A presidential drive for sustainable development in forest countries

15 March 2012 | News story

IUCN welcomes former President of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo who is taking on a double role as IUCN High Level Envoy for Sustainable Development in Forest Countries and Patron of Nature.

Bharrat Jagdeo was President of Guyana from August 1999 to December 2011. At 35, he was one of the youngest Heads of State in the world – he was also the first President to depart office in accordance with term limits he signed into Guyana’s constitution. His tenure in office saw strong economic growth, significantly improved access to education, rehabilitation of the health system, far-reaching land reform, the biggest expansion of the housing sector in Guyana’s history, expansion of the water and sanitation systems, and large-scale development of the road, river and air transport networks.

For many years, President Jagdeo has emphasized the need for urgent international action to avert the worst extremes of climate change – and “to make global development and combating climate change compatible, not competing objectives”. As part of his vision to show how progress is possible, Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy sets out a national scale, replicable model to protect Guyana’s 18 million hectares of forest and to provide insights on how to curb the 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions that result from deforestation and forest degradation, while re-orienting the Guyanese economy onto a long-term “low deforestation, low carbon, climate resilient trajectory”.

As part of building this global model, Norway is partnering with Guyana to provide up to US$ 250 million by 2015 for avoided greenhouse gas emissions from Guyana’s forest. Guyana is using these payments and domestic resources to attract private investment in clean energy and new low carbon economic sectors, as well as to make significant public investments in other social and economic priorities. This has been described as the most progressive low carbon development strategy in a low income country.

President Jagdeo was awarded the United Nations “Champion of the Earth” award in 2010. Time Magazine and CNN also named the President as one of their “Heroes of the Environment" in 2008. In early 2010, the Secretary General of the United Nations asked President Jagdeo to serve on the Secretary General’s High Level Advisory Group on Climate Finance. He is currently a member of the board of the Korea based Global Green Growth Institute, and Roving Ambassador for the world’s three forest basins (Congo, Amazon, South East Asia).

For more information contact:
Giuditta Andreaus giuditta.andreaus@iucn.org