If Guyana does hasten moves in the direction of strengthening its infrastructural systems to handle the impacts of climate change, it could mean serious repercussions for 90 percent of the country which is settled on the coastal zone that is 2.5 metres below the high tide sea level.
This was recently highlighted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The institution was keen to note that climate change impacts not only threaten the nation’s existing infrastructure but also delays project-implementation, and increases the cost of construction and maintenance thereby creating debilitating conditions for Guyanese and their businesses if left unaddressed.
According to models of sea-level rise, Guyana is forecast to be one of the most affected countries in the Latin-American Caribbean (LAC) region, with some scenarios anticipating as much as 60 miles of coastline lost by 2050. The IDB noted that such a result would threaten much of the country’s present-day arable land, and existing infrastructure.
It was further noted that the climate change impacts on the sustainability of economic and social well-being extends to the agriculture sector, which generates one-fifth of Guyana’s Gross Domestic Product and employs one-third of the country’s economically active population. The Bank also noted that Guyana would suffer decreasing yields due to greater drought-like conditions.
Speaking briefly with the Guyana Standard, Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson said it is indisputable that Guyana’s infrastructural framework has a long way to go as it relates to climate change resilience. He noted however that moves have already been made to head in that direction.
Minister Patterson said, “When you are designing the sea wall now, we are not going at the traditional height. We have a design in mind that takes into account, the rising sea level and so it has to rise by one millimeter incrementally…”
The official added, “So we are already heading in this direction but we do acknowledge that we have a lot of work to do…”