Guyana is set to host the largest gathering of experts on biodiversity of the Guiana Shield at the fourth International Congress on Biodiversity of the Guiana Shield from August 8 to 12, the local United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) office has announced.The Congress, which was officially launched on Friday, will be held under the theme: “Leveraging our high endemicity, cultural diversity and intact ecosystems for inclusive growth and secure futures.”Organisers at the launch of the IV International Congress on Biodiversity of the Guiana ShieldThe week-long event will be held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal, and it is anticipated that more than one hundred papers will be presented along with poster displays, discussion and capacity building sessions.Leading scientists, practitioners, policymakers and students in a variety of fields will be among the hundreds from around the globe expected to be in attendance. These include biomimicry expert, Dr Dayna Baumeister; forest policy professor, Dr Robert J Lilieholm and Dr Russell A Mittermeier, world renowned primatologist and conservation expert.The Congress discourse will cover the state of biodiversity and ecological functions of the Guiana Shield, biodiversity and communities: contribution and role of local and indigenous communities, biodiversity and climate, mainstreaming biodiversity in sustainable development, and gender and vulnerable groups.The Guiana Shield is one of Earth’s oldest geological formations, and is the single largest block of tropical forest remaining on the planet. The region is one of the most biologically rich and diverse in the world; with its pristine forests, largely uncontaminated aquatic ecosystems, and other intact ecosystems. It is also home to many rare and unique species. A variety of indigenous and other communities depend, some almost exclusively, on its environment for their livelihood.Over the past two decades, however, countries of the Shield have sought to intensify exploitation of their natural resources as a means of alleviating poverty and promoting socio-economic development. This has resulted in emergence of a multiplicity of challenges, including land use conflicts and biodiversity loss.The International Congress on Biodiversity of the Guiana Shield was last held in Paramaribo, Suriname in August 2013. Macapa City, in the Brazilian state of Amapa, hosted the second congress in 2010, and Venezuela was the host of the inaugural congress in 2006.The Guyana Society for Biodiversity and Ecosystems (GSBE) is coordinating the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the Congress. The LOC includes the Natural Resources Ministry, UNDP, Iwokrama International Centre, University of Guyana, and the local offices of Conservation International and World Wildlife Fund Guianas.Sponsorship of the Congress is being sought. Significant contributions have already been received from the Government of Guyana, through the Ministries of the Presidency and Natural Resources. Pledges and contributions have also been received from WWF-Guianas, UNDP, Caricom and Camex Restaurant Inc.GSBE is a local chapter of the International Biodiversity Society of the Guiana Shield (IBG) – established with a view to addressing a multiplicity of socioeconomic, political, cultural and environmental issues confronting the Guiana Shield region.Registered as a friendly-benefit Society, the GSBE is a non-governmental, charitable and non-profit making body. It promotes conservation, research and wise management of biological diversity and ecosystems in Guyana and the wider Guiana Shield through its affiliations with partner associations in the region and beyond.