Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Vaz wants firm global action on climate change

Published:Thursday | September 20, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Highlighting the urgency of concrete global action on climate change now, Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Daryl Vaz has pointed to the risk of devastation faced by Jamaica and its neighbours in the Caribbean.

Vaz was speaking at the G7 Environment Ministers' meeting in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, yesterday, where he gave the keynote address during a session on 'Adaptation & Conserving Nature', effectively representing Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

He reminded the summit of the catastrophic impact of hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 on some Caribbean states.

"I should note here that Jamaica is ranked as one of the most at-risk countries in the world, with 56 per cent of the island's economic assets and 70 per cent of the population located along coastal areas," he said.

Vaz pointed out that "there have been 14 hurricanes and 12 tropical storms in the last decade, which have affected life and livelihoods in coastal and inland areas in Jamaica. According to a World Bank study, Sea Level Rise and Storm Surges, the impact of sea-level rise and intensified storm surges in Latin America and the Caribbean will be highest in Jamaica".

He told the session that Jamaica's capacity for project implementation has improved in recent years but acknowledged the need for greater focus in this area.

"A key bottleneck identified for the design and implementation of nature-based infrastructure is the lack of data related to the ecological features that provide coastal protection as well as the co-benefits provided by ecosystems associated to livelihoods such as fisheries or carbon sequestration," the minister said.

"Without this data, it is difficult to develop economic analyses that compare hard and nature-based infrastructure, which is a critical step in the preparation phase for any intervention."

However, he made it quite clear that the Jamaican Government was not simply waiting on international intervention but was doing all it could by way of investments in climate-resilient infrastructure as well as ensuring that the necessary policy framework is put in place.