ECHO conference targets businesses, gets poor response
The Environmental Community Health Organization (ECHO) yesterday hosted an environmental conference targeting the business community and consumers.
In addition to the poor representation from the Private Sector Commission (PSC), the body’s Chairman, Ramesh Dookhoo, who was slated to speak on the approaches used by local corporations to ensure the integrity of the health of the environment, was not in attendance.
The objectives of the conference included raising awareness on current environmental issues among the business community and consumers; soliciting cooperation in protecting the natural environment; and encouraging consumers to be environmentally alert.
The conference was held at Cara Lodge, Georgetown, under the theme ‘Uniting against poor environmental practices; protecting our communities; developing Guyana in this era of climate change’.
Guyana struggles with the challenge of clearing plastic materials including bottles and bags from canals which disrupt the free flow of water.
Executive Director of ECHO, Royston King, told the gathering that “plastic is suffocating the environment. It is convenient but has adverse effect on human health, land, sea, and air. Between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year and most plastic bags take over 400 years to biodegrade”.
King stressed that large quantities of plastic carriers are distributed free of cost daily at supermarkets and other shopping centres in Guyana. He suggested that if customers are made to pay for those carriers it would encourage them to reduce their dependency on plastic bags and seek alternatives which are more environmentally friendly.
“We have written the EPA and the PSC about this. We hope for some movement in this area very soon,” King stated.
He emphasized that millions of top-up plastic phone cards discarded daily by users remain in the environment. King hinted that the local telecommunication companies could encourage more texting, and transfer of credit, and phase out the use of plastic cards, or find ways to recycle them. The presence of plastic in waterways utilises valuable resources.
According to George Jervis, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority has expended about 80 percent of its budgetary allocation of $4.5B for 2011.
Jervis asserted that the body has been executing works across the country to improve drainage capacity. He explained that while some drainage works were being executed, additional money has to be spent to pay persons to remove plastic obstacles from the grills.
Although technological advancement has helped the world – particularly in the areas of communication and manufacturing – it sometimes has negative effects on the environment.
King stressed that the amazing advances in technology continue to contribute to the increase in greenhouse gases, increase in global temperatures, and certain consequential events which could affect the sustainability of the environment.
“Royal Dutch Shell is struggling with another spill in the North Sea. Already, more than 200 tons of oil has been spilled into the sea. Imagine the impact of this on marine life and other aspects of the environment,” he stated. (Keeran Singh)