Dept of Environment, Climate Change Office to be merged

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo on Friday last announced that Government would be merging the Department of Environment and the Office of Climate Change to ensure a focused approach in tackling climate change.
Jagdeo disclosed that there had been a great deal of overlap between the two existing departments.
“A lot of people working on projects in a very isolated way, almost in silos without any order or regard as to the outcome. So, there has not been a clearly defined goal of what we want to achieve.”
According to the Vice President, the Green State Development Strategy formulated by the APNU/AFC Administration was loosely defined and without a project for it to be effective. He said many people were clueless about how their work fitted into the strategy based on the feedback he received.
Jagdeo related that President Irfaan Ali made it clear that the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) would be the main document guiding the country’s climate actions domestically.
He noted that through the LCDS, Guyana was able to secure funding from Norway through the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) during the previous PPP/C stint in office. The Government, he said, is working to revitalise that partnership.
“We have written to Norway; we got a reply, so we are looking to re-engage with Norway soon on the engagements that we have and a review of the last programme. We are looking to negotiate a new programme that will bring additional funding for the country and initiatives.”
Under GRIF, projects identified included grants to small businesses, a centre for biodiversity studies, ICT for vulnerable communities and Amerindian Land Titling.
“We have spent the last few months reviewing them because they are stalled. Even though we had US$17 million assigned to the telecommunications project, US$4 million has been spent, but a lot of the equipment is just sitting in a bond. So, we now have to swiftly get these 200 hubs created in the hinterland areas,” he added.
Meanwhile, Vice President Jagdeo revealed that the previous APNU/AFC Administration misused money received through the Fund.
“Money that [Guyana] earned from Norway was spent on hosting conventions… a lot of trips for the staff at Lands and Surveys to travel the world without focusing on the things that matter… I am telling you this is because we stood still for five years and we have just had a few short months to re-engage in this area,” he disclosed.
The LCDS, he said, would be expanded in the areas of biodiversity, water management and other sectors. Jagdeo added that the Government is creating a coordinated and efficient mechanism to deal with climate and environment-related issues. (Extracted and modified from the Department of Public Information)