The Economy: The Green State Development Strategy (GSDS)

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Today’s article is inspired particularly by an article carried by Newsroom on July 05, 2018, with the captioned: “US$37.2 million from Norway for Solar Projects”. In that article, it was stated that the Government of Guyana is committed to moving towards close to 100 percent clean and green energy supply by 2025. See full article here: https://newsroom.gy/2018/07/05/us37-2-million-from-norway-for-solar-projects/.

This is an extremely welcomed development, also forming part of the broader Green State Development Strategy for Guyana.

While there may be some commentators who might question the morality or perhaps to some extent the degree of conflict of interest from a political dimension – premised on the fact that Guyana is gearing up to becoming an oil producing country by 2020 onwards which is perhaps is a good conversational topic; Norway which was an oil producing country, strategically used its oil resources, the revenues that is, to develop and advance its renewable energy transitioning programme.

In fact, Norway is one of the leading countries in renewable energy and climate change policies on the global front, with China arguably leading the race. In the sections that follow, a synopsis of Guyana’s Green State Development Strategy Framework is presented, which is extrapolated from a document prepared by the Ministry of Presidency with technical and financial support from the United Nations Environment Programme.

The GSDS is the framework that will guide Guyana’s economic and sociocultural development over the next fifteen years. The framework outlines a roadmap achieving the sustainable development goals and related targets, and outlines a long term vision for a prosperous and equitable future. The objective of the strategy is to reorient and diversify Guyana’s economy, reducing reliance on traditional sectors and opening up new sustainable income and investment opportunities in higher value adding and higher growth sectors.

The framework shares the same spirit as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, serving as a tripod platform for economic, social and environmental safeguards.

Seven central themes are identified with the potential to contribute to the transition to a Green State:

  • Green and inclusive structural transformation: diversifying the economic base, accessing new markets and creating decent jobs for all;
  • Sustainable management of Natural Resources and Expansion of Environmental Services: stewardship of natural patrimony
  • Energy – Transition to Renewable energy and greater energy independence;
  • Resilient infrastructure and spatial development;
  • Human development and wellbeing;
  • Governance and institutional pillars; and
  • International cooperation, trade and investment.

Why Green Growth Matters for Developing Countries?

Developing countries are the key to achieving global green growth in two major ways. Firstly, the potential economic and social impacts of environmental degradation are particularly important for developing countries: the case of Guyana, the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) is an excellent example, advancing Guyana in the right direction in this regard.

Developing countries tend to be more vulnerable to climate change and are more dependent than advanced economies on the exploitation of natural resources for economic growth: here in Guyana’s case, examples are gold mining and the impending oil and gas sector.

Further, many developing countries face severe economic, social and ecological threats from energy, food and water insecurity to climate change and extreme weather risks. In addition, they are also faced with risks of premature deaths due to pollution, poor water quality and diseases associated with changing climate. These factors combined, undermine the development of developing countries (OECD, 2012).

In spite of the fact that most developing countries today contribute minor shares to global greenhouse gas emissions compared to the OECD and major emerging economies, they can increase their emissions if they follow conventional economic growth patterns. Increasingly developing countries are becoming sources of global economic growth, emissions and, more intensive use of natural resources.

As such, in order to address many of these challenges without compromising future growth and poverty reduction goals, the concept of green growth has emerged. However, it is likely that developing countries will interpret green growth in different ways and this concept has generated some valid concerns.

Citing the OECD (2012) in this respect, emerging economies, for example, describe the opportunities offered by green growth in most enthusiastic terms, and many of them have access to relevant funds and technologies that can realize these opportunities.

By 2008, China had already become the largest producer of clean technology in financial terms, accounting for 1.4% of its GDP. By comparison, there is caution on the part of many low-income countries that are only just beginning to assess the opportunities, threats and indeed the meaning of a green economic pathway.

However, the policy ideas and technologies are neither easily accessible nor entirely relevant to their national development needs. There is a strongly adverse political reaction against green growth concept in only a few countries.

There are also some concerns on the specificities of green growth, for example, some issues relate to the international dimensions of green growth such as the risks of green protectionism and green conditionality for Official Development Assistance. Other critical issues include:

  • Will green growth help address poverty and other development priorities? The argument here is that with the green growth emphasis on low carbon and high technology, do not obviously tackle the equity problems at either the national or global level, notably the problem of lack of inclusion of many poor countries and people within the informal economy in economic decision making and in major economic opportunities. Not enough attention has been given to the use of natural capital.

 

  • Will green growth efforts be impeded by high-cost barriers? In this case, the concern is that the initial costs for the transitioning to a green state economy appear to be beyond the reach of many developing countries, example, solar power for rural communities. Even basic technologies are lacking in most developing countries such as energy efficiency and integrated water resource management. There is a concern that developing countries may not be able to compete, as they may need to import technologies from other countries: exchange of scientific and technical knowledge and removing the barriers constituted by intellectual property rights are of great importance if a genuine transfer of green technologies is to take place between developed and developing concerns.

In Guyana’s context, however, as far as some of these concerns and challenges highlighted herein are concerned, the likelihood of these factors are minimized for several reasons.

The LCDS programme for example, in which Guyana benefits from a financial package from Norway for simply conserving its forest resources, that resource is being deployed for the development of renewable energy initiatives and more importantly, like Norway, with the impending oil revenues, as part of Guyana’s Green State Development Strategy, it is only sensible that the government set aside an adequate percentage of the oil revenues to advance these initiatives. In essence, cost barrier should not be a major impediment for Guyana.

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