When it comes to Environmental Protection, your voice Counts: Part 1

As citizens of this beautiful country, we have an important role when it comes to matters concerning the environment and our health. The environment is everybody’s business, since we all depend on it in one way or another. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is committed to promoting sound environment management and sustainable use of Guyana’s natural resources. Equally, the Agency works to promote environmental awareness and public participation in developmental activities. Through our various campaigns, publications, ads, radio/TV interviews/programmes, EPA seeks to encourage all Guyanese to share their views, and make recommendations to ensure developmental projects have minimal adverse impacts on human health and the Environment.
You would agree that all developmental projects have some impact on the environment. However, based on the nature of some projects, the impact might be greater than others. Therefore, the EPA encourages all citizens to develop an interest in what’s happening around them. Be in the know, and share your views on the projects especially to those requiring an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). These are usually projects where the potential impacts may be significant, or are unknown.
This week’s article will highlight one of the many ways members of the public can participate in the decision making process to ensure that projects are implemented in a way that would not cause considerable damage to the environment and human health.

Read public notices
Once someone applies to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for an Environmental Authorisation, and it is decided whether or not the person needs to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the project is published in the newspapers. This allows members of the public to be aware of the project. A summary of the project will also be found on the Agency’s website. The public has the opportunity to share concerns, comments, recommendations etc., before the project commences.

Attend public scoping meetings
What is a Public Scoping Meeting?
As part of the name suggests, it is a meeting that specifically targets members of the public. When a developer/project proponent applies to the EPA for Environmental Authorisation to execute a proposed project, and the EPA determines that an EIA is required, as part of this process, such a meeting is necessary. This meeting provides the opportunity for residents of communities surrounding the proposed project site to provide their valuable suggestions, recommendations and concerns about the project idea. At a scoping meeting, the Developer and officials from the EPA are there to hear your thoughts about possible environmental impacts that should guide the EIA study.

East Bank- East Coast (Diamond/Ogle) Road Linkage Project
Recently, the Agency held two public scooping meetings, one at the Better Hope Community Centre on the East Coast and the other at Grove/Diamond Primary School on the East Bank, in an effort to engage the public on the Road Linkage Project. During the meetings, discussions were held around the project; what it entails and impacts to the environment. Citizens got a chance to share ways the project might affect their livelihood. In addition, the audience members were encouraged to share their opinions and ideas for developing the project.
By reading public notices and attending public scoping meetings, citizens have a first-hand input into project development in Guyana. These inputs are necessary because, after a project has been completed, its impacts remain.
Join us next week, when we will examine public scoping meetings further, including who organises these, what to expect etc. The Agency is committed to engaging citizens in matters of the environment, and we encourage persons to share their viewpoints on all projects.

You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O ECEA Programme, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, GEORGETOWN, or email us at: [email protected] or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.