It is a great pleasure for me to be here to join in the launch of a very important project directly addressing the coastal communities in both Guyana and Suriname. I was already delighted to participate in the launching event in Suriname roughly two weeks ago. With this project the European Union wishes to contribute to preserving the unique marine and coastal biodiversity in the Caribbean Sea basin.
Roughly 1.1 million people will directly and indirectly benefit from this project. It aims at addressing the challenges deriving from climate change, fisheries and carbon storage and thus contributes to decreasing the vulnerability of this part of the region. It will significantly enhance the protection of marine and coastal resources of Guyana and Suriname. This will have a positive impact at a national, regional and global level.
The project aims at enhancing the knowledge of the marine environment, a key factor in reaching the so called Aichi biodiversity targets. The marine environment of Suriname and Guyana is highly productive and influenced positively by the nutrient rich Amazonian plume. The dynamic coast consisting of extensive mangrove forests and large mudflats provides regionally important nursery habitats for economically valuable fish species. Furthermore, the mangroves provide a regional role in cyclone attenuation and global carbon storage. Finally, the unique ecozone is critical for livelihoods and socio-economic development in both countries. Knowledge of this will contribute to preserving this for future generations.
In order to achieve this, a number of stakeholders will participate in this project. Not only the government but also civil society’s participation is crucial for the success and sustainability of the project. For the European Union the project will be only successful if activities end after the scheduled implementation period.
On the contrary, we expect that a sound and stable foundation will have been built by this project which will be further enhanced after its actual end.
In addition, research institutes and the hydro-carbon industry are important stakeholders here. Only through their active participation and direct involvement we will be able to create a sustainable environment based on sound scientific data.
Furthermore, small scale fisherwomen and fishermen play a key role in the protection of these highly sensitive zones. Through the transfer of knowledge and their active participation it can be ensured that they can pursue their economic activities also in the future.
You can therefore see that this project addresses a very wide range of issues. All are related to the global challenges we are facing. Only together can we address them!
A project of EUR 1.25 million which is approximately GYD 278 million at current rates seems to be very small compared to all the objectives which I mentioned. We will certainly not be able to solve everything through this project, but what we intend to do is to start and support this process preserving biodiversity in a sustainable way. As I said earlier, the project can only initiate these activities. It will be important to ensure that this will result in wider, sustainable and continued government policy of protecting biodiversity.
I wish the project a lot of success in its implementation.
Thank you for your attention.