Today marks the official launch, in Guyana, of the project Promoting Integrated and Participatory Ocean Governance in Guyana and Suriname: the Eastern Gate to the Caribbean hosted by WWF Guianas and the Protected Areas Commission.
European Union [EU] Ambassador for Guyana and Suriname, Mr. Jernej Videtič, joined with Representative of WWF Guianas, Mr. Laurens Gomes and representatives of the Government of Guyana, national agencies, private sector and other stakeholders and interest groups in Georgetown to sign the agreement and launch the project.
The ambitious project is the result of a series of coordinated regional project planning and design efforts amongst WWF Guianas, Protected Areas Commission (Guyana), the Nature Conservation Service of the Ministry of ROGB (Suriname), and the Green Heritage Fund Suriname (GHFS), who managed to secure EUR 1.25 million grant from the European Union.
The overall goal of the project, Promoting Integrated and Participatory Ocean Governance in Guyana and Suriname, is to increase the protection of marine and coastal resources in Guyana and Suriname, through participatory spatial planning, inclusive of defining priorities for marine protection and wise use.
EU Ambassador Jernej Videtič in delivering his remarks highlighted that, ''roughly 1.1 million people will directly and indirectly benefit from the project as 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. He further added that, ''it will significantly enhance the protection of marine and coastal resources of Guyana and Suriname.''
Oceans and coastal ecosystems support important fisheries, major nursery grounds, spawning grounds and a rich diversity of marine species, of local, regional and global significance. Whilst existing pressures are recognized (overfishing of some species; increased hydrocarbon exploration) there are significant data gaps, which hamper efforts to sustainably manage the marine environment in an informed manner.
Overall, this project will fill critical information gaps by developing comprehensive and visually appealing spatial data (a GIS atlas and 3-D ocean maps) collated through participatory processes, enabling informed decision-making regarding marine protection and management.
More specifically, the project will contribute a substantive positive impact towards achieving 10% of Suriname/Guyana EEZ designated as Marine Protected Areas, which is a commitment each country has made on the Aichi Biodiversity Targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Additionally, Marine spatial planning (MSP) processes will enhance an ecosystem-based framework for managing activities in the marine environment.
Full engagement and empowerment of key ocean users - including key national agencies adopting leading roles within this project - will ensure a stakeholder led results. It is envisioned that increased marine protection and strengthened governance will safeguard marine and coastal biodiversity and enhance food security, protect livelihoods, increase climate resilience and support sustainable socio-economic development in these countries.
Promoting Integrated and Participatory Ocean Governance in Guyana and Suriname is expected to help to demonstrate that compelling data, participatory spatial planning and targeted capacity building can contribute to conserving biodiversity and fostering economic activities compatible with Ocean health.