Countries and territories that share the ecological unit of the Guiana Shield also share a number of key lifeweb features that are important for sustainable human development. These features include varied, yet unique and intact ecosystems, high numbers of endemic flora and fauna and social biodiversity. Together these unique features and globally important orders of magnitude of goods and services that the ecosystems provide make the Guiana Shield a special place on earth. Governments know this, international development partners know this, scientists and conservation practitioners know this, and communities live it. Ironically, the countries and territories of the Guiana Shield are also rich in mineral and hydrocarbon resources which when extracted and marketed help the source countries to absorb global economic shocks and to create unequal wealth. However, investments in extractives are driving up rates of deforestation, threatening the stability of climate, and causing these high forest low deforestation countries to default on commitments to multilateral environment conventions such as the UNFCCC and CBD.
What are your thoughts on how such countries could leverage high value ecosystem goods and services for sustainable human development instead of the quick economic fix of extractives that deplete the natural resource base? Do you see a role for transboundary cooperation to achieve that objective?