Earth Today | Priority for climate change mainstreaming
THE WORK to make climate-change considerations central to national development planning is a priority for the island's Climate Change Division (CCD) this year.
"The integration of climate-change concerns into the development planning; that is really what the focus is," said UnaMay Gordon, the division's principal director.
To bring that about, they are looking to build on efforts to strengthen the climate change focal point network, which is comprised of more than 27 representatives from ministries, departments and agencies of government, tasked to enable climate change mainstreaming in the operations of their respective entities.
"We had done a needs' assessment of the focal point network last year and a number of things had come up. One is (the need for) capacity development and exposure," Gordon told The Gleaner.
To address that need, she said the division had begun to have representatives from the network represent the island at regional and international meetings on climate change and related issues.
"The tourism representative (for example) went to a NAP (national adaptation plan) meeting in Costa Rica that was put on by the NAP Global Network and other parties. We had a representative attending a NAP meeting in Guyana as well ... and therefore, the capacity is being built," the CCD boss said, adding that there would be more of that this year.
Beyond the strengthening of the focal point network, for which a coordinator is being recruited, she said that the division would, among other things, look to continue the national discussion on climate change.
"We had the training last year for the budget officers in the various ministries; those kinds of activities will continue," she noted.
"We will also continue the engagement at the municipal level. At the end of the last year, we started with the St Catherine Municipal Corporation. We made a presentation looking at potential impacts in St Catherine and what are some of the adaptation ideas that the council should be considering. The next one on the agenda is Portmore," Gordon added.
Prioritise climate change
Much has been made internationally of the need to prioritise climate change mainstreaming, allowing climate considerations to move from the periphery to the centre of planning, particularly for those, such as small island developing states, that stand to be worse impacted.
Counted among the impacts of climate change are not only higher global temperatures that threaten increased incidents of disease such as dengue, but also sea level rise that stand to significantly disrupt coastal lives and livelihoods, as well as extreme weather events, including hurricanes the likes of which were experienced in the Caribbean last year.
Those hurricanes left billions of dollars in damage and several lives lost, helping to make the case for "the integration of climate change adaptation, in a coherent manner, into relevant new and existing policies, programmes and activities, in particular development planning processes and strategies, within all relevant sectors and at different levels, as appropriate", as reflected in a 2011 decision of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.