Food security, climate change will feature heavily in sustainable development planning – Ali

…US pledges further support as Guyana builds capacity

Issues such as food security and climate change will feature heavily in sustainable development planning, even as the University of Guyana (UG) launched its Master’s degree programme in Strategic Development studies at the George Walcott Lecture Theatre.

President Dr Irfaan Ali

President Dr Irfaan Ali, who was the keynote speaker at the launching, made this pronouncement. In his presentation, he emphasised the importance of issues of food security and climate change, as well as issues such as water scarcity, particularly to Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
“Food security, understanding what is the regional approach when we say 25 by 2025. What is the immediate approach and what is the long-term agenda for the region? Understanding what are the challenges and constraints that are there, that disallowed us from achieving this in the past, so that framing future policies would allow us to address those challenges.”

US Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch

“We cannot speak about sustainable development without speaking about issues like food security, climate change, water scarcity. These are all issues directly related to strategic development studies,” the President said.
According to President Ali, partnership is an important aspect of the programme, not only between the University of Guyana and the armed services, but also the partnership with the international community.
“National and strategic defence, in my view, must provide for a seamless border. A seamless border does not mean a border that anyone can go through. But a seamless border is an imaginary line in which those on both sides of the line agree on a set of values, principles and goals governing that line.”
“And both sides agree that the line creates a seamless opportunity for the achievement of those goals. Whether it is trade agreements, diplomacy, collaboration and security, that line is a defining line. That small line can create huge wars and poverty and injustice. So, we have to be careful how we manage that line,” he added.

According to President Ali, there cannot be a discriminatory attitude based on who approaches the line. He noted that enough attention has not been paid to this issue globally and as such, he challenged the first batch of students to examine the issue and come up with solutions.
He also spoke of supply chain constraints and its impact on the global village. President Ali pointed out that like it or not, Guyana is a part of that global village and thus, is not immune to these developments… an apparent reference to the rise in cost of living that has impacted Guyana.
“National development cannot be isolated from globalisation… one of the things we really have to look at is globalisation and understanding the context and impact. We all like to say we live in a global village, but still, we fail to understand why we have cost of living issues now. This is part of the global environment in which we live in.”
“We don’t turn on a switch when we want to be part of the global environment and turn off a switch when we don’t want to. We have to be consistent. That is why every nation must define the principles, the value system they will stand on.”
According to Ali, it is hoped that the programme would not be restricted for Guyana but for all of Caricom. He noted the importance of the University appreciating what the full agenda of regional integration entails.

US Ambassador
Meanwhile in her address to attendees, United States (US) Ambassador to Guyana Sarah-Ann Lynch lauded the US-Guyana security cooperation and the successes it has had over the years. She pointed to the Tradewinds exercise which was held last year.
“In Guyana, the US has helped build the capacity of public institutions like the Defence Force, the Police Force, the Guyana Revenue Authority, the justice sector, to increase institutional transparency and accountability to Guyanese citizens, thereby decreasing opportunities for corruption.”
“We’ve also encouraged civil society organisations to develop and grow, therefore hold Government to be transparent and accountability and responsive to citizen needs, to further reduce corruption.”
According to Lynch, the failure of democracy to deliver can only exacerbate these outcomes. However, she noted the importance of information sharing, among other things, between regional partners.
“The second challenge is civilian security. Violence perpetrated by transnational criminal organisations and gangs can contribute to waning faith in democratic institutions; can suppress economic opportunities and can drive irregular migration.”
The diplomat noted that even as Guyana continues to build its security strategy, the US would remain a dedicated development partner. According to her, the Master’s programme being launched is of critical importance to Guyana at this juncture of its development. (G3)