Linking Biodiversity Conservation with Key Economic Sectors in Guyana

Posted on
24 November 2022
Under the BIODEV2030 initiative, WWF-Guianas held a Biodiversity Engagement Consolidation event that links key economic sectors to the mainstreaming of biodiversity. The event saw participation from several government agencies, private sector organisations, civil society organisations, academia, and indigenous groups, who were presented with the results and outcomes of the BioDev 2030 project.   
The consolidation event is considered to be the crossroads for the Biodev2030 Mainstreaming Biodiversity across Economic Sectors Project, where an overall assessment of the accomplishments is made, and what the next steps are for Guyana. The project mainly focuses on mainstreaming biodiversity in the agriculture and gold mining sectors, to reduce pressures and threats on the environment created by activities within those sectors.

Speaking at the event, WWF-Governance coordinator, Dr Devon Dublin, highlighted the importance of developing a framework for the various actors to work together, he stated that “Multiple agencies are already adopting various approaches to reduce threats to biodiversity, but this has been happening in silos. What is needed in Guyana is a more consolidated approach governed by a legislative policy framework that allows all stakeholders within the respective sectors to work together to reach their environmental sustainability goals”.

Present at the event were representatives from several local agencies who participated in panel discussions, where they provided insight into the efforts their respective agencies are making to realize their biodiversity goals. The representatives included, Mr. Gavin Ramnarain, Head of Agriculture Research Center, Guysuco; Mr. Badrie Persaud, General Manager GRDB; Ms. Trecia David-Garnath, Registrar Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals Board; Mr. Darcy Waldron, Head of the Environmental Unit, GGMC; Mr. Avalon Jagnandan, General Manager and Mr. William Woolford, Technical Consultant, GGDMA.

High on the agenda during the discussions, was the reduction and regulation of use of harmful chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, weedicides) used in agriculture, and the promotion of the use of biopesticides, biofertilizers and integrated pest management (IPM) in farming. Whilst for the gold mining sector, representatives of the various agencies discussed techniques to reduce environmental impacts through measures such as the reduction and recycling of the use of cyanide and mercury and the adoption of mercury-free techniques in mining operations.

In recognising the importance of the abundant minerals, resources, and rich biological diversity to the wellbeing of Guyanese and maintaining a healthy economy, bringing together multiple sectors is seen as a significant step towards preserving the country’s natural wealth. At the meeting, there was consensus among the stakeholders that novel approaches are needed to tackle the growing threat of increased biodiversity loss, and the need to improve the effectiveness of the multi-stakeholder and collaborative approach to ensuring sustainable development of key sectors of the economy.

Aiesha Williams, country manager of WWF-Guianas, Guyana office, remarked that, “The majority of our communities’ livelihood activities are intertwined with the rich natural resources, as well as most of the economic sectors.  With Guyana aiming to advance its low-carbon economy by 2030, and with commitments to progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Convention on Biological Diversity and Post 2020 Biodiversity Framework, we at WWF believe that biodiversity conservation is an important prerequisite to achieving low carbon and sustainable development, and as such it is vital for this to be integrated into all aspects of development and economic sectors”.

The Biodiversity Engagement Consolidation event collated feedback and explored opportunities of working together after a series of sector-specific focus groups discussions, bilateral interviews and meetings, and multi-stakeholder work sessions of the BioDev Project over the past 24 months. The outcomes and results of the entire project including those of the Consolidation event will be fed into our national reports for the Convention on Biological Diversity through the EPA and will be instrumental in developing policy briefs to take the process forward.

In delivering closing remarks at the event, Ms Sabina Khan, Regional Conservation Director of WWF-Guianas said that “WWF-Guianas looks forward to maintaining this momentum to take the outputs to the next logical and necessary step – of securing and supporting the implementation of voluntary commitments for biodiversity mainstreaming across all economic sectors in Guyana, and also throughout the Guianas as a region.

The BioDev Project
BIODEV2030 is an experimental approach implemented in 16 pilot countries with multiple socioeconomic, environmental and geographic contexts. It aims to provide the governments of each country with the means to identify and lead, along with the private sector and civil society, profound changes in those sectors of the economy with a strategic impact on development and on the biodiversity of the country.
The project is financially supported by the French Development Agency (AFD) and coordinated by Expertise France, through WWF.  The project is global pilot which is run in 16 countries and aims to address the biodiversity crisis through research and updating the science that underpins decision making on biodiversity; supporting private sector commitment and actions for biodiversity; and developing a global apex target for biodiversity. Further, the project also seeks to understand the “footprint” of production and consumption – that is accounting for all aspects of pressure on the natural systems and addressing these impacts, bringing them within safe boundaries by 2030.