–as the world population reaches seven billion
The world could very well be on a path to global self destruction if measures are not implemented to arrest the impact of climate change. However, Guyana is well poised to help address this dilemma with its environmental sustainability measures.
This notion was emphasized yesterday by Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, when he launched the ‘State of the World Report’ at the Georgetown Club in the city. The local forum which came as part of a global move was designed to recognize that the world currently has a seven billion population.
Every year the United Nations has been publishing a report on the state of the world’s population which addresses emerging population issues. This year the organization has dedicated its most important annual publication under the theme “people and possibilities, a world of seven billion.”
In launching the report, the Minister alluded to the fact that a world that has seven billion people has greater implications for global environmental sustainability than a world of three billion. He also pointed out that the pressures on the environment cannot be separated from the population growth that has now been recorded.
“The world, I believe, has finally woken up to the reality that we are on a path that is unsustainable on the environmental front and unless we find a lasting solution, a truly sustainable solution to the climate change that is now documented beyond dispute, to slow and in some areas reverse some of the negative consequences of this climate change then we are on a path to global self destruction.”
However, it is the view of the Minister that Guyana has a significant role to play and has situated itself with respect to playing such a role. “Our policy position on environmental sustainability and in particular on climate change and the role of standing forest in the fight against climate change stands out in this regard.
“We must spare no effort to continue to articulate that role both in the context of the need for the global community to find a solution to the global environmental challenges that is truly lasting and also from the perspective of advocating a global position on these environmental issues that are also responsive to our own domestic circumstances.”
In recognition of the fact that Guyana has been responsible in its economic activities over the centuries and that the preservation of the standing forest has come at the expense of economic activities that could have generated improved standard of living, the Minister asserted that Guyana has taken the deliberate policy stance that “we must be responsible environmentally and we must preserve the forest.
And so with the foregone economic opportunities and the fact that Guyana has been responsible coupled with the fact that the forest now provides the global environmental services that they do and therefore now allows for remuneration for those services, is a position that must continue to be advocated even as efforts are made to continue to seek support of the international community, in particular the UN agencies, the Minister stressed.
He also alluded to the fact that with the population growth it is inevitable that issues related to food security and food supply would engage consideration. He added that “we have argued that our potential to contribute more significantly to global food output…certainly when one speaks of a regional context, Guyana’s potential to meet a much more significant part of regional food demand is still to be realized.”
The Minister referred to the fact that efforts must be made to get from the point of this un-tapped potential to a point where Guyana can generate significantly more agricultural output, not only from the point of view of economic development and generation of income and creation of wealth but also from the standpoint of more affordable, reliable and larger volumes of regional food production.
This, he said, are issues that “we must continue to devote ourselves.”
He also sought to highlight the benefits of technology, stressing that efforts must also be made to harness technology that exist that are being used elsewhere in the world to catalyst more rapid growths to generate income, create jobs and improve life in the most rapid manner possible.
The report according to UNFPA’s, Ms. Patrice La Fleur, addresses: youth, a new global power, reshaping the world, security, economic strength and independence in old age, what influences fertility, the power and impact of migration, planning ahead for growth of cities, sharing and sustaining the earth’s resources, and the way ahead finishing the Cairo Agenda, which speaks to the international conference on population and development which was held in 1994 and sought to move the issue of population from numbers to the quality of life of people.
La Fleur revealed too that the report also shares the experiences of nine countries – China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, India, Mexico, Mozambique, Nigeria and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – as they address issues related to the aging population, high fertility rates, urbanization and the emergence of new generations of young people.
“As an organization UNFPA sees the world at seven billion as an achievement since people are living longer, healthier lives and couples are choosing the number of children they would like to have,” La Fleur said.
Despite this phenomenon, there are still many issues to be addressed, the UNFPA Programme Officer noted. He pointed to the gap, between the rich and the poor countries that are yet growing; thus more people are vulnerable to food security, water shortages and weather related disasters.
Chief Statistician, Lennox Benjamin, observed that the world’s population has grown at a phenomenal rate when “we consider that just some 200 years ago the world’s population stood at one billion people.”
Undoubtedly the present generation is set apart from the generations of yesteryear by the levels and sophistication of the information age…” He further alluded to the fact that throughout the world the reduction and ultimate eradication of poverty has to be the foremost of goals if mankind is to achieve the highest quality of life.
The seven billion mark has been given worldwide prominence with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) dedicating a link ( www.BBC.com/7billion) where persons can key in their date of birth, country of birth and attain the approximation of their number in terms of the global population.
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