and crustaceans having the highest tonnage exported over the last 20 years. Approximately 4,500 local artisanal fishers operate in the sector, 1,000 of whom are boat owners. A significant number of women are employed in this sector as well.

Recreational Tourism

Guyana is best known as an eco-tourism destination which is centred on activities mainly in the Hinterland regions. However, the ocean provides some niche options, one such being angling tourism. Angling — that is, recreational fishing with rod and line and charter boat fishing — constitutes a high-value and sustainable touristic activity in coastal regions. Its activities contribute income to coastal communities and is a subset of the overall value of the Ocean Economy. Guyana’s abundance of ocean biodiversity provides the required assets to potentially grow this activity into a feasible income generation scheme. Other ocean-based activities can also be part of the tourism appeal such as bird-watching in the mangroves, or tours. When these are added to some of the coastal attractions, it can drive a subset of Guyana’s tourism appeal.

Protecting Marine Life and Coastal Ecosystems

Protecting Marine Life and Coastal Ecosystems: Guyana places great importance on the sustainable use and conservation of marine resources. In this regard, Guyana has recently joined with other world leaders in signing on to the Global Oceans Alliance. The LCDS will support the protection and low-carbon development of marine and coastal ecosystems. This will be done by examining the ecosystems of the coastal and marine environment through marine spatial management and improving the capacity and knowledge of key stakeholders in these areas. Guyana will develop an Ocean Policy, Integrated Marine Management for Land-Based Pollution, and Marine Spatial Plan (MSP) and promote the establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

A non-invasive tourism model would be based in the empowerment of the locals, who would receive support and training so that they benefit from potential revenues, for example by offering homestay, bird-watching, research, and wilderness experiences.

The LCDS will support existing Governmental and Non-Governmental efforts (such as GMCS) that are aimed at protecting and restoring marine life and coastal ecosystems in partnership with coastal communities.

Maritime Shipping, Logistics and Trade

Maritime trade is indispensable for global growth and prosperity in an era of globalisation and trade liberalisation. According to UNTAD (2020), approximately 80% of world trade by volume and more than 70% by value is seaborne. With much of the population of Guyana in the coastal zone, and few road connections to neighbouring countries, maritime trade and shipping is the number one connection that Guyana has to the world. Guyana’s shipping services largely comprise three main groups:

  1. Inter-island transport, which is often undertaken by small “tramp” vessels, serving the larger islands.
  2. Short-sea shipping, which connects Guyana with the other Caribbean and North American transhipment centres.
  3. Deep-sea shipping, which uses larger vessels to transport light, sweet crude oil cargo directly from Guyana to its final destinations in USA and Asia.

The trends emerging in this sector, are multi-growth areas such as increased port calls, larger vessel size, and increased container demand. These show its growing significance as a critical enabling component to support the auxiliary services and demands from various sectors. With the high growth forecast for the economy, the importance of having modernised ports are even more critical to Guyana’s development.

Collectively, these activities are foreseen to support Guyana’s economic transformation. The broad assessment above points to the need for more in-depth information on Guyana’s stocktaking of its ocean economy, its governance readiness to embrace this emerging frontier, its plan for equitable inclusion of its citizens and the required planning and enforcement needs. Against this backdrop, the overall strategic priority is formulated along with the action areas.

Strategic Priority: Contribute to the growth of the economy of Guyana by enhancing the utilisation and management of its ocean economy through modernised and efficient policy, legal, regulatory, and institutional frameworks informed by data and information, grounded in sustainable development principles.

Action Area One: Understanding Options for Growth: Conduct a baseline assessment to map the current and potential areas of ocean activities which have economic leverage, environmental benefits and those that are important in supporting human well-being. Identify areas to improve the country’s readiness.

Action Area Two: National Ocean Policy: Develop a National Ocean Policy based on the outcomes of Action Area One, taking into consideration, to the extent possible, the required alignment to the relevant sector-based policies to ensure synergy.

Action Area Three: Enhance governance readiness to ensure development of the ocean economy and the accompanying required enforcement and compliance regimes to support sustainable management. This includes strengthening the institutional capabilities.

Action Area Four: Develop the required guidelines and tools to support sustainable management vis-à-vis:

  • Enhance the knowledge-base through the generation of information and research to bridge the science-policy interface.
  • Enhance and strengthen the collaboration network among Government and relevant institutions and private sector operators to support a regime of data sharing to generate research and increase our understanding of the oceans.
  • Leverage investment via a plan to support various sector growth in the ocean.
  • Assess and support the required capacity development to ensure holistic inclusion of its citizens in the ocean economy in all tiers of planning, management and entrepreneurship.
  • Establish or integrate Marine Spatial Planning to provide information on use, and to support growth of all sectors while simultaneously addressing any possible resource use conflicts.
  • Develop a national system or partner with existing regional capabilities to undertake real-time ocean monitoring and surveillance for pollution-related issues and operational forecasting system.
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