Guyana

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Environmental Crime Legal Framework In Guyana

The protection of the environment is featured in the preamble of the nation’s constitution, which reads we, the Guyanese people, will:

  • Demonstrate our commitment to protect our natural environment and endowment
  • Create a republican community practically aware that the finances, industry, communications, education, business and technology of the world are global factors affecting all in which all must engage and from which all must benefit.
  • As citizens of Guyana, we adopt these fundamental laws and make provision for their amendment to reflect changes in our society, inspired by our collective quest for a perfect nation, whose characteristics include the commitments, concepts, and other principles proclaimed in this preamble

    Article 25 of the constitution outlines duties to improve the environment, stating “Every citizen has a duty to participate in activities designed to improve the environment and protect the health of the nation.”

    Article 36, on the other hand, reads “The well-being for the nation depends upon preserving clean air, fertile soils, pure water and the rich diversity of plants, animals and ecosystems.”

  • Featured Legislation

    1996: The Environmental Protection Act was passed, providing for the management, conservation, protection and improvement of the environment; the prevention or control of pollution; the assessment of the impact of economic development on the environment; and the sustainable use of resources and for matters incidental thereto or connected therewith.

    2000: The Environmental Protection (Hazardous Wastes Management) Regulations were adopted. The regulations provide rules for the generating, treatment, storage, disposal and transportation hazardous waste and the use of imported chemicals. Such activities require an environmental authorisation from the Environmental Protection Agency.

    2000: The Environmental Protection(Authorisations) Regulations were created to evaluate applications for an environmental authorisation to be made to the Environmental Protection Agency pursuant to sections 11, 19 or 21 of the Environmental Protection Act. They also concern the Register made pursuant to section 36 of the Act and require a holder of an environmental authorisation to make all records required by regulation 5.

    2000: The Environmental Protection (Air Quality) Regulations were brought into force, providing rules for the reduction and prevention of air pollution in Guyana. Any person who emits air contaminants shall register with the Environmental Protection Agency and a person who emits any air contaminant in the construction, installation, operation, modification or extension of any facility relating to: (a) industry; (b) commerce; (c) agriculture; or (d) any institution, shall apply to the Agency for an environmental authorisation.

    2000: The Environmental Protection (Noise Management) Regulations were introduced to ​​provide rules for the emission of noise. Emission of any noise in the construction, installation, operation, modification or extension of any facility relating to: (a) industry; (b) commerce; (c) transport; (d) construction; or (e) any institution, requires an environmental authorisation from the Environmental Protection Agency.

    2000: The Environmental Protection (Water Quality) Regulations were established to provide rules for the discharge of effluent into water and provide for the establishment of water quality standards.

    2009: Forests Act. This Act promotes the use of sustainable forestry, through participation with local communities. It also provides for the declaration of Protected Areas within the framework of the Environmental Protection Act and the establishment of a code of practice. The Act increases coordination with mining, introducing the requirement of a consultation before granting any licence for mining or petroleum prospecting or production. The Minister may make an order declaring any area of public forested land to be a State forest. The Act provides for sustainable management of state forests. The Forestry Commission may enter into forest concession agreements, community forest management agreements or afforestation agreement and grant exploratory permits or use permits.

    2011: Guyana National Forest Plan. The overall objective of the present National Forest Policy is the conservation, protection, management and utilisation of the nation’s forest resources, while ensuring that the productive capacity of the forests for both goods and services is maintained or enhanced. In particular, the specific objectives are: a) to promote sustainable and efficient forest activities which utilise the broad range of forest resources and contribute to national development while allowing fair returns to local and foreign entrepreneurs and investors; b) to achieve improved sustainable forest resource yields while ensuring the conservation of ecosystems, biodiversity, and the environment; c) to ensure watershed protection and rehabilitation: prevent and arrest the erosion of soils and the deforestation and degradation of forests, grazing lands, soil and water; promote natural regeneration, afforestation and reforestation; and protect the forest against fire, pests and other hazards; d) identify, quantify and assist in the marketing of environmental services to generate forest incentives for national development.

    2013: The Environmental Protection (Litter Enforcement) Regulations (No. 7 of 2013) were promulgated. These Regulations, made by the Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment under section 68 of the Environmental Protection Act 1996: define offences such as depositing litter in public places and littering of private premises, establish the post of litter prevention wardens (either appointed by a public authority or the Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment). All Litter Prevention Wardens report to the Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment.

    2015: The Environmental Protection (Expanded Polystyrene Ban) Regulations were signed. These Regulations prohibit the importation, manufacture and sale of expanded polystyrene products in Guyana and, subject to exceptions, the use of expanded polystyrene containers for food. The Regulations also promote the use of biodegradable, recyclable and environmentally-friendly containers in Guyana, applying to “food service establishments."

    Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

    • In May 2021: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) signed an agreement for US$ 9.8 million to launch a project entitled “Combating Transnational Conservation Crimes in the Amazon”. The project aims to improve regional cooperation and capacity of criminal justice personnel, aiding in the detection, investigation and prosecution of transnational conservation crimes in the Amazon. Guyana is known for its wildlife, forestry, and minerals crimes and the many complex challenges posed by criminal groups. As such, the project will focus on delivering both technical and normative support to safeguard Guyana’s natural resources. Guyana’s lush rainforests play an important role in mitigating the effects of climate change across the world, but have come under attack by animal poachers and miners who plunder the country’s natural resources. The project will make a concerted effort to include Guyana’s Indigenous peoples and other communities living in the Amazon because these communities have witnessed the effects of displacement, wildlife trafficking, illegal mining and corruption.  The four-year project will also cover Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Suriname, recognizing that transnational conservation crimes cause irreparable damage to the Amazon, posing grave health and security risks to the people of Guyana. USAID, inevitably, is hoping to apply a “whole-of-Amazon” systems approach to improve the  collaboration between law enforcement networks and justice system actors across the region. What is required at this juncture is an emphasis on intelligence-led investigations, interdictions and prosecutions.

    References and Further Reading

    Contacts

    Ministry of Natural Resources: publicaffairsunit@nre.gov.gy