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Jamaica to Benefit from UN Climate Population Project

Published:Saturday | October 24, 2015 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin

An in-depth look at the population's resistance to climate change, in addition to an analysis on vulnerable groups in the country, are among several issues that will be integral in the new Population Dynamics and Climate Change Resilience project, to be undertaken by the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA).

Daniel Schensul and Sainan Zhang, who are both technical specialists at the UNFPA headquarters in New York, told The Gleaner in an interview on Friday, that there needs to be more robust research that focuses on people, in order to adapt effectively to the impact of climate change.


massive changes


"The people are very critical in the fight to mitigate against the impacts of climate change and this project will zoom in on just that. The aim is to have comprehensive data with the use of new technology that enables us to know a lot more about the population at every level, understanding what factors make them more vulnerable or more resilient to massive changes to the climate change," Schensul said at the UNFPA offices in New Kingston.

"This will definitely be an asset for policymakers, as the plan is to cover the whole country at the community level. We will be looking at what kind of houses people live in, where they live, specifically down to their neighbourhood, their education, occupation, access to services and every other information that will be essential as to how well people are able to adapt to climate change," he continued.

"This new technology will pull all of that information together, because if you don't know that it is happening you can't do anything about it."


strong linkage


"We see a lot of projects and data looking at the environmental side, which means there are a lot of infrastructural programmes such as the building of sea walls and initiatives to protect the economy, but, at the end of the day when flood comes, people's lives will still be at risk."

Similarly, Sandra Paredez, a census technical adviser based in Jamaica, who noted that the group has collaborated with the Planning Institute of Jamaica, said there was a strong linkage between population dynamics and climate change, resilience.

"We see more and more that there are strong linkages between population dynamics and climate change, and so I believe that this project will fill gaps that exist, especially how we treat with the allocation of resources," she said.

"We will be using the 2011 census data and exploring the use of the 2001 data to see how best we can explore issues such as the elderly population, age structures and the different vulnerable groups in order to fully analyse the different dimensions of vulnerabilities that exist," she said.

"I believe we are filling a gap, because people are in a position to influence and they are also the ones being impacted, so all plans have to be centred on them. While we want to save forests and address water issues, it is because it affects people's lives and that is what the UN tries to focus on - who gets affected, where they are located and what makes them vulnerable to these environmental factors due to climate change."