During his 10 years in office, President Bharrat Jagdeo has helped lead Guyana towards a more prosperous, sustainable future. As the drafting of new climate legislation in Copenhagen draws nearer, President Jagdeo is collaborating with a number of organizations in Guyana and internationally, including CI, to both spread the word about Guyana’s commitment to forest protection and climate change mitigation, and to inspire collective action on a global scale.
An economist by profession, President Jagdeo first entered public service in Guyana’s State Planning Secretariat in 1990. He was appointed Junior Finance Minister in 1993 and promoted to Senior Minister of Finance in 1995. In this position, he led the production of Guyana’s National Development Strategy with the support of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s Carter Center. Jagdeo and the Carter Center went on to collaborate with African leaders, drawing on Guyana’s experience with its National Development Strategy to apply lessons for other countries.
After the retirement of former President Janet Jagan, Jagdeo was appointed as Guyana’s President in 1999. At age 35, he became one of the world’s youngest heads of government. Jagdeo was freely elected as President in 2001, and re-elected in 2006.
President Jagdeo’s tenure in office has seen unprecedented social and economic reform in Guyana, including improved access to education; health care reform; water and sanitation system expansion; and large-scale development of road, river and air transport networks. While pursuing these reforms, President Jagdeo also reduced the national debt and reformed the tax and investment regimes.
President Jagdeo served as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group from September 2005 until September 2006. He has been awarded the Pushkin Medal by the Government of Russia and the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award by the Government of India.
President Jagdeo was named one of Time magazine’s Heroes of the Environment in 2008 for his dedication to the conservation of Guyana’s forests and tackling climate change.
In recent years, President Jagdeo has spoken frequently of the need for developing countries to be at the forefront of identifying solutions to avert the worst extremes of climate change, whilst ensuring economic development of developing countries. He has repeatedly raised the issue at the United Nations and summits of Latin American and Commonwealth Heads of Government.
In June 2009, he launched a “Low Carbon Development Strategy”, hailed by a wide cross-section of the Guyanese people and the international community as being a unprecedented plan for national development that secures the forest ecosystem in the global fight to address climate change. This Strategy has received much support domestically and internationally, and it expected to be a critical model for developing countries to adopt after the Copenhagen Climate Change Meeting.