Director of Power and Money at Oxfam America, Ian Gary, is of the firm view that Guyana’s National Oil Spill Plan should have been completed more than 18 months ago. With the prevailing state of affairs, Gary categorically stated that Guyana is setting itself up for “ultimate danger.”
Speaking with the Guyana Standard recently, Gary said that since 2015, the nation should have acceded to the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (WCR) (Cartagena Convention).
The Director explained that the Convention, which came into force in 1986, is a legally binding, regional multilateral environmental agreement for the protection and development of the WCR. He noted that the Cartagena Convention deals with oil-related issues through the Protocol Concerning Co-operation in Combating Oil Spills in the Wider Caribbean Region (Oil Spills Protocol) and the Protocol Concerning Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities (LBS Protocol).
Gary explained that the objective of the Oil Spills Protocol is to strengthen national and regional preparedness and response capacity to oil spills. He said that the Protocol also serves to foster and facilitate cooperation and mutual assistance among the nations and territories in cases of emergency in order to prevent and control major oil spill incidents.
He said, “All Caribbean countries, except Guyana, Haiti, and The Honduras have acceded to the Oil Spills Protocol. Now for the LBS Protocol, this sets forward general obligations and a legal framework for regional cooperation, provides a list of priority source categories, activities, and associated pollutants of concern, and promotes the establishment of pollution standards and schedules for implementation.”
The Director noted that together these protocols ensure legal protection against negligence by oil companies. “The Protocols ensure that they pay up,” he added.
The Oxfam head further said, “Why Guyana has not acceded to the Protocols more than three years after finding oil is unfathomable. Citizens must demand answers from the Government on this matter.”
Oxfam America is a confederation of 20 independent charitable organisations which seeks to fight some of the factors that lead to poverty, one of them being the poor governance of extractive wealth.