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President Jagdeo receives 2010 Champion of the Earth Award from UNEP-Acceptance Speech

ACCEPTANCE SPEECH From His Excellency Bharrat Jagdeo, President of Guyana
I am deeply honoured to be here in Seoul to accept this award.
In doing so, I don’t see it as an award for myself as an individual. Rather, I
interpret is as an endorsement of the people of Guyana’s long-standing efforts to
help change the way the world values scarce natural resources. For years, the people of Guyana have demonstrated real commitment to the
preservation of nature and biodiversity, most notably as it relates to our still
largely intact tropical rainforest.
[President Jagdeo]

President Jagdeo

But they have also struggled against the global economic reality that long term national development and protecting nature are frequently competing, not complementary, objectives.

Without changing this reality, the world will fail to reverse today’s dangerous trends of climate change and biodiversity destruction.

QUOTE: Many other forest countries are willing to step up. If their efforts are supported by progressive international policies – where developed countries move their
economies onto a sustainable path at the same time as helping developing
countries who aim to do likewise – I believe that we can build out from national
experiences such as ours; protect forests and by extension preserve biodiversity;
unleash the biggest wave of green innovation the world has ever seen; and
create real benefits and opportunities for people across the world today and for
generations to come.

Regrettably, despite the very valuable efforts of many – and years of well-meaning
philanthropy – much of the world’s biodiversity has been lost and more than half of the world’s tropical forests have been lost in the last 60 years.

I believe that this is because for too long, we focused on stopping the consequences of biodiversity loss, rather than addressing its drivers.

In Guyana, we didn’t want to just despair – we wanted to prove that it is possible to change this economic reality.

And the emerging climate change agenda’s recognition of the importance of forests as an abatement solution provided us with an opportunity to maybe start changing things.

So three years ago, we proposed two ideas.

One – we said we would be prepared to put virtually our entire rainforest, which is almost twice the size of the Republic of Korea – under long term protection if the right economic incentives were created.

And two – we said we would use the payments we receive for our forests’ services to re-orient our economy into a low carbon, environmentally sound trajectory.

Now, we are putting these ideas into practice. The Government of Norway is the first international partner to value some of the ecosystem services provided by Guyana’s forest, and to start paying for them.

For our part, we are about to start investing those payments in our new economy. Over the next five years, we will remove virtually our entire energy sector from fossil fuel dependence, and we will catalyze new economic sectors to provide our indigenous and other forest communities – as well as citizens across the country with valuable economic alternatives that do not put pressure on our forests.

We have learned a lot. We are also showing that it is possible to create a better, environmentally sustainable national economy without compromising our citizens’ legitimate aspirations for increased prosperity. And therefore by extension, a sustainable international economy is also possible.

Many other forest countries are willing to step up. If their efforts are supported by progressive international policies – where developed countries move their economies onto a sustainable path at the same time as helping developing countries who aim to do likewise – I believe that we can build out from national experiences such as ours; protect forests and by extension preserve biodiversity; unleash the biggest wave of green innovation the world has ever seen; and create real benefits and opportunities for people across the world today and for generations to come.

Thank you once again.



Category/ies:Grenada Speeches.
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