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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development


7 JUNE 2017
His Excellency, Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama of Fiji and
Her Excellency Isabella Lovin, of Sweden, Co-Presidents of the Conference,
Excellency Peter Thomson, President of the General Assembly
Excellencies, Heads of State and Government,
Honourable Ministers,
Representatives of Non-governmental Organizations,
Mr. President,
Guyana, firstly, wishes to place on record its appreciation to you, Mr
President, for convening this important Conference in support of the
implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, which is to conserve
and sustainably use our oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable
development. This Conference, bringing together all relevant stakeholders
to share the experiences gained at the national, regional and international
levels in the implementation of Goal 14, is both timely and necessary to
reverse the harm being done to our oceans and seas.
President David Granger of the Republic of Guyana sends his greeting and
good wishes for a successful conference. He has fully appreciated the
effects that climate change can have on our world and his vision is to leave
a 'Green State' for coming generations of Guyanese.
Mr. President,
Our oceans and seas cover nearly three quarters of the earth's surface and
play an important role in sustaining both life on the planet and the
livelihoods of many of its inhabitants. Oceans and seas produce half of our
oxygen, regulate global climate, and provide employment, food and other
valuable resources for our populations. The health of the oceans is
therefore the concern of all of us.
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We note with alarm the unsustainable levels of overfishing and destructive
fishing practices, much of it illegal, unreported and unregulated, as well as
the effects of pollution on marine life, fish stocks and on the use of the
oceans for recreational purposes. We therefore welcome this focus by the
international community, perhaps for the first time, on the critical role of
our oceans in sustaining both life on our planet.
Mr. President,
Guyana is conscious of the linkages between SDG 14 and all of the other
goals and targets set out in Agenda 2030. These have therefore all been
integrated into our national development plans and strategies. As a lowlying
coastal State, we are particularly concerned at the impact of rising sea
levels on coastal erosion, which is exacerbated by the destruction of
mangrove forests.
I am pleased to report, in this connection, that with the assistance of the
European Union and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations, we are engaged in a robust programme of mangrove management
to protect our nearly 300 miles of Atlantic coastline from coastal erosion.
Guyana is also in the process of developing a suite of interrelated services
to better manage its coastal ecosystem, including data gathering, social
mobilization and capacity development under its recently launched Green
State Development Strategy. We expect to fill critical information gaps by
developing comprehensive visual spatial data to enable informed decisionmaking
regarding marine protection and management.
In Guyana, the marine resources in our coastal waters and exclusive
economic zone are an important component of our economy and provide
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livelihoods to mainly artisanal Fishers. Artisanal fishing is important to our
economy as 80 percent of the catch is exported.
In order to ensure the sustainability of these resources, regulations have
been introduced to limit fishing by trawlers to only a certain number of
days each year and to require the installation of by-catch reduction devices
and turtle exclusion devices on all trawlers. Monitoring and surveillance of
artisanal vessels are also being increased to ensure compliance and to
reduce the incidence of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activity.
Guyana looks forward to collaborating with external partners, including in
the form of public-private partnerships, in capacity building and the
provision of financial and technical assistance aimed at improving our
capacity to conserve and manage our marine resources and gain access to
markets through sustainable supply chains.
I wish to share with you at this time that oil production from recently
discovered off shore deposits is imminent in Guyana. Conscious of our
responsibility, an environmental impact study has been carried out to
examine potential risks to marine life and coastal livelihoods, especially of
local artisanal Fishers, in the event of oil spills.
Mr. President,
I have shared the steps that Guyana is taking to preserve the health of the
oceans and seas and the marine environment in and around the country. We
are however concerned that countries least responsible for polluting our
oceans and seas and those with the least resources are being called upon to
sacrifice the most in undertaking measures to reverse the harm done by
indiscriminate agricultural practices, including the use of pesticides that
run off into the sea, and the dumping and disposal of solid wastes,
including the millions of tons of plastic that are disposed of each year in
the ocean.
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We must together address this injustice by supporting small island
developing States and coastal States to enable them to put in place the
policies that are necessary to preserve the health of the oceans and to
ensure the sustainability of livelihoods. I refer here to capacity building in
marine scientific technologies and to the management of marine ecosystems
and marine protected areas. Benefits from seabed mining and marine
genetic research should also be shared more equitably with vulnerable
developing States.
Mr. President,
At this time, I would like to announce that Guyana will register as a
Voluntary Commitmen.t its plan to undertake a series of initiatives designed
to achieve and maintain health waterways and the Atlantic Ocean, as our
contribution to Sustainable Development Goal Fourteen (SDG 14), targets
14.1 and 14.2.
Mr. President,
In closing, Guyana wishes to acknowledge the leadership you have shown in
bringing global attention to the dire situation of our oceans and seas. We
also wish to reaffirm our commitment to the achievement of the targets set
out under SDG14 and to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda as a whole.
I thank you.
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