Funds for Guyana to produce vaccines, preserve forests in €45 billion EU/LAC partnership

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By Neil Marks in Brussels

neil@newsroom.gy 

Funding for Guyana to develop and manufacture health products, including vaccines, and other projects in clean energy and forestry is included in a €45 billion European Union (EU) investment agenda with Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) announced Monday.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced the new partnership with the region at the opening of a business summit in Brussels attended by President Irfaan Ali.

She said it was a “high quality” investment agenda that forms part of the EU’s Global Gateway Investment Agenda and the projects to be funded were agreed to by both sides.

“We agreed on sectors and value chains to prioritize, from clean energy and critical raw materials to health and education,” she stated.  

The EU’s Global Gateway Investment Agenda includes 130 projects centered on “a green, digital, and fair transition to strengthen Latin America and the Caribbean’s unique potential on biodiversity, natural resources, renewable energy, green hydrogen, agricultural production, and strategic critical raw materials with key challenges being the digital divide and social cohesion.”

“And it’s not just about how much we are spending, but also how we are investing. Global Gateway comes with the highest environmental and social standards, and with transparency,” von der Leyen said.

So what’s in the plan for Guyana? Documents provided by the EU lists these:

  • The development and manufacturing of health products, including vaccines, pharmaceuticals and health sector equipment. The details are not known at this time, but Guyana, Rwanda and Barbados have been in talks to manufacture vaccines and pharmaceuticals in the Caribbean. Rwandan President Paul Kagame, on a visit to Trinidad recently, said the next step is to decide on a procurement mechanism that will be sustainable.
  • Upgrading of water treatment facilities in Guyana, providing clean, affordable and stable water supply for the communities in and around the capital region
  • Expanding off-grid solar panels for the hinterland, expanding the country’s energy mix and transition away from fossil fuels
  • Implementation of the Forest Partnership and Voluntary Partnership Agreement/Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (VPA/FLEGT) initiative with a focus on value added in timber products and sustainable forest management.

In 2022, Guyana became the first country to sign both the VPA/FLEGT (to ensure forestry operations are legal) and a Forest Partnership Agreement with the EU. The Forest Partnership is valued at G$1.2 billion.

“This Partnership will allow the EU to mobilise its full set of tools and instruments to ensure sustainability of the Forest in a social, economic, financial and environmental way,” René van Nes, the EU Ambassador to Guyana said in May this year.

During a visit in March, Deputy Secretary General Helena König formally launched the partnership, designed to improve forest governance and ensure forest conservation.

“The European Union has made substantial and sustainable forest management the one and only focus in its new bilateral cooperation with Guyana, fully in line with Guyana’s own Low Carbon Development Strategy. We aim to support Guyana’s ambition to preserve and enhance the sustainable development role of forests as a key asset,” she said.

An estimated 85% of Guyana’s land area is covered by forests and there has been significantly low deforestation, with just about 1% lost in the past four decades.

“Guyana’s forest is not just standing trees but an important asset that provides global services, and in the provision of this global service, it is only fair that the forest earns for the country and its people who ensure that it stays intact, in support of those global services,” President Ali had said when König visited.

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