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Green State Development Strategy: Vision 2040
The Green State Development Strategy: Vision 2040 is Guyana’s twenty-year, national development policy that reflects the guiding vision and principles of the ‘green agenda’: “An inclusive and prosperous Guyana that provides a good quality of life for all its citizens based on sound education and social protection, low-carbon and resilient development, providing new economic opportunities, justice and political empowerment.” The central objective is development that provides a better quality of life for all Guyanese derived from the country’s natural wealth – its diversity of people and abundant natural resources (land, water, forests, mineral and aggregates, biodiversity). The Strategy was developed from a multi-layered, nationwide, stakeholder consultation process. The main thrust of governance and institutional reform under the Vision 2040 development agenda rests on the pillars of transparency, participation, the rule of law and strong institutions to manage green growth processes.
Access to Information
The Development Strategy contains numerous sections regarding access to information. Plans include digitizing information systems; updating Guyana’s Access to Information law; building local awareness and understanding of issues, such as energy efficiency, through web-based tools; developing modern e-governance systems; performing a “comprehensive stocktaking of Guyana’s transparency and accountability architecture with a view to modelling best international practice,” increasing information sharing among departments and agencies; and taking a proactive stance on making government information publicly accessible. Many of the access to information portions of the Strategy focus on transparency and it proposes a comprehensive evaluation of Guyana’s current transparency and accountability measures. This includes transparency and access to the extractive industry as part of the update to the Access to Information law, transparent management of oil revenues as part of the establishment of the Natural Resource Fund Act, greater transparency for land leases for development projects, developing a government-wide procurement accountability framework, creating an independent body to develop and promote anti-corruption and transparency measures, facilitating public access through e-governance systems, strengthening public financial management and procurement systems, increasing public access to timely and relevant information, and establishing clear requirements for public officials and the political system.
The Strategy’s plans for public participation focus on increasing the access to information so as to ease public participation. The section on Policy Recommendations for Governance and Citizen Participation lays out several goals: improving public access to information; adequately resourcing the Integrity Commission of Guyana; reforming the political system; strengthening citizen participation and inclusion through the establishment of the Guyana Civil Society Development Foundation; modernizing legal and regulatory frameworks and civil society organizations; and correcting deficiencies in the rule of law. The Strategy also emphasizes the need for public trust in government in order to ensure participation by strengthening the independent judiciary, judiciary support systems, and Police Force and Department of Public Prosecutions; and undertaking a comprehensive review of National Human Rights institutions.
Access to Justice
Proposals in the strategy to improve access to justice and the judicial system include: increasing capacity and adding resources, including in human resources, management systems, and physical facilities; addressing public perceptions of corruption and bottlenecks; digitizing record keeping in courts; hiring additional magistrates and judges to relieve bottlenecks; developing a monitoring and evaluation framework; assigning performance targets; operating with “minimal public corruption,” as reflected in international corruption and transparency measures; implementing a digital recording and trial management system; expanding the judiciary into “hinterland” areas, including the construction of physical facilities; strengthening alternative dispute resolution systems and legal aid services; and partnering with private sector and civil society to provide quality service to communities.
The Strategy proposes a revision of the Amerindian Act (2006) through an inclusive and consensual process based on free, prior and informed consent to address issues of concern to indigenous peoples and bring the Act in line with international obligations. This review must consider the broad question of rights to all lands, including customary lands, the powers of the minister and large-scale mining on indigenous lands, among other issues. B3.4 Strengthen Community Reporting, Monitoring and Verification (CMRV) Programmes of indigenous communities. Indigenous communities apply traditional methods for keeping forest resources in balance over centuries. It is important that these are validated for conservation of forest health and forest cover, and for monitoring and preventing deforestation e.g. from unsustainable mining practices. Indigenous lands amount to 15% of Guyana’s total land area, which make these communities an important resource for continued forest management in the long term. B3.5 Implement provisions under the Amerindian Act 2006 that mandate Amerindian village councils to manage forest resources. The Act accords Amerindian communities’ autonomy over their lands. However, completion of the land titling project is the priority, along with timely payment of royalty fees from mining activities conducted on indigenous lands. Importantly, the development of village improvement plans that are also required under the Act, could be better supported and advanced to give effect to forest management objectives. Indigenous communities could be better motivated to drive forest production value added and resource management, verification and reporting. Incentive schemes to reduce mining impacts might also be considered to ensure that mined-out land is rehabilitated and on a timely basis.
The Strategy highlights transparency and modernization in mining and extractive industries. Because mining is the largest single sector of the Guyana economy, the Strategy includes plans to increase transparency in that sector, including the establishment of a modernized digital portal for mining applications and more effective and transparent mining licensing. The nation’s membership in the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative is expected to further improve transparency in the oil and gas industry.