Government to revisit Negril coastline challenges
A GOVERNMENT minister has divulged the intent to revisit the challenge of protecting Negril's shoreline, months after Cabinet opted to terminate component one of Jamaica's Adaptation Fund project that should have provided at least a partial remedy.
"In Negril, beach erosion is a very real issue and we will need to speak again with all the stakeholders to come up with a practical and workable solution to save the white sand beaches for which Negril is renowned," said Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Daryl Vaz.
He was speaking last Tuesday at the opening of stakeholder discussions post the international climate talks held in Marrakech last October.
Change already evident
Vaz said climate change is already in evidence in several areas of Jamaica.
"You will notice the big boulders along the Palisadoes Strip as you drive to the airport or to Port Royal. The boulders are an attempt to keep the sea water off the road and from cutting off access to the airport ... But there are many other instances of sea level rise: in Port Royal; Rocky Point in South Eastern Clarendon; Southern St. Elizabeth and sections of Falmouth, Trelawny that are close to the sea," he said.
Sea level rise and associated coastal erosion are not the only impacts of a changing climate. Others include rising temperatures and an increase in the frequency and/or intensity of extreme weather events, notably hurricanes and droughts.
They are not impacts, Vaz suggested, from which the island can hide.
"We need to enable and empower the poorest and most vulnerable among us, including our women and children, to adapt to and cope with some of the intense and often devastating weather conditions associated with climate change," he told his audience at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in Kingston last week.
Jamaica's Adaptation Fund project originally valued at US$9,185,000, with some US$5,480,780 of that sum to have been expended under component one to increase the climate resilience of the Negril coastline is geared at helping to meet this objective.
However, Negril hoteliers remained opposed to the installation of breakwaters, which was the intervention approved to help arrest the erosion being experienced in the western resort town under the project titled "Enhancing the Resilience of the Agriculture Sector and Coastal Areas to Protect Livelihoods and Improve Food Security".
They favoured instead beach nourishment.
Cabinet ultimately opted in the face of their persistent lobby against the breakwaters, which had included written complaints to the Adaptation Fund Board Secretariat and to the Office of the Public Defender.
The Planning Institute of Jamaica, acting as the designated National Implementing Entity for the project, meanwhile, had made efforts to have the matter mediated in order to reach consensus on a way forward. Those efforts failed, in the face of investigations by the OPD, which ultimately presented findings in favour of the hoteliers.
The other two components of the project are progressing.