– integrates 6 agencies
President David Granger was on hand on Wednesday to formally launch the Department of Environment, one of several sub-agencies and ministries which fall under the preview of the Ministry of the Presidency, and is designed to integrate all agencies with an environmental mandate. This Department is housed in a building at High Street Kingston, opposite Red House.
Director of the Environment Department, Ndibi Schweirs, informed those present at the launch that the work of six agencies has been subsumed into the Department to correct anomalies which relate to differing policy objectives and approaches to matters that concern the country’s environment issues. These agencies are the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Protected Areas Commission, National Parks Commission, Wildlife Commission, and the offices of Climate Change and Project Management.
Ms. Schweirs stressed that this Department will work with all Government agencies and civil society and other interest groups to ensure that the country has environmental policies in all the regions.
“It also represents Government’s commitment to ensuring a holistic and rationalized approach to environmental conservation and management, through the coordination and integration of agencies with an environmental mandate into a unified unit that can effectively respond to the green economy and concept of sustainable development,” she stressed.
President Granger, who delivered the key address, highlighted the importance of Guyana to the sustenance of the world’s environment. To this end, he stressed that Guyana’s forest assists the globe in the regulation of climate by reducing carbon emissions and balancing oxygen.
“We are part of the lungs of the earth,” Granger noted.
He, however, said that the Department of the Environment must do its work.
“Our grasslands, wetlands, highlands, coastal zone, mudflats, rain forest, rivers are all under threat, and we need a strong permanent institution to preserve and protect and sustainably manage our biodiversity,” he added.
The Head of State also noted that Guyana must improve on solid waste management and disposal practices.
Meanwhile, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said the Ministry of the Presidency is fully behind the newly established Department. Highlighting the timeliness of the agency’s functioning, Harmon praised the country’s recent acceptance as a member of the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), an initiative which was launched at Rio Plus 20 in 2013.
“Our acceptance to this initiative is timely, given our own push towards achieving a sustainable green economy. It will, no doubt, provide us with the necessary and needed support to reframe our economic policies and practices to foster economic growth,” he added.
The Department of Environment was gazetted on September 1, 2016.