Tue | Mar 20, 2018

Jamaica’s climate policy gets Cabinet approval

Published:Wednesday | March 11, 2015 | 12:00 AMPetre Williams-Raynor
Gillian Guthrie

After more than two years of work, Jamaica's Climate Change Frame-work Policy and Action Plan has received the Cabinet stamp of approval, paving the way for its submission to Parliament later this month.

"The process hasn't ended. It [the policy document] is still to be tabled in Parliament, but we have reached a very far way," revealed Gillian Guthrie, senior director of Environment and Risk Management at the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change.

"Cabinet has approved it, but they have asked us to do some additions to it. The next step is to make those amendments as per Cabinet instructions, and then to take it to Parliament," she added.

Guthrie would not divulge the stipulated additions.

Meanwhile, the policy framework and action plan, which has been the subject of much public consultation, has as its objectives:

n To mainstream climate change considerations into sectoral and financial planning and build the capacity of sectors to develop and implement their own climate change adaptation and mitigation plans;

n To support the institutions responsible for research and data collection at the national level on climate change impacts to Jamaica to improve decision-making and prioritisation of sectoral action planning; and

n To improve communication of climate change impacts so that decision-makers and the general public will be better informed.

As such, it provides for, among other things, a range of adjusted institutional arrangements, some of which have already been actioned. These include the establishment of a Climate Change Division, which is now up and running, and a network focal points comprising representatives from some 27 ministries and agencies of Government.

It also prescribes, according to the 2013 Green Paper submitted to Cabinet:

n The development of research, technology, training, and knowledge management;

n The promotion of consultative processes to improve public participation in mitigation and adaptation measures; and

n A set of principles to govern actions towards a secure climate future for Jamaica.

Those principles include sustainable use of natural resources; a multi-sectoral approach to climate change; public participation and collaboration; a precautionary approach; transparency and accountability; and best science.

"What it [the policy] will allow for is a coordinated and integrated approach to climate change," Guthrie told The Gleaner last week.

"It will allow for all stakeholders to participate and for more focused attention on climate change ... It is the pulling together of the institutional and legislative for a more cohesive approach to climate change," she added.

Jamaica, like other small island developing states of the Caribbean, is among the world's most vulnerable to climate impacts, which range from sea level rise and the associated loss of coastal livelihoods to more frequent and/or extreme weather events and the associated loss of lives and property.