Former President of Guyana Bharrat Jagdeo was honoured by Trent University on June 5, with an Honorary Doctorate, his fifth such honour in recent years.
The honour was conferred on Mr Jagdeo in recognition of his global advocacy for averted climate change through avoided deforestation, by linking economic development in forested countries to carbon sequestration, ecosystem services and preservation of biodiversity.
The citation was read by Guyanese Professor Suresh Narine, director of the Trent Centre for Biomaterials Research, and was attended by approximately 20 Guyanese dignitaries and academics.
From L – R: President of Trent University, Steven Franklin, Professor at Trent, Suresh Narine, Honorary Doctorate awardee Bharrat Jagdeo, Chair of the Trent Board, Anne Wright, and Chancellor of Trent University, Tom Jackson
Mr. Jagdeo urged the graduating students, parents and assembled academics to ensure that they play a role in the efforts to address the environmental issues facing the planet, in particular, climate change, as it was not sufficient to leave the issue up to scientists and political leaders. “Ensure you do not sleep walk through life,” he said to the graduands. “You have within you individual and collective power to effect the massive changes necessary to turn around the catastrophic outcome towards which the world is headed unless climate change is addressed.”
In his keynote message at Trent’s outdoor Convocation ceremony, Guyana’s former President said, “The most challenging barrier to concerted action to avert catastrophic climate change in our world relates to policy.” He told the attentive audience of about 1600 individuals, “You have the individual and collective power to ensure that the correct enabling policies are adopted by your governments, through your advocacy, votes, and voices.”
The former president pointed out that it was no longer just an environmentally important imperative to address climate change, but that climate change threatened the economic viability of all nations on the planet. He made a convincing argument that the longer the wait, the more expensive the steps necessary to abate climate change will be, and that at some crucial tipping point, it will no longer be possible to halt climate change, regardless of the cost.
Trent University has a world-class reputation in Environmental and Resource Sciences, Water Science and Biomaterials. In his address to the graduating class of 2013, Prof. Narine said of Dr. Jagdeo: “We face a series of interrelated challenges, availability and affordability of energy, availability of clean water, a growing world population and increasing food scarcity, sustained meltdown of the world’s financial systems, continued mal-distribution of wealth, resources and opportunities between the developed and developing world, and, Climate Change as a result of anthropogenic activities, including massive deforestation. These challenges urgently demand global leaders who are transformative thinkers: women and men who are capable of convincing political leaders, the private sector and mass populations alike, across borders, cultures and nationalistic interests, of the urgent imperative for concerted action. Bharrat Jagdeo is such a leader.”
In December, 2012, Mr Jagdeo was conferred an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Central Lancashire, in recognition of his global leadership on climate change, low carbon development and green growth. Earlier in that year, he received another, in Philosophy from the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) University in New Delhi, India. In 2010, he received an honorary doctorate from the People’s Friendship University of Russia and in 2011 he was also conferred a Doctorate from the DY Patil University of Mumbai, India.