…Guyana to craft land policyThe Partnership Initiative for Sustainable Land Management (PISLM) convened its third high-level session of sustainable land management in the Caribbean last week and according to members of the delegation, the meeting was fruitful and encouraging.The delegation of Caribbean representatives led by the Minister of State, Joseph Harmon (centre front row) at Thursday’s meetingThis was the position shared by representatives of the 10 participating Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) on Friday, during a press conference at the Marriott Hotel.Chairman of the PISLM Task Force and Commissioner of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission, Trevor Benn explained that a number of recommendations and decisions were taken by the delegation, which featured persons from Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Guyana, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname.He noted that much of Guyana’s input would be aligned to the Green State Development Strategy, but there were plans to craft a national land policy.Benn related, “When it comes to the issue of sustainable land management, we are taking a number of steps, including for the first time in Guyana, we are going to be having a national land policy. We’re working on a national land policy, revising all of our land use plans. We are trying to make them more descriptive than prescriptive.”In his remarks, Jamaica’s Local Government and Community Development Minister, Desmond Mc Kenzie noted this region was prone to natural disasters and as such, proper land management was critical, especially in the heights of climate change.“The discussion centred on the Region and the Region’s response to critical areas. The areas of discussion involving lands speak to a much broader picture than just the question of lands because most of the Region is prone to natural disasters,” Mc Kenzie told media operatives.Agriculture and Lands Minister of Grenada, Yolande Bain-Horsford concentrated on the fact that her country was ahead in land management and soil degradation.“We have started a project in soil mapping and soil fertility. We are moving in the right direction. Also, we have a land policy and we’re also looking at a land bank project,” said the Grenadian Minister.Local Minister of State, Joseph Harmon had related on Thursday during his feature address that the Caribbean Community was on a developmental trajectory and many foreign territories were seeking the Region’s input in important environmental issues.According to him, achieving land degradation neutrality will improve livelihood and contribute to food security in these countries.Harmon said, “It is because of the importance which the world sees in what is happening in this region that they have identified and will continue to identify people from this region to speak on these important issues of land and climate in the world.“Guyana, as well as other Caribbean SIDS, has made substantial progress in these areas stated above and High-Level Meetings of this nature ensure that work continues with strong political support and policy directives,” he added.Some of the other areas discussed included soil care, the collaboration with Caricom on this partnership, support from the Region and the land degradation neutrality project. This provided a medium for the exchange of ideas and the formulating of actions from these decisions to better land management in these Caribbean states.Ambassador Troy Hollingsworth of the Foreign Affairs Ministry also used the opportunity to share his thoughts, noting that: “Poverty, achieving food security, reversing inequality and achieving gender equality all find solutions for health with respect to how we utilise the land. I believe it is important that we develop the approaches and integrated policies that will reinforce and accelerate progress.”Earlier this week, PISLM had organised a workshop for United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) national focal points from Guyana, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Haiti, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre in Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown with the aim of setting the agenda for these sustainable land management discussions.