In his address at the Seventh Summit of Heads of State and of Government of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) in Havana, Cuba, on Saturday, President David Granger posited that the challenges of sustainable development, climate change and peace in the Caribbean Basin cannot be met without also addressing security challenges within.
“Security is essential to peace. Peace is essential to sustainable development. Development cannot be sustained in situations of threats to a country’s territory, sovereignty and independence,” the Guyanese Head of State pointed out.
The ACS considers the Caribbean Sea as part of the patrimony of the Region, as such, Granger noted that the resources of the Caribbean Sea, if they are to contribute to the development of the Region, must be preserved and protected against environmental damage and must be sustainably developed for the benefit the region.
However, he explained that the Caribbean Sea can only be sustainably developed and protected from contamination if the entire Region is preserved as a ‘zone of peace’.
“Rising sea levels, floods and droughts are associated with climate change. The warming of our oceans increases the intensity and frequency of tropical storms, cyclones and hurricanes. The destruction, devastation, loss of lives and livelihoods resulting from natural disasters can create security crises,” the President stated.
According to the Guyanese Head of State, such environmental hazards can lead to the desertification of wetlands, destruction of valuable eco-systems and depletion of natural assets. He added too that these disasters can also result in food shortages and trigger conflict and mass migration, thus occasioning unmanageable security crises.
On this note, Granger outlined that security cannot be dispensed with ease or be ignored. He underscored that it is essential to any strategy to promote sustainable development and to arrest the adverse effects of climate change.
“Sustainable development through the prudent management of resources, the promotion of conservation, and the preservation of the Region’s rich biodiversity contribute to the fight against climate change,” he stated.
The President further remarked that with Guyana having set aside 371,000 hectares of pristine rainforests to the Commonwealth to promote the sustainable management of its forests, the country has become part of the “lungs of the earth”. He stressed too that Guyana provides ecological services to all humanity, while noting that every country in the region must contribute to sustainable development and to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“Guyana’s contributions, however, cannot be divorced from action to address the security concerns that threaten sustainable development and those that result from climate change,” he said. The President went on to outline that security remains a primary consideration in the pursuit of sustainable development and in the fight against climate change.
Against this backdrop, he reiterates Guyana’s desire “to ensure, that in addressing the challenges that confront our region, the important security concerns, so essential to most issues, will not be ignored or bypassed.”
Moreover, Granger pointed to the fact that the summit is being held in Havana, the capital of a country which has been undaunted in defending the rights of all countries to pursue their own course of development, free from threats and intimidation.
On a lighter note, he congratulated St Lucian diplomat Dr June Soomer on her election as the incoming Secretary General. He extended wishes for her success while pledging Guyana’s support during her tenure.