‘Revenues of oil and gas must trigger green economy'

Posted on 30 October 2020
Guianas’ Green Economy Dialogue Poster
© WWF-Guianas
Oil discoveries in recent years in Suriname and Guyana have revived the discussion regarding whether the oil and gas industry can contribute to the development of a green economy. It is against this backdrop that on 29 October 2020 WWF Guianas organized the Guianas’ Green Economy Dialogue, a webinar to create change in the Guianas towards a green and just future.
Speakers of the webinar included the Director of WWF Guianas – Mr. David Singh, CEO and General Manager of national oil company in Suriname Staatsolie Maatschappij Suriname N.V. – Mr. Rudolf Elias and the Chair of the Private Sector Commission of Guyana – Mr. Nicolas Boyer.
Green economy
The general opinion among the speakers was that it is indeed possible for the oil and gas sector to contribute to a green economy which, according to the United Nations, is a low carbon, resource efficient economy which includes environmentally responsible behavior and is a socially inclusive economy provided, however, that certain preconditions are complied with. WWF added that as a matter of principle it is of the opinion that oil and gas should remain unexploited, given the threat of climate change. But if it is to be exploited the revenues should be invested in building a diversified green and just economy.

For oil and gas to contribute to low carbon and green economies, oil must be developed only as an important contributor and not the central pillar of economic development for the Guianas. Furthermore, the countries in the Guianas need to ensure that the revenues of oil are sustainably managed to trigger a green and just economy. This includes sustainable management of natural resources, economic diversification social inclusiveness within the multi-ethnic societies.
Natural resources
An important factor is the fact while other natural resources such as gold, bauxite and oil are finite resources, the biodiversity of the Guianas can generate wealth for many generations to come. Both Suriname and Guyana are in the top 5 countries in terms of freshwater and forest per capita. That is why it is important take to action now to preserve the environment.
Also, a broad national discussion with all relevant stakeholders will be required to discuss how the revenues will be spent. Clear development priorities need to be set and key policies need to be in place as well as transparent government procurement systems that will allow citizens to monitor whether the funds are spent as agreed. Key policies include a Sovereign Wealth Fund and a clear understanding on how much of the revenues from the oil offshore will be allocated to this fund and how much will be used on parts of the economy in a way that it will unlock other sectors.
A coordinated collaboration between Suriname and Guyana should be used to unlock the potential of this momentum and come to a strategy to monetize the oil industry while remaining green countries. The Guianas should and can be model, change the paradigm and be world leading in terms of how to develop the oil industry and still actively pursue a green economy.
Guianas’ Green Economy Dialogue Poster
© WWF-Guianas Enlarge