Petre Williams-Raynor, Contributing Editor
THE NATIONAL Climate Change Advisory Committee - comprised of some of Jamaica's most brilliant minds - is currently being restructured to streamline its operations and safeguard its efficiency.
Chairman Dr Conrad Douglas, an environmental management consultant, told The Gleaner last week Thursday that the restructuring was being undertaken with the help of the United States Agency for International Development, under a memorandum of understanding signed earlier this year.
As part of the restructuring, three subcommittees are to be set up, each of them with prescribed duties entailed in various of terms of reference, which are currently being worked on by a consultant.
"The general committee of the advisory body is to have an executive committee which will have an oversight function for the Climate Change Division, and will meet with them on a monthly basis," Douglas revealed.
Following years of promises from both the People's National Party and the Jamaica Labour Party administrations, the Climate Change Division recently became a reality.
This, with the appointment of a principal director and two technical officers - one of them with responsibility for climate change mitigation, and the other for climate change adaptation.
"There will also be a technical committee and a project and finance committee. Throughout the course [of things], we will have ad hoc committees established to deal with specific issues and tasks," Douglas added.
"The general committee, which used to meet monthly, will now meet quarterly [while] all the others will meet monthly or every two months," he said further.
A secretariat is also to be established, Douglas said, to "service and support" the Climate Change Advisory Committee.
Tasked with helping to steer Jamaica to a secure climate future, the committee's specific duties include:
Monitoring all matters to do with climate change development throughout the world;
Advising the minister of land, water, environment, and climate change/Government of Jamaica on the strategic direction and actions to be taken to engage in activities to mitigate and adapt to climate change;
Providing basic advice and direction in the development of plans, programmes, and projects to inform the island's planning and response to climate change.
Jamaica, as a small-island developing state, is considered among those most vulnerable to climate change, which has been credited for the warming of the atmosphere and ocean as well as for predicted increases in the frequency and/or magnitude of extreme weather events such as hurricanes and droughts.
The advisory committee, meanwhile, currently has some 25 members from the public and private sectors as well as from civil society.
Counted among their numbers is physicist and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Professor Anthony Chen; head of the Climate Studies Group Mona, Dr Michael Taylor, himself a physicist; and head of the Mona GeoInformatics Institute, Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee.
Membership also extends to Jeffery Spooner, head of the Meteorological Service and one of Jamaica's senior climate negotiators; Peter Knight, chief executive officer for the National Environment and Planning Agency; and Basil Fernandez, who heads the Water Resources Authority.