Minister of Housing and Water Collin Croal while addressing the United Nations (UN) on Thursday elaborated on Guyana’s “ambitious” housing drive and a new city aimed at addressing challenges in Georgetown.
Croal was at the time addressing a High-Level Meeting which was convened to assess the progress of the implementation of the UN’s New Urban Agenda.
The New Urban Agenda is a toolkit that helps governments and other stakeholders meet growing urban challenges including but not limited to homelessness, slums, growing inequality and the climate crisis, through planning and management.
Croal explained that through an aggressive country-wide housing programme implemented by the government, the country has seen a reduction in urbanization and rather accelerated development in rural areas.
“Over the last two decades, Guyana has seen a continuous reduction in the ratio of the urban population to the total population,” Croal said, noting that this is in part due to the implementation of an “ambitious” country-wide housing programme.
That housing programme is premised on key actions such as countrywide distribution of house lots, the development of new housing schemes and improving access to finance by low-income earners, he noted.
“These targeted actions are backed by significant fiscal support by the government and are guided by a manual for housing that emphasizes the three dimensions of sustainable development. Consequently, Guyana witnessed a reduction in rural-urban migration and accelerated development in rural areas,” Croal said.
Urbanization is a process whereby populations move from rural to urban areas, causing cities and towns to grow. The UN has reported that by 2030, six out of 10 people in the world are expected to live in urban areas.
The New Urban Agenda works as an accelerator of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 11 which is to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
Croal shared that Guyana is establishing a new city called ‘Silica City,’ a secondary city slated for the Soesdyke-Linden Highway, in a bid to eradicate the threats faced by Georgetown which is located below sea level.
The new city, which will become Guyana’s second city, is expected to cater for approximately 50,000 people and over 12,500 households. The plans for the city are being crafted through assistance from developers from Singapore.
Additionally, Croal highlighted that Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2030 is in line with stimulating growth in a sustainable manner.
“This includes implementing Sustainable Planning and Urban Development policies that address some of the challenges in urban areas, including improper solid waste disposal, flooding and inefficient modes of transit,” he shared.
Croal called for adequate financing for the full implementation of the New Urban Agenda, including through international partnerships and affirmed Guyana’s commitment to the objectives of the New Urban Agenda and to maintaining a constructive and innovative approach to issues of urbanization.
The UN Secretary General report on the New Urban Agenda highlights that the agenda lays out standards and principles for the planning, construction, development, management, and improvement of urban areas along its five main pillars of implementation.
Those pillars are national urban policies, urban legislation and regulations, urban planning and design, local economy and municipal finance, and local implementation.
The New Urban Agenda was adopted at the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016 and was endorsed by the UN General Assembly at its sixty-eighth plenary meeting of the seventy-first session in December 2016.