Remarks by Ambassador Lynch at Launch of Guyana Extractives Industry Transparency Week

Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
Launch of Guyana Extractives Industry Transparency Week Virtual Conference
June 7, 2021

Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. Vickram Bharrat
Hon. Ministers of Government,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
EITI National Coordinator, Dr. Rudy Jadoopat
Executive Director of PADF,  Katie Taylor
Regional Director of EITI Latin America and the Caribbean, Francisco Paris
Members of the Private Sector,
Members of the Press,
Distinguished Guests,

It is with great pleasure that I speak to you today about the advances Guyana has made in pursuing greater transparency and good governance in the extractives sector.

Good governance is the responsibility of everyone. USAID’s Guyana Extractives Sector Transparency (GYEST) Project and other U.S. Government partners are working with the Guyanese government, the private sector and civil society to support Guyana’s stewardship of its natural resources and wealth.

Each of these partners has an important role in ensuring that operational, monitoring and reporting systems are transparent.  Good governance assures the equitable distribution of resources for the benefit of all.

Here are some examples of how the partners have each participated in steps toward good governance:

Before applying to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, or EITI, Guyanese government stakeholders worked with U.S. Government partners to prepare for candidacy.

The Guyana Government also set up the National Secretariat, or GYEITI, which is in charge of coordinating EITI implementation. As a result of many collective actions partners were taking at the time, Guyana became an EITI Candidate country in October 2017.

Subsequently in 2019, USAID’s GYEST project began.  The team has worked with local partners to identify gaps in mainstreaming and disclosure to meet EITI requirements.

As a result of the USAID program and the diligent efforts of our partners, journalists wrote investigative pieces on the extractive sector and promoted transparency in the sector.

Civil society organizations are working within their communities to improve public knowledge of transparency in the sector and involve the public in governance processes.

The GYEITI secretariat has also developed communications products to improve public knowledge of transparency in the extractives sector and build public involvement in governance processes. And a new GYEITI website was developed and will improve Guyana’s monitoring and reporting capabilities.

Through these coordinated efforts, different partners played critical roles in improved transparency and good governance.

In 2020, USAID increased support for the GYEST project by $500,000, making the total investment $1 million U.S. Dollars.

The U.S. Government has also supported other programs and partnerships. In April this year, the U.S. Embassy hosted a series of virtual programs to honor environmental awareness month, and we held a session on mining.

That session confirmed that Guyana is a regional leader in mining sector legislation and stakeholder participation. I would like to think that the GYEST project had something to do with that.

A special thank you to the Guyana Geology Mines Commission, Conservation International, and the Guyana Women Miners’ Association, which exemplify the diverse stakeholder participation that has become the norm for Guyana’s mining sector.

The April sessions also provided an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss deforestation and mercury pollution, the most common environmental effects associated with mining.

I understand there are new technologies that are being explored that will reduce environmental degradation and enhance sustainable practices.

The NGO sector is vital in these efforts, as their work with the communities and identifying vulnerable or trafficked persons is a significant contribution to the overall health of the industry.

Mining, one contributing partner to the extractives sector, creates 12,000 -18,000 jobs for Guyanese. The importance of the industry’s transparency and robust checks and balances cannot be overstated. And the GYEST project has shown that transparency works. Civil society matters. Journalism matters.

It takes all stakeholders working together to build an industry that is transparent and successful. Jobs within the sector feed families, they put children in school. They help build a diverse economy, and they help build a nation.

What we have done here together in the extractives sector should be a model for other industries in the country and the region.

As the White House nominee for Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Ambassador Brian Nichols said, “It’s one thing to be elected democratically. It’s another to govern democratically.”

The presence of international as well as national organizations in this meeting shows the power and importance of promoting good governance, across the spectrum.

In terms of next steps, I know the foundation has been laid, and there are talented people involved in ensuring that Guyana keeps a favorable position with EITI.

This broad participation is also a model for replication in other sectors. Guyana’s future is too important. Stakeholders across the sectors should replicate this robust collaboration, so that all Guyanese are benefitting from its wealth and progress.

Thank you to the organizers of today’s meeting. Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. I hope that as participants engage in the week’s activities, you are able to strengthen this coordination and continue to advance the work needed in the extractives sector.

It is critical to Guyana’s continued progress and development. Thank you very much.