EPA partners with WWF to strengthen management of Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) industry in Guyana
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Guianas – Guyana Country Office, with support from the Netherlands Commission on Environmental Assessment partnered to successfully execute a one week training workshop from July 8-12, 2019. The workshop which was facilitated by two experts, Giel Hendriks and Peter Nelson from the Netherlands Commission on Environmental Assessment aimed at building capacity of local organisations to strengthen management within Guyana’s mining sector. Approximately, thirty-five (35) participants representing seventeen (17) agencies in the environmental conservation and management arena benefited from a training workshop focused on increasing human resource capital and capability to undertaken Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the ASGM and other sectors.
Through the lens of the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS)
Undoubtedly, Mining contributes significantly to Guyana’s Socio-economic landscape; however, it comes at a cost, one mainly bored by the environment. Biodiversity loss, reduce water quality and quantity, social conflicts resulting from land use as well as, acute and chronic health risks, are some of the issues associated directly or indirectly with mining. Therefore, in an effort to make more evidence-based decisions to transform the sector, this partnership comes as at a critical junction; as the country rolls out its vision for a green and inclusive economy through its Green State Development Strategy: vision 2040 (GSDS). The GSDS promotes three key messages; management of natural resource wealth; support for economic resilience and building of human capital and institutional capacity. This training was poised to help environmental planners and managers take a more strategic and evidence-based approach when devising solutions to the issues and challenges in the environmental management arena with focus being placed on Policies, Plans and Programmes.
Speaking on behalf of the EPA at the opening ceremony, Senior Environmental Officer Mr. Collis Primo lauded the partnership particularly, as the EPA continues to strengthen and increase its capability to respond to its evolving work portfolio, as it prepares to monitor and regulate emerging sectors, principally Oil and Gas. Country Manager of WWF Guyana Office, Ms. Aiesha Williams said the exercise was nestled in the EPA’s governance of thematic areas, specifically under the Shared Resources Joint Solutions Programme. “This programme aims to safeguard international public goods around climate resilience, food security, and water provisioning.” Also delivering remarks were Mr. Carlos Todd from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and Ms. Uma Madray from the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC).
The EPA and the ASGM industry
Further, the EPA under the Environmental Protection Act, Cap. 20:05, Laws of Guyana and complementary Regulations has the responsibility to regulate all activities related to mining and its development. Noting the position of the GSDS and EP Act and given the continuous expansion of the ASGM industry, it is critical that the EPA develops a mechanism to ensure that all ASGM operators are regulated. It is against this backdrop that, the need for a specific training on the development of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the ASGM industry was seen as critical need for the Agency.
In that regard, the EPA sees the SEA, as a tool that can be used to identify critical environmental and social safeguards to be incorporated into any plans, permits and policies for the industry and to strengthen the overall regulatory framework.
What is a SEA?
Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is the process by which environmental considerations are required to be fully integrated into the preparation of plans and programmes prior to their final adoption. The premise of SEA can be simply stated: Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on its own is not enough. Only a relatively small proportion of the proposals and decisions made by governments are subject to examination. SEA rounds out and scales up the coverage from projects to include policy, plans, programmes and other proposed strategic actions with potentially important environmental effects. The objectives of SEA are to provide for a high level of protection of the environment and to promote sustainable development. Optimally, SEA is a proactive tool to anticipate and prevent environmental damage.
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