Ambassador Lynch delivers remarks at U.S. Disaster Response Assistance to the Guyana Civil Defence Commission

Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
U.S. Disaster Response Assistance to Guyana Civil Defence Commission
June 6, 2022

I am delighted to speak to you today about joint U.S. and Guyanese efforts to strengthen disaster response. In fact, today’s event marks two separate initiatives that help build local capacity and protect the Guyanese people and its natural resources.

First, I want to mark the recent conclusion of a robust oil spill response program, led by the U.S. Coast Guard, designed to enhance Guyanese capabilities.  As everyone is well aware, increasing offshore oil production holds numerous benefits for Guyanese citizens. This resource wealth is making transformational development possible, with new investments in a variety of areas, including infrastructure and social services.  We are already seeing the changes around us today in Georgetown and throughout the country.

The United States supports the responsible development and utilization of natural resources. Therefore, we positively responded to a request from the Government of Guyana to provide essential training to members of the CDC and the National Oil Spill Committee, to strengthen Guyana’s National Oil Spill Contingency Planning.  We are committed to providing the tools to Guyana to enhance its capacity in this area, and it is a sign of our commitment to regional security and environmental protection.

We are grateful to the U.S. Coast Guard for taking the lead on this training, and especially to the efforts of Lieutenant Jimmy Knudsen and Commander Wes James, who have joined us here today virtually. The training was made possible by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Energy Resources, and I thank the Bureau for the State Department’s support.

I was incredibly impressed by the comprehensive training program the U.S. Coast Guard led.  I do regret, due to pandemic considerations, that the activities were conducted virtually and not in person, but the training emphasized the importance of safety and security and environmental protection.  The five pillars of the training will be useful to Guyanese planners seeking to update the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan.  These include risk assessment; program management; exercise operation and observation; shoreline cleanup; and oiled wildlife response. While the U.S. Coast Guard led the planning of these exercises, I must also acknowledge the efforts of our partners at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, whose experts led the shoreline cleanup and oiled wildlife response portions of the training.  I would like to thank Mr. Steven Wall from NOAA for his partnership.

The interagency, cooperative nature of this endeavor highlights the resources and expertise the United States brings to bear in disaster response.  This bilateral engagement should not be, by any means, a one-time intervention.  The U.S. Coast Guard’s Office of International Affairs and Foreign Policy offers a number of virtual and in-person training opportunities that Guyana can pursue to continue to build local expertise.  The U.S. Embassy stands ready to help facilitate those interactions.

The series of trainings would not have been possible without the active engagement from our Guyanese partners.  We are at CDC headquarters today, as it takes the lead on disaster response. Nevertheless, I must note that the National Oil Spill Committee includes representatives from numerous agencies showing the broad stakeholder interest in this important issue that affects both Guyana and the region.  These agencies include the EPA, GDF, GRA, MARAD, GGMC, Guyana Energy Agency, Guyana Wildlife Conservation, and relevant Ministries, all of which sent representatives to attend these trainings. I would especially like to thank Major Salim October and his dedicated staff from the CDC for being our key interlocutors in this endeavor and ensuring full participation from across the committee for each of these trainings.

As a guest at CDC headquarters, I am heartened to announce additional commitments of the United States to Guyana’s disaster response capabilities.  Everyone living in Guyana is affected by seasonal flooding, which does serious damage to property and infrastructure. The CDC excels in providing assistance countrywide whenever Guyanese citizens suffer from flooding’s effects.  To further bolster the CDC’s abilities to help Guyanese citizens, the U.S. Embassy, through our Military Liaison Office, today marks the donation of equipment, to include tents, mats, sleeping bags, cots, tables, and generators, which the CDC can distribute to victims of natural disasters. These items are donated under U.S. Southern Command’s Humanitarian Assistance Program.

We look forward to continued opportunities for partnership to strengthen regional security, disaster response, the conservation of Guyana’s environment, and the protection of Guyana’s people.  Thank you very much.