Guyana has recorded multiple successes in the national quest to ensure environmental sustainability. The country has satisfied the target of integrating the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and is committed to significantly reducing biodiversity loss.
The MDG targets of halving the proportion of the population without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation have been met, and there have been notable increases in the population’s access to adequate housing. Government continues to pursue aggressive strategies to ensure that the entire nation benefits from access to safe water, improved sanitation and adequate and affordable housing. More concretely: The target of integrating the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes has been achieved through the implementation of Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). This bold environmental initiative outlines a sustainable development strategy, under which Guyana will deploy its forests to mitigate global climate change in return for payments from the world for the service its forests provide. These payments will then be used to support low-carbon economic investments. The first key to the success of the LCDS initiative lies in addressing the challenge of mobilizing the international community to adequately value the services provided by forests. A key area of focus in the environmental sector is the improvement of knowledge of present biological systems.
Vast improvements in access to safe drinking water have been made, which place Guyana ahead of its MDG target. Survey data in 2006 found that 91 percent of households had access to safe drinking water compared to 83 percent in 2000, and an estimated 50 percent in 1991. The key priority in the provision of safe water is to expand access in the hinterland regions and in remote areas.
There have been substantial improvements in access to sanitation. Census results in 1991 showed a high level of sanitation coverage at 96.9 percent of households. Preliminary survey data from 2009 point to almost universal access to sanitation. This survey also suggests that 84 percent of households are using facilities which are categorized as improved. The key priorities for the Government in improving sanitation include increasing access to facilities in hinterland regions, maintaining existing facilities and promoting up to standard sanitary practices.
Access to adequate and affordable shelter has been a priority of the Government which has a multi-pronged approach of facilitating property acquisition by low to moderate income groups, improving the living conditions of those occupying land in unplanned settlements, and providing appropriate care and re-integration services for homeless people.
Government has distributed approximately 82,000 house lots between 1993 and 2009, and continues to prioritize the expansion of access to housing to the lowest income groups.