ExxonMobil Foundation will contribute US$10 million to a new collaboration with Conservation International and the University of Guyana to train Guyanese for sustainable job opportunities and to expand community-supported conservation.

The investment is also intended to support Guyana’s Green State Development Plan, the country’s 15-year development plan that aims, among other things, to diversify Guyana’s economy and balance economic growth with the sustainable management and conservation of the country’s ecosystems. The ExxonMobil Foundation will provide the investment over five years.

Initial grant money will fund a feasibility study driven by Conservation International, through its affiliate, Conservation International Guyana, to further define the details of the program. Once defined, Conservation International Guyana and the University of Guyana will deliver the education, training, research and retention programs that will help ensure that economic growth reinforces Guyana’s environmental development goals.

The investment is also intended to expand conservation areas in the Rupununi Wetlands, aid mangrove restoration and management and support improvements to community-based fishing on Guyana’s coast, a sector the government of Guyana has identified as critically important to the wellbeing of the Guyanese people, and support the work of the University of Guyana’s Greening Research and Innovation Centres.

“This partnership will support the highest conservation priorities for the country as well as education and training for sustainable employment,” said Kevin Murphy, president of the ExxonMobil Foundation. “It reinforces the government’s objectives as outlined in its Green State Development Strategy and demonstrates the value we place on our long-term relationship with the citizens of Guyana.”

“Guyana stands at a critical crossroads in its development,” said Jennifer Morris, president of Conservation International. “By investing in both people and nature, this partnership will play an important part in helping Guyana execute its vision for a green future.”

“A central feature of Guyana’s development plans is its Green State Development Strategy which envisions a commitment to a green economy, sustainable development and protection of its forests and fresh water resources aligned with the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals,” said Professor Nigel E. Harris, chairman of the University of Guyana Council. “Funding support for a collaborative effort between Guyana’s leading university, Conservation International and ExxonMobil Foundation promises a critical opportunity to build relevant teaching, research and outreach capacity at our university that is necessary to underpin Guyana’s 2030 Vision for an inclusive, green and prosperous state.”

At this stage, Conservation International anticipates that training will be focused on environmental innovation and sustainability, and on entrepreneurship in nature-based sectors. Conservation International will tap its partnerships with key international universities such as Arizona State University in the United States to help develop the programs.

Conservation International is the grantee and the University of Guyana a key beneficiary. Conservation International, with over 20 years’ experience in Guyana, will take the lead in managing project objectives and implementation, including success measures as well as financial and reporting requirements of this multi-year partnership. Conservation International has been working in Guyana with over 50 communities to protect nearly 3 million acres of indigenous lands while also improving livelihoods.

ExxonMobil is placing an emphasis on supporting local priorities, including business and employment opportunities as well as broader community programs in Guyana. The company has spent about US$39 million with local suppliers in Guyana through 2017 and first quarter 2018. Approximately 68 percent of ExxonMobil’s current in-country employees are Guyanese.