Sat | Oct 19, 2019

Climate-smart strategies critical to our survival

Published:Thursday | August 1, 2019 | 12:21 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer

The Caribbean does not have the luxury of engaging in a philosophical debate on climate change, given that every year without fail, one or more of our islands will be hit by weather events with greater frequency and intensity, which can wipe out an entire economy several times over in a few hours.

That was the chilling reminder from Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Pearnel Charles Jr, on Tuesday.

Addressing the opening session of a two-day validation workshop on ‘Accelerating the Adoption of Climate-Smart Agriculture in Jamaica’ at the Spanish Court Hotel, New Kingston, Charles reminded his audience that talks concerning climate change and its induced effects on food security are fundamental to Jamaica’s sustainable development.

“Jamaica, like the rest of the world, is experiencing extreme, severe weather conditions which destroy the crops, thereby negatively impacting employment and food security. Disruptions to sector productivity have significant impacts on our socio-economic development.

“With almost up to 94 per cent of our country’s agriculture being exclusively rain-fed, it makes the sector very climate-sensitive. The over-reliance on rainfall, and the recurrence of droughts experienced annually and seasonally, embeds an inherent vulnerability to climate change. Therefore, we must seek to identify and implement climate-smart technologies/strategies that will mitigate the impacts of climate change,” he charged.

In addition, the World Bank estimates that every year from 2010 t0 2050, between $70 and $100 billion should be spent on adaptation in developing countries, according to Charles.

Private-sector financing

For this reason, there is an increased need for private-sector financing to scale up agricultural practices. By blending climate financing with private agriculture finance, some of these challenges can be addressed, he suggested.

Charles noted that while the agriculture sector does not contribute to Jamaica’s current nationally determined contribution (NDC) mitigation target, the identified actions in the NDC cover agriculture sector initiatives. The draft report, which was up for review/ validation during the workshop, noted that “to place agriculture on the country’s climate agenda requires commitment from the agriculture stakeholders to participate in and implement actions to build the sector and country’s resilience to climate change”.

Charles told his audience that the Government, as the main stakeholder, is committed to this task and seeks the support of the private sector and international climate-financing organisations to support its commitment.

“We remain resolute in identifying and implementing those climate-smart strategies that are best suited for our local challenges, as the sustainability of the sector is inextricably linked to our survival.”