Lindeners were on Saturday given an opportunity to join in the creation of a process which would allow citizens to exercise influence over ways in which Guyana’s oil and gas revenues would impact society.This opportunity was made possible through a public consultation hosted by Policy Forum Guyana (PFG), a partner in the programme Shared Resources Joint Solutions (SRJS). The ‘Open Space’ initiative, hosted at the Egbert Benjamin Centre in Mackenzie, Linden, aims at generating national consensus among ordinary Guyanese on how the “mega-revenues” expected from the country’s oil and gas sector can best deliver to the future of all Guyanese.It was the second in a series of five initiatives which are set to be conducted across the coastal regions in New Amsterdam, Anna Regina and Corriverton in the coming months. The PFG team to Linden was spearheaded by Coordinator Benita Davis, Mike Mc Cormack, Tatyana Abrams and Shevona Strain.According to Davis, the Open Space method is an excellent way to engage all citizens in a discussion on a complex issue like oil and gas. Apart from the ordinary people educating themselves about the consequences of oil and gas, Davis said, the event is also a valuable learning opportunity for many of the volunteers from Linden who may be experiencing the Open Space technique for the first time.The longer-term aim of the initiative, she explained, is to revive a collective belief among Guyanese that things could be different. “Rather than resigning ourselves to each one striving as individuals to better their own position within the existing society, if citizens act together, they can renovate society as a whole,” she explained.Among those present at the activity were several groups, including the Linden Youth leaders, Connection Youth Group and the Linden Youth Network. The groups engaged in discussions that were centred on developments they would like to see in the community and across the country coming from oil and gas revenues. This included the future development of Linden’s economy and job availability for graduates, among other things. They also embraced the opportunity to share issues and recommendations.Davis said the Open Space events have a two-year timeline set in three phases. These are (1) to create a national consensus on the common future to which all Guyana aspires, (2) to create a national consensus around priority mega projects best suited to advance the realisation of the common vision developed in phase one; and (3) to undertake environmental and social impact assessments, feasibility studies and cost of the projects identified in Phase two.
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