PM Phillips calls for collective action to tackle climate change and protect the earth for future generations

Dear Editor,
Like President Dr. Irfaan Ali and former President and Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, the Prime Minister, former Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Brigadier Mark Phillips, has made the defence of Guyana’s territory against the spurious claim to more than two-thirds of it by the Maduro regime his primary concern and focus.
For more than two decades, former President Jagdeo has been at the forefront of the border controversy. Today the mantle has been passed to President Dr Ali. Our leaders have always placed Guyana’s interests ahead of theirs, and they have articulated to the nation that the Government will, in any circumstance, spare no effort and will use any and every means possible to defend Guyana’s territory against Venezuela or any other international actor.
This was expressed by Prime Minister Phillips on November 1, 2023, when he informed the Extraordinary Special Session of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) that Guyana is a peaceful country that respects the rule of law, and that Venezuela’s claim to the Essequibo region poses a serious and dangerous threat, not only to Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, but also to its development prospects and to regional peace and stability.
Echoing President Dr. Ali’s words, the former Army Chief has made it very clear to the members of the OAS Permanent Council that Guyana’s territory is non-negotiable, and not an inch will be yielded to Venezuela.
Brigadier Phillips apprised the OAS that since the discovery of oil in Essequibo six years ago, Venezuela has intensified its campaign of intimidation and threats to use force to annex Essequibo and discredit the 1899 Arbitral Award.
The PM has wisely told the OAS Council that there is no ambiguity concerning the facts of the border controversy, because the 1899 Arbitral Award which determined the boundaries between the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela continues to be the legally binding instrument that remains in effect. And even though the case is actively before the ICJ, Venezuela has declared that it will not be bound by the ICJ ruling.
In putting forth Guyana’s case, Prime Minister Phillips candidly told the Permanent Council of the OAS that the Government and people of Guyana are attentive and vigilant of the intentions of the Maduro regime’s threats to use force to unilaterally annex more than two-thirds of Guyana’s territory; which would not only threaten the peace, stability and security of Guyana, but also the entire Caribbean region.
Prime Minister Phillips’s commitment to advancing Guyana’s interests was evident at the 23rd edition of the World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS), held in New Delhi, India between February 7 and 9, 2024, where he affirmed Guyana’s dedication to sustainable development not only in words, but in action. Expressing concerns over the looming threat of climate change globally, PM Phillips emphasized that economic progress must be harmonised with a firm commitment to sustainable development in order to leave a secure future for all.
He acknowledged that the challenges the world faces are daunting, but said they are not insurmountable, and that environmental stewardship and visionary leadership are indispensable elements for fostering collective action to combat climate change. He intoned that in balancing economic growth with environmental protection, Guyana serves as a beacon of inspiration for the world.
Prioritizing the relationship between India and Guyana, the Prime Minister asserted that both countries have been focusing on building a resilient and sustainable future. Focusing on the theme of the World Sustainable Development Summit 2024, Brigadier Phillips genuinely appealed to the leaders present that, despite their differences and challenges, they are obligated and beholden to the peoples of their respective countries and to the peoples of the world to forge lasting and meaningful partnerships, and them must do everything in their power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contain climate change and its devastating impact on the earth.
Once again, the Honourable Prime Minister Mark Phillips, in his patriotic fervour, has placed Guyana’s interests first. Addressing the 3rd Iteration of the Guiana Shield Dialogue at the Guyana Marriott Hotel, PM Phillips called for collective action to protect the territorial integrity of members of the Guiana Shield, which encompasses Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Venezuela, Brazil, and parts of Colombia. He highlighted the importance of the Guiana Shield, and emphasized that every effort must be made to safeguard it as one of the last wild places on earth, and which is considered the greenhouse of the world in that it contains one of the largest rainforests on earth, with regional and global significance and with a wealth of natural resources, including oil, natural gas, diamonds, bauxite, manganese, and gold, among others.
The Prime Minister stressed the importance of preserving the Guiana Shield, and urged all participants to act towards this goal by strengthening their commitment to preserving the Shield, as exemplified by initiatives like the Guyana Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), which is expected to yield positive results by 2030.
The Prime Minister warned that the Guiana Shield faces grave threats that require a united regional response. He pointed to challenges like deforestation, unlawful mining, illegal resource extraction, climate change impacts, habitat fragmentation due to development, and wildlife trafficking, to name a few. He cautioned that while the challenges are great, collective action is urgently needed to protect the untouched biodiversity and ecological integrity of the Guiana Shield for future generations.
It was one of the most inspiring and invigorating speeches by Prime Minister Phillips, who counselled that stronger collaboration and innovation are vital for shared prosperity, environmental sustainability, and tackling climate change.

Dr Asquith Rose