Addressing regional representatives at the opening session of an Amazon Regional workshop in La Ressouvenir, East Coast Demerara recently, Minister of Foreign Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett proclaimed that “the government of Guyana recognizes the Amazon forest as the lungs of the world giving life to earth and its inhabitants and will remain committed to supporting the protection of the Amazon.” The workshop was aimed at sharing conservation experiences of indigenous and local communities in and around protected areas to advance conservation of the Amazon biome. The two-day event was attended by representatives from French Guiana, Guyana, and various Latin American countries.
Rodrigues-Birkett said that Guyana is a member of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organisation (ACTO), which aims at promoting joint action for the sustainable development of the Amazon region and its people, and that the country has agreed to environmental treaties and conventions such as one on climate change, biological biodiversity, and international trade and its impact on endangered species of wild fauna and flora. She stressed the need for partnerships and cooperation between various countries, institutions, and communities.
The Minister expressed pleasure that the United Nations member states are engaged in deliberations in New York at the Ninth Session of the permanent forum and that discussions include advancing issues of concern to the world’s indigenous people for their mutual benefits, for example, issues related to the forest. She highlighted that Guyana has attached tremendous importance to the development of its indigenous people, explaining, “We have managed in the last six or seven years or so to increase the amount of land owned by our indigenous communities from 6.5% to approximately 14% at this point in time and we believe that we must continue this process.” Pointing to the 2006 Amerindian Act, the Rodrigues-Birkett underlined that it includes a section on protected areas that speaks to the recognition of traditional rights and the fact that indigenous people must give consent if protected areas are to be established on their legally recognized land. She emphasized that “indigenous peoples have played and continued to play an important role in protecting and preserving the lungs of the world (the Amazon) and biodiversity.”
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