Fri | Feb 28, 2020

Earth Today | Policymakers get training in climate change planning

Published:Thursday | February 21, 2019 | 12:07 AM
UnaMay Gordon (standing), head of the Climate Change Division, in conversation with participants at the gender and climate change focal point training workshop held last September.

WITH FUNDING from the United Nations Development Programme, the Climate Change Division is taking steps on the road to ensuring the effective integration of climate change considerations into national policy and planning in Jamaica.

The division, beginning today, will host a workshop on the subject that is to attract the participation of some 30 policymakers from across ministries, agencies and departments of the Government to Alhambra Inn in Kingston.

Workshop objectives include to identify appropriate methodologies for integrating climate change adaptation into the development of policies and plans at the national level; and to apply appropriate tools to select national policies to enhance climate change mainstreaming and evaluate the extent of climate proofing.

“The Climate Change Division has been doing different training events with different groups of professionals. We have done budget officers. From time to time, we do activities with the Climate Change Focal Point Network and with the gender focal points as well,” noted Ayesha Constable, who provides support to the division under the Japan Caribbean Climate Change Partnership.

“In keeping with that trend, we target specific groups as part of the wider effort to do climate change mainstreaming in a way that allows us to target every component, every sector and development process. In order to achieve a climate-resilient Jamaica, all these groups have to be fully on board and conversant. There is building awareness, but there is also giving them the tools to create converts, people who understand the why of it, and also the how of it,” she added.

For the purposes of the training, the workshop – to be led by trainer Vincent Little – will focus on the island’s migration policy (now a White Paper) and on its housing policy (now a Green Paper).

“All the exercises will be tailored around these two policies and doing the kind of integration in terms of climate proofing by looking at the deficiencies and seeing how they can be made more responsive to climate change,” Constable explained.

“Whereas climate change is now recognised as an issue to be considered in policy, I don’t think we yet have the kind of systemic integration in terms of policy development, and so that is what we hope to achieve, or at least start the process toward achieving,” she said.

Constable noted that this was especially so now, as countries move to fully operationalise the historic Paris Agreement which has as its goal “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change”.

Climate change is widely held to represent the most significant threat to development for both developing and developed countries, given impacts that include not only ongoing and/or accelerated warming of the planet fuelled by human consumption of fossil fuels, but also, among other things, sea level rise and extreme weather events, including extreme hurricanes and droughts. Impacts also extend to undermined water and food security, in addition to health implications, including the increase in vector-borne diseases, such as dengue.

“A lot of the work that will begin here in Jamaica right now is towards fulfilling the Paris Agreement Work Plan, so it is important to have people across sectors who are able to advance that work, especially in terms of planning and policy,” Constable said.

On their choice of policies to look at for the workshop, she said: “The thinking is that we wanted two policies at different stages of the process”. What is more, Constable noted, both migration and housing stand to be affected by climate change and, therefore, necessitate policy and planning for climate change.