A walk for water
WITH THE stress of the recent drought still fresh in a lot of minds, it was little wonder that water was made the focus of Climate Walk 2016, and 1,000 Jamaicans, the majority of them young people, supported it.
With the benefit of banners and posters, and in a carnival-like atmosphere, walkers made the journey from Emancipation Park in Kingston to Half-Way Tree and back on December 3.
With the theme 'Secure Water for All', the goal was to raise awareness about climate change - a clear and present danger to water security, given, among other things, the prospect of warmer temperatures, more severe droughts and rising sea levels.
While the consensus is that greater numbers would have been welcomed, organisers are satisfied.
"We would always prefer a larger number as the aim of the walk is to sensitise and increase awareness," noted Nalini Jagnarine, environmental analyst and business development coordinator at Environmental Solutions Limited.
"Many events took place that day, but regardless, the turnout was great and the aim of the walk was accomplished," she added.
Colonel Oral Khan, chief technical director in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, said, too, that there was room for greater public support.
However, he maintained that the Climate Change Awareness Week of activities - which concluded with the Climate Walk, a concert involving Panos Caribbean's Voices for Climate Change Education artistes and a climate smart expo - was a positive step.
WEEK OF AWARENESS
"The walk culminated the activities around Climate Change Awareness Week. Much of the earlier activities did not really engage the (general) public and so we were happy for this event. The public's attention was drawn to the fact that climate change is a reality. We attracted a lot of onlookers along the way and I hope they could appreciate the message," he said.
The Climate Week of activities included a visit from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which "assesses the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change".
That visit saw the hosting of a media-training workshop organised by Panos Caribbean; engagement between government actors and IPCC scientists as well as with students and members of the local academic community.
The University of the West Indies also launched its supercomputer SPARKS. SPARKS - the Scientific Platform for Applied Research and Knowledge Sharing - was financed to the tune of US$750,000 by the Inter-American Development Bank under the Regional Track of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience.
"Climate change is affecting us all and will continue to affect us and future generations. It is everyone's business," said Jagnarine.
"The time to act is now. Be a part of a movement to increase awareness of climate change ad its impacts on Jamaica and how we as Jamaican business owners, youth, teachers, etc, can learn to mitigate and adapt to climate change," she added.
Proceeds from this year's climate walk - the tally for which is still ongoing - will go to the installation of rainwater harvesting systems in select vulnerable schools.