EPA Head urges channelling “eco-anxiety into cautious optimism”

…as annual Green Walk held across Guyana ahead of World Environment Day

In the face of existential threats from various phenomenon such as climate change, Guyanese are being urged to adopt sustainable actions that would ensure a better future.
This call was made by Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Kemraj Parsram, on Sunday at the annual Green Walk in Georgetown – held ahead of the June 5 observance of World Environment Day 2024.
World Environment Day is designated by the United Nations (UN) to raise awareness on the need for collective climate action to protect and restore the planet. The theme of this year’s observance is “land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience.”
Sunday’s Green Walk in Georgetown saw participation from schools, the private sector and the public sector including ministries and state agencies. The approximately 80-member contingent encouraged patrons and onlookers to ‘save the earth and protect the forest.’
Addressing the gathering in the National Park following the march, the EPA Executive Director pointed out that threats such as extreme droughts and floods, biodiversity loss, land degradation and other environmental issues are real and this “doom and gloom” narrative can be overwhelming.

Participants during Sunday’s Green Walk in observance of World Environment Day 2024

However, he outlined how persons can transform their ‘eco-anxiety’ into ‘cautious optimism’ by taking meaningful steps towards a sustainable future instead of harbouring on the negatives.
“Acknowledge your anxiety but don’t let it paralyse you, instead let it propel you to action. Engage with your community, educate yourselves on sustainable practices and support and participate in innovative environmental stewardship.”
“Replacing eco-anxiety with cautious optimism doesn’t mean ignoring the gravity of our situation. It means that believing in our collective adaptability, innovation and perseverance. And it’s about seeing each step forward no matter how small it is as a victory in the larger battle for our planet’s future,” Parsram stated.
The EPA Head went onto to highlight a case at Coomaka, North-West District in Region One (Barima-Waini), where the impact of climate change is evident in the recent drought and the wild/forest fires experienced.
He noted that, despite communities there engaging in traditional farming methods and low deforestation rates, the farming community was particularly impacted by these events. They struggled with declining yields and long periods of drought.
One of the affected farmers, 78-year-old Ernest managed to transform his situation into one of resilience and innovation.

The Region Two leg of the Green Walk on Sunday

According to Parsram, with support from the Agriculture Extension Officers and the Carbon Credit Funds, Ernest and his community invested in rainwater harvesting and storage, and diversified their cash crops beyond cassava. They are also exploring sustainable farming practices to combat soil degradation and harnessing the energy of the sun.
“Today, something remarkable is happening. The palpable sense of eco-anxiety is shifting. People who were once powerless are now part of community-driven movement. Ernest is displaying cautious optimism and his outlook is contagious, spreading hope and determination throughout his village,” the EPA Head noted.
This transformation, Parsram pointed out, is not just environmental. He said Ernest’s community discovered that by taking action, no matter how small, they could make a difference.
“They learned that resilience comes from unity, innovation and the willingness to embrace change. This story reflects real possibilities. It’s a testament to what can happen when we channel our anxiety into proactive, positive change and work together – government community and the private sector all.”
“As we leave here today… let’s be inspired by the power of community, the importance of small actions and the belief that we can turn the tide. Together, we can replace eco-anxiety with cautious optimism and work towards a resilient and thriving Guyana,” the EPA’s Executive Director implored.
In addition to Georgetown, the EPA’s annual Green Walk was also held across Guyana including in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) on June 2.
Following the walk, which began at 6:00h, started near Reliance Ballfield in Reliance and concluded at the Anna Regina Car Park tarmac in Anna Regina, where a short programme was held.
Speaking there, an EPA representative, Surujpaul Singh, expressed gratitude to the participants for their involvement in the walk and for observing World Environment Day in the region.
“We are here on the Essequibo Coast celebrating World Environment Day …This is one of our signature events that we usually host to observe the day. Thank you for coming out, braving the weather, and being here to celebrate this milestone with us,” Singh said.
He emphasised the significance of World Environment Day, noting, June 5th is celebrated as World Environment Day, the day the EPA was actually formed. Singh further highlighted the focus on global issues such as land degradation and its impact on biodiversity and freshwater resources.
“Our Environment Day is dedicated to raising awareness of critical environmental issues, from climate change to chemical pollution. This day serves to mobilise hundreds of people to take action to protect the planet.”
World Environment Day was first celebrated in 1973, and for 52 years, the United Nations has marked this day to raise awareness of critical environmental issues.
The Green Walk event also featured awards for the best chant, best banner, largest contingent, consistency, and uniformity. (G8)