Sat | Jan 16, 2021

Woman in charge - Climate Change Division gets female head

Published:Wednesday | September 7, 2016 | 12:00 AMPetre Williams-Raynor
UnaMay Gordon
Albert Daley
UnaMay Gordon

From getting acquainted with how government does business to informing and reassuring partners and planning for the Marrakesh negotiations in November, it's been a whirlwind of activities for the new captain at the helm of the Climate Change Division.

But no neophyte to work and management in the development arena, UnaMay Gordon, 58, has been handling things with aplomb.

The first order of business has been to get the lay of the land and to make some decisions as to direction.

"I took over the division in the middle of the year. It means, therefore, that an operational plan would already be in place. I am looking at it now to see what was done, what was achieved and spending time tying up loose ends. Most of that is completed now," Gordon, who has been in the position for just a month, told The Gleaner.

She comes to the division following two years of work as an environmental consultant and having served in various capacities with organisations such as the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and GraceKennedy Limited.

Partners have been written to on the change in leadership and the necessary steps taken to settle Jamaica's representation and/or participation in various climate change processes and events.




Meanwhile, work at the division - tasked to coordinate, facilitate and support climate change mainstreaming in Jamaica, from adaptation to mitigation, together with finance - goes on.

Cabinet recently gave the nod for a Climate Change Advisory Board to replace what was the Climate Change Advisory Committee headed by Dr Conrad Douglas. The division is now seeing to it that that is operationalised.

"We are (also) looking at what is going on with the climate change focal point and how we are going to use them to assist with the work of the division. There will be increased focus on the network to ensure we can deliver on the mandate," revealed Gordon, who compiled Jamaica' First National Communication on Climate Change to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and is the principal author for the island's national biodiversity strategy.

There are currently some 27 designated focal points inside various ministries and agencies of government to advance the integration of climate change considerations into the planning for and operations of each entity.

Also on the agenda, Gordon said, is attention to the Climate Change Policy Framework.

"The policy framework is set within (Jamaica's national development plan) Vision 2030. I would want to ensure that we are implementing the policy, which is the guide for the Government's work and to ensure that there is a monitoring framework in place to track the progress," said the woman, who founded the Institute for Sustainable Livelihood Leadership and Exchange that promotes entrepreneurship as a vehicle for sustained livelihood among youth and women in the Americas.

Ongoing stakeholder engagement is another crucial element of the work of the division now and in the future- as is growing the small staff.

Two years ago, the division got going with a secretary, a principal director (Albert Daley) and two senior technical officers - one with responsibility for adaptation (Dr Orville Gray) and the other for mitigation (Gerald Lindo).

In the last two months, both Daley and Lindo have left.

With Gordon in as Daley's replacement, she said efforts are under way to have a new mitigation officer join the team. Recruitment of a public relations officer and consultant behaviour change specialist is also underway.

There are, too, efforts to take advantage of available support for climate change financing personnel.

"The plan is to make modifications and to ensure that we manage, especially with our international partners, the gap that was left by the transition and to ensure that the representation to the international community is maintained seamlessly," said Gordon, the holder of a masters in environmental sciences from Wageningen Agriculture University in Holland and recipient of the honorary degree of Doctorate of Philosophy in Humanities from the United Graduate College and Seminary International.

"Jamaica has been a leader. We have led a number of the international processes, so just to ensure there is no gap, that is very important for me," she added.