Chairman of the Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST) and Director at CGX Guyana, Dr. Suresh Narine believes that Guyana faces a challenge in protecting environmental patrimony while ensuring increased standard of living.
He made this announcement at the inaugural Green Guyana Expo and International Business Summit which was officially launched on Thursday at the Princess Ramada Hotel, Providence, East Bank Demerara.
During his address, Dr. Narine said that when compared to its much smaller Caribbean island neighbours, Guyana is a vast country, with a population density of more than four square kilometres per capita. The University Professor said that indeed, Guyana’s natural environment unarguably is a world-treasure, even if it is as yet not a tradable economic commodity.
The IAST Director said, “The conundrum, then, is how to protect this environmental patrimony, while ensuring that the country’s small population has access to an increased standard of living. And in so doing, perhaps even provide a model for small states development which is respectful of those parameters of value in their unique value systems. Before the massive discoveries of Oil and Gas offshore Guyana, the country had already articulated a vision for an economic trajectory based on protection of its standing forests, called the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS)”.
After the 2015 discoveries, with the very real potential of generating massive amounts of capital, Dr. Narine pointed out that rather than relent to the very enticing opportunity to embark on a spending spree, the country has wisely decided to focus on a Green State Development Strategy (GSDS). Dr. Narine said that the country now looks forward to the generation of its own capital from the oil and gas industry to fuel its development of sustainable green industries.
He said, “The idea that a small, under-developed country like Guyana can nucleate a model for its growth which articulates investment of revenues from the finite oil and gas sector to capitalize sustainable growth in agriculture, tourism, science and technology, commerce, information technology, nutraceuticals and functional foods, non-traditional timber products, water-based high value products and a myriad of others, is at once, exciting and hopeful.”
Dr. Narine continued, “On this journey, the very thing that at times has challenged the stability and political growth of Guyana can provide unique value – the multiplicity of its racial composition. All peoples and cultures are place-oriented. The incubation of a people in a particular place generates solutions to a myriad of needs – health, beauty, culture, art, poetry, cuisine, etc. Guyana, with its six main ethnicities, can harvest solutions forged in diverse places, from multiple histories and indigenous knowledge bases.”
The scientist added, “This is an approach which has already begun to take hold in Guyana and beginning to pay dividends. The images that appear in this article are all products which have been developed with the Indigenous Peoples of Guyana, combining the indigenous knowledge with modern science and technology to create tertiary, branded products which not only adduce to the economic benefit of the communities from which they were developed, but also branding and promulgating their cultural mores and accomplishments within a uniquely Guyanese mosaic…”
Also in attendance at the opening of the event were Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock; Minister of Public Affairs, Dawn Hastings-Williams; Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan and Business Minister, Dominic Gaskin. Inter-American Development Bank Country Representative, Sophie Makonnen; and Chairman of the Expo’s Planning Committee, Eric Phillips were also present.
Minister Jordan said that the event is a testimony of the path government has charted to help small businesses grow and be competitive. He said, “This expo and summit will, no doubt, create opportunities for networking and facilitating trade. I am acutely aware that once accompanied by the right policies, trade can be a principal driver to the transition to a green economy. “
Jordan noted that small and medium scale businesses have a vital role to play in the transformation process, in which there is a growing demand for green products and services. He said, too, that this transformation will be guided by the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS) which is currently being drafted.
Business Minister, Dominic Gaskin, said that the summit is important since it will help small businesses understand how the GSDS will impact their sectors. He said that the government is making an investment in renewable resources more attractive, by removing import duties on renewable energy generating equipment. “A decision today, to invest in green energy, can make small businesses more competitive in the long term,” Minister Gaskin posited.
The Business Summit ended yesterday and saw speakers from some 16 countries sharing their experiences and innovative solutions to diversify the economy along a resilient, low-carbon pathway while utilizing the country’s vast natural resources.
Director of the Environment, Ndibi Schwiers, noted that recognition is now given to small businesses and start-ups as potent drivers of economic growth and development, since they create jobs and address pressing local challenges.
Following the opening of the business summit on Thursday, the expo was opened at the Providence National Stadium by the Ministers of Finance, Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs and Public Affairs, as well as sponsors and promoters of the Green Guyana Expo.
At the stadium, several businesses proudly showcased their products and services. Some of the businesses present include; Jacobs Agro, Raphael Indigenous Products, Parris Indigenous Products, and South American Coco Company. The IAST which has the largest booth at the Expo has on display several high quality products which include the Rupununi Essence Facial Cleanser, Morning Glory Cereal and the Paramakatoi Flavours Sundried Tomato Ketchup.
The Green Guyana Expo and Summit are being held under the theme “Sustainable Economic Growth Through Small Business Innovation Entrepreneurship and Transformative Government Policies.”
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