The Office of Climate Change (OCC), today opened its first National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Workshop, which is the first step in the consultancy for the formulation of a national plan to reduce Guyana’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. The workshop will also facilitate the integration of climate change into new and existing policies and programmes regarding Guyana’s development.
The two-day workshop, which targets officers from Government agencies, is being conducted under the Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (JCCCP) and facilitated by consultants from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It is being held at the Grand Coastal Hotel, East Coast Demerara.
Head of the OCC, Ms. Janelle Christian explained that the consultancy process will ensure the NAP is tailored to Guyana’s specific climate change concerns. “We are working to identify particular challenges that have been affecting communities and affecting certain sections of the country… We have in the room today… a deliberate attempt to ensure that [the consultants] are guided with respect to all that has happened since we… collectively identified the priority for action for the adaptation and ensuring that we adjust to the changes that we’re seeing, whether increased rainfall, decreased rainfall, increased temperature or sudden events, and how this is impacting lives,” she said.
Ms. Christian also highlighted two key areas for consideration as it regards President David Granger’s vision of a ‘green’ Guyana. “We want to assess and take stock to see if what we identified as priority back in 2015/2016 is still relevant, what it is that we… have done since then, and where we are going with respect to the new vision of the President… Principally within the [Green State Development Strategy] we believe that there are two thematic areas that speak directly to what we are doing here. The thematic [areas] that [have] to do with resilient infrastructure and… the sustainable use of our natural resources,” she said.
In an invited comment after the opening ceremony, Ms. Christian said it is crucial to gather a wide cross-section of representatives as they each have a unique perspective to bring to the table. “This workshop… has brought together all the senior technicians across Government based on their work, based on what they are already seeing, and based on how this is affecting… [what] we need to move from business as usual and to bring about the change, meaningful change, in the way we approach our development,” The Head of the OCC stated.
Ms. Christian also spoke of the specific challenges of those in the most vulnerable cross-sections of society. “We also need to consider the social elements, the vulnerable and those that are disadvantaged. Very often… the poor and the vulnerable are most at risk. They are the ones who are more severely affected. They do not have the means to adjust… When we are putting together these national plans, we need to have the sector that understands what is happening within the social space, so that when we plan, all of that is taken into consideration,” she said.
The NAP consultancy process will last six to eight months, concluding within the first quarter of 2019. Representatives from the Ministries of Education, Social Protection, Communities, Foreign Affairs, Public Health, and Public Infrastructure as well as the Civil Defence Commission, the Guyana Energy Agency, Guyana Water Incorporated, and the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission participated in the workshop.