Workshop: Economic Recovery with Sugar and Skills in Guyana

     

12 February 2021, Georgetown, Guyana – Sugar, cars and economic incentives: what do they have in common? Through greater use of biofuels, such as ethanol derived from sugar cane, there’s potential for green industrial policy to reduce Guyana’s environmental footprint within the transport sector.  

The workshop “Building back better through trade and industrial policy”, organized by PAGE in Guyana, addressed this particular topic — targeting questions such as: What policies could be adopted to link economic and environmental considerations? What circumstances call for sector-specific support? How can a government account for international legal frameworks when designing green industrial policies?  

The objective of the workshop was to build technical knowledge and skills related to the design, implementation and evaluation of public policy at the trade and industry interface, thus supporting local agents in the achievement of national sustainability goals. And to this end, key topics and stakeholders of the workshop were identified beforehand together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The sessions were attended by representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute and the Permanent Mission in Geneva. The training was held virtually in light of the ongoing pandemic. 

The sessions resulted in some tentative avenues for the way forward, such as targeted public investments in infrastructure and technology to improve competitiveness, as well as eco-certification enabling producers to capture price premia in national and international marketsParticipants noted that these policies, however, require careful deliberation among multiple actors in the public and private sphere due to their systemic nature.  

  

The organizers were supported by Prof. Leyland Lucas and Dr. Stephan Moonsamy, lecturers at the University of Guyana’s Business School. 

Transitioning effectively to a green economy requires the development of courses and capacities that help our students and decision-makers address difficult policy choices,” said Prof. Lucas. The training will help the Business School to create courses and programmes that enhance learning on these issues, encourage research to provide policy-influencing perspectives and contribute to sustainable development in Guyana.  

The agenda featured two distinct parts. first meeting was held from 8-10 December 2020, in which the group discussed concepts and empirical evidence associated with green trade and industrial policy. At a second meeting in January 2021, participants pitched their proposals in response to a number of policy challenges posed by the instructors at the first encounter.  

“Trade and industrial policy questions are highly complex. One could spend an entire semester only on multilateral frameworks for environmental goods and services. The idea is to build a bridge to local circumstances and problems via the fictitious case studies developed by the participants with the guidance of acclaimed policy practitioners,” noted Giuliano Montanari, Focal Point for Guyana at the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and co-organizer of the workshop. 

The workshop was also attended by Colette van der Ven, international trade lawyer and founder of TULIP Consulting, a Geneva-based consulting firm, and Patrick Low, Senior advisor to TULIP Consulting and former Chief Economist of the World Trade Organization (WTO). 

As Guyana seeks to develop its economy in a sustainable way, it is imperative that Guyanese policymakers have a clear understanding of different policy instruments that can be employed, and the advantages and disadvantages associated with these instruments,” Ms. van der Ven explained. 

Aligning environmental and socio-economic objectives is an inherently complex undertaking. Unsurprisingly, while the workshop provided some answers, it also stimulated further questionsBy bringing attention to the intricacies inherent to sustainable development, Guyanese government officials will be better equipped as they promote more concrete policy initiatives going forward.