Reformed climate change advisory body coming
The Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change is shortly to have a revamped climate change advisory body up and running after more than a year's hiatus.
"The minister [Robert Pickersgill] is reviewing the role of that entity, including the whole governance structure and coordinating of the climate change portfolio as a committee," the chief technical director in the ministry, Colonel Oral Khan, told The Gleaner at the end of last month.
Pickersgill, he said further, is also reviewing the list of persons who will serve the reformed body, which is to manifest as a board with fewer than the previous 25 members.
Dr Conrad Douglas, who headed the committee whose first two-year term ended in April 2014, confirmed that work was well under way for the new board.
"Work is being done to re-establish the committee [and] it is far advanced. They have been in touch with me about the composition, and so forth," he said.
News of the reformed body comes as Jamaica struggles under the weight of a drought - counted among climate-change impacts - and the associated devastating water shortages.
According to Douglas, who is tipped to head the body during its second sitting, water would be among the priority areas for them going forward, together with energy, food security and coastal resources.
He noted that given current climate-realities - including not only rainfall variability, but also temperature increases, extreme weather events, sea-level rise, and coastal erosion - the need for the advisory body "is greater now than ever before".
"The whole thing is accelerating worldwide and the impacts we are seeing are much greater. Look at the situation, for example, with water ... . It is disrupting lives and livelihoods, small and big business," he noted. "We are not looking at something to take place in the future; it is happening now. The impacts can be seen throughout the entire country and will intensify going forward. There is no mistaking the science now.
"Even with the greatest amount of will and capital, adaptation alone cannot take care of it ... . We need also to take action at the international level. This requires a response from the global community," Douglas said further, suggesting that the reformed body would have to help to answer that need.
Khan said while the board is to "primarily advise the minister", it would also be available to the Climate Change Division.
The Climate Change Division - tasked with leading Jamaica's climate-change efforts - was set up with input from the previous advisory body.
Currently staffed by a team including two technical officers together with the division head, it has seen the establishment of a network of climate-change focal points and is, among other things, working now on intended nationally determined Contributions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions for submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.