The 32nd Annual Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) Conference and Exhibition was formally opened on Monday evening at the Marriott Hotel, Georgetown.
It was emphasised that the event serves as a foundation to achieving climate resilience and enhancing water security in the Caribbean region.
Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips made this assertion at the opening of the five-day conference, themed, “Accelerating Change in the Water, Wastewater, and Solid Waste Sectors’.
The PM noted that the event comes at a time when Guyana and the region are braced with the El Nino weather pattern, which is threatening water security and food supply.
As such, he underlined the importance of Caribbean leaders and members of the private sector working concertedly, to tackle the challenges that lie ahead and ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for the generations to come.
“By integrating climate resilience into our water strategies and policies, we can safeguard our communities, ecosystems and the future of our planet. Only through concerted and sustainable efforts can we truly make a difference, ensuring a more secure and resilient future for all,” the prime minister underscored.
He added, “I believe this conference can lay the foundation for creating a regional platform for the Caribbean nations to exchange information and best practices in tackling water challenges and enhancing water security and sustainability.”
PM Phillips stressed that governments in the region must commit to investing in modern water infrastructure and technology, which includes expanding water treatment facilities, pipelines and distribution systems to minimise losses.
“It also involves incorporating smart monitoring and management systems that can enhance efficiency and help in the early detection of water-related issues. In addition, sustainable practices like rainwater harvesting and wastewater recycling should be encouraged to reduce the strain on freshwater resources,” he further elaborated as he noted that public awareness and information are integral to promoting water conservation.
The senior government official emphasised that “Communities must understand the value of water and the impacts of wasteful practices. Public campaigns and educational programmes can foster a culture of water conservation. Encouraging the adoption of water-saving technologies such as low flow fixtures and efficient irrigation systems can significantly reduce water consumption.”
Minister of Housing and Water Collin Croal acknowledged that although the issue is a complex one, the region has the technology, knowledge and determination to address the interconnected challenges.
He sounded the Government of Guyana’s commitment to ensuring that every Guyanese has access to safe and secure water resources as well as investing in advanced water structures to aid water security.
Minister Croal also pointed out that there must be improved monitoring, data sharing and assessments of water resources and accompanying investments to address the water deficiency caused by the impacts of climate change.
Meanwhile, Minister within the Housing and Water Ministry, Susan Rodrigues informed delegates and attendees that the government’s expanded Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS2030) addresses integrated water resource management, which also aims to reduce the instances of poverty and gender inequality.
The conference is being hosted by the Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Housing and Water in collaboration with Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI). Several ministers of government from the Caribbean countries were also in attendance at the formal opening ceremony.
Some 500 delegates and exhibitors are participating in the conference, which runs from October 23-27, 2023.