The local Private Sector and the Government of Guyana must redouble their efforts to ensure that no stone is left unturned in transforming Guyana into a modern and resilient “green economy” that caters to the socioeconomic needs of its citizenry in an environmentally sustainable manner.
This is critical, because Guyana has unparalleled opportunities for green business development, and immense potential to be a green business leader, not follower. It is therefore imperative for the Private Sector Commission (PSC) to be active partners in the effort to realise the immense potential of green business opportunities.
This must be done against the backdrop of Guyana’s historic offer of the Iwokrama Rainforest to the Commonwealth as a laboratory for sustainable forest management, and its crafting and implementing of one of the developing world’s first Low Carbon Development Strategies. These are, no doubt, examples of how it has led the way already in the area of green policy creation, environmental sustainability, and the fight against climate change.
Also, the move with the Kingdom of Norway, which saw the setting up of the world’s second largest international partnership on climate change and sustainable forests’ management, and, more recently, Government’s commitment to a green development path through the Green State Development Strategy are other examples of how Guyana has made a reputation for itself across the world as a green leader.
There is still further potential to be grasped from these initiatives – for business, for Government, and for communities across Guyana.
It is no secret, too, that in the manufacturing sector, energy efficiency measures and behavioural change were leading to reduced energy costs in other parts of the world, and many local businesses were moving towards hybrid systems utilising solar technology. And while the Private Sector could – and should – make progress on its own initiative, its ability to deliver sustainable development outcomes could be elevated through the right kind of enabling environment and, crucially, through public-private partnerships.
Additionally, at the policy level, to this day, the Guyana-Norway partnership is a model for forest countries across the world, because of its central themes — protecting forests; earning revenue; using revenue to diversify and green the economy; building resilience to climate change – which were radical back then, but are now the goals that are recognised by others.
There is a commitment by Government to power our economy through renewable energy, and several initiatives are being pursued. The LCDS, featuring the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project and the GSDS, opens the door to other options in the future. There is broad consensus on the key economic green sectors, and much work has been done on environmental management systems and conservation of biodiversity. Put together, this is a platform for ambition, not incremental change.
Many of our country’s most exciting economic development sectors were outlined originally in the National Development Strategy, and subsequently in the National Competitiveness Strategy.
The LCDS drew on the National Competitiveness Strategy to set out several low-carbon growth areas, one of them being business process outsourcing. Through a combination of policy and public-private partnerships, we have seen tremendous growth in the business process outsourcing sector, with international operators investing and creating thousands of jobs. It is possible for key sectors that we recognise today as green growth sectors to be transformed in a relatively short period of time if the enabling environment is in place to encourage investment.
Recall, too, that the Government has expressed its intention to continue this theme of developing green economic sectors, and to support initiatives in this regard.
All Guyanese should be proud of what we have achieved over many years, but the Private Sector and Government’s challenge in the months ahead is to ask, ‘What do we need to do to further support greening of businesses and achieving this ambition?’
Guyana needs to work towards building public-private partnerships for green projects, and while Government has already initiated several incentive measures to encourage investments in green technologies, consideration should be given to expanding incentives and to considering performance benefits as a means of encouraging businesses.
We should work together to push for an internationally recognisable Guyana Brand to act as a Green Label for Guyanese products, which takes on board all our efforts; for example on EITI, EU-FLEGT, having one of the lowest deforestation rates in the world, commitment to renewable energy, etc. Costa Rica and other countries have made progress with this, but it must be argued that Guyana has the potential for a world-leading brand.
There is still need for the country to commence a genuine and well-thought-out National Programme for the Greening of Businesses, which can result in the type of outcomes that we seek.