– to help make transition from ‘brown’ to ‘green’ jobs easy

Minister of Education Nicolette Henry has challenged countries in the Americas to adopt policies and regulatory frameworks that would create an enabling environment for persons to easily transition from ‘brown’ to ‘green’ jobs, using innovative technologies.

In her address on Monday during the 2019 Americas Regional Ministerial Conference on Green Economy at the Ceara Events Centre in Fortaleza, Brazil, the Education Minister said that in an effort to advance green economies while combatting climate change, countries must embrace green technologies. This, she said, would also require enhanced operational skills and even a shift in employment and education patterns.

Minister Henry said it is important to equip the population, through education, with the right skills, knowledge and attitude to achieve an inclusive and sustainable future. Using Guyana as a case in point, the Education Minister said her country recently completed its Green State Development Strategy (GSDS): Vision 2040 – a strategy that would create an environment that would result in Guyana becoming a Green State within 20 years.

“The emphasis, really, is on creating an inclusive and prosperous Guyana that provides a good quality of life for all of our citizens, based on sound education, social protection, low-carbon and resilient development. It is also related to providing new economic opportunities, justice and political empowerment,” Minister Henry explained. The Strategy is intended to guide the management of the country’s natural resource wealth, support economic resilience and build human capital and institutional capacity.

These three priority areas, she further explained, would be achieved through multiple strategic actions such as the strengthening of fiscal monetary policies, sustainable management of the country’s land resources, increase economic competitiveness and resilience, construction of resilient infrastructure and transitioning renewable energy.
“We are also looking at improving trade and investment and international cooperation and fostering healthy, educated, social and cohesive populations among other things,” Minister Henry told her counterparts.

The Green State Development Strategy, she said, would undoubtedly create enabling conditions for economic transformation. Already, ahead of the implementation of the strategy, Guyana has brought into Law a Natural Resource Fund Act, and has adopted a Medium-Term Expenditure Framework to ensure that its potential oil revenues are strategically, transparently and effectively managed. Added to that, Minister Henry said Guyana has long embraced the concept of renewable energy, and has initiated the process of transitioning to the use of renewable and reliable energy sources in an effort to support the commercial sector and achieve energy security.

The country, Minister Henry posited, is also on the verge of further diversifying its economy.

“Certainly, we are diversifying Guyana’s economic base and moving to higher value added products and hopefully decent jobs for all. And this of course requires investing in people, community, health and education to ensure that the citizenry can have access to the best opportunities to prosper, prepare and participate in emerging economic opportunities,” Minister Henry said.

In response to a question posed by a participant of the conference on skills required, the Education Minister said that while countries are transitioning from ‘brown’ to ‘green’ jobs, the pace of transition needs to be accelerated.

“We have to think, particularly in the case of Guyana, we have to move from brown to green jobs,” Minister Henry said while underscoring the importance of capacity building and the generation of new skillsets.

“Classrooms are good place you can start in terms of building capacity and training. In addition to that, there is also a need to have a national conversation. In Guyana’s particular case, we have had very robust, I believe, discussion on Local Content so that the population can be involved, make suggestions, make contributions as to how new skills, new ideas and new technologies would allow you to prepare for emerging green and different economies,” the Education Minister explained.

But these policies and regulatory frameworks, she cautioned, would not be successful or effectively implemented if they do not receive buy-in from the wider population. As such, she said consultation and a well-laid-out plan of action with clear timelines are key.
“In the case of our Green State Development Strategy, we have developed an accompanied implementation plan to ensure that many aspects if not all of the aspects of the policy are implemented. One of the mechanisms that we use in terms of developing both the implementation plan and the policy was to have very collaborative engagements where all stakeholders and parties and persons with an interest can be involved in the developmental plan of the policy so that the implementation would be seamless because they provided input,” she explained.

Minister Henry formed part of a panel that discussed ‘enabling policy and regulatory frameworks for a Green Economy.” The other panelists included Director and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) Representative, Regional Hub in Mexico, Guillermo Castella Lorenzo; Ecuador’s Vice-Minister of Environment, Michael Castañeda; and Roberto Liz, the Director of Social and Economic Development, the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development of the Dominican Republic.

Ecuador’s Vice-Minister of Environment, in response to queries about the high rate of deforestation in his country, said the government has engaged in the process of reforestation. “Ecuador is reforesting the Amazon Forest and bringing back trees to areas that where deforested,” Minister Castañeda said.

Ecuador is divided into four principal regions: The Amazon, the Andes, the Pacific Coast, and the Galapagos Islands; and of them all, the Amazon continues to be affected by deforestation. But the government, the Vice-Minister of Environment assured his audience, is taking strategic action to reduce the impact. At the national level, Ecuador is also working to eliminate the use of single-use plastic containers and promote recycling.
In Guyana, the Government intends to gradually phase out the use of single-use plastic containers by the year 2021. Studies show that as much as 40 per cent of the world’s oceans are tremendously affected by pollution, with an estimated eight million metric tonnes of plastic waste entering them annually. The three-day conference continues today.