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Earth Today | Budget officers get climate-change education

Published:Wednesday | July 26, 2017 | 12:00 AMPetre Williams-Raynor
Participants in lively discussion during day one of the workshop on integrating climate change into national and ministerial budgets.

MORE THAN 30 Jamaican budget and planning officers have been given an education in the integration of climate change into national and ministerial budgets.

It was delivered by the Climate Change Division (CCD), with the assistance of the country support hub of the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Global Network, at the penthouse of the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service this past Tuesday and Wednesday.

The goals included enhancing the ability of government to integrate climate change adaptation into the national and ministerial budgets; in addition to increasing understanding among budget officers of Jamaica's NAP; and raising awareness among budget officers of the cross-cutting impacts of climate change adaptation and ensuring their understanding of the implications for the budget process.

How well they succeeded remains to be seen, with an emergent concern that budget officers and planners do not constitute the final decision-makers for what ultimately gets approved for funding in the national budget.


Absence of ministry


This is even as a representative from the Budget Unit of the finance ministry was absent, at least on day one.

Senior technical officer with responsibility for mitigation at the CCD, Omar Alcock, said while he understands the concern, the workshop was the start of a process.

"We want to ensure that persons responsible for planning, policy creation, financing and the budgetary aspect of the various entities keep in mind the fact that climate change is a reality and is affecting every aspect of our being ... . Once persons can understand that, then they will be able to incorporate it into all the activities they have planned for their various entities. In order for them to do that, it has to be budgeted for," he said.

On the absence of a Budget Unit rep from the finance ministry, CCD boss UnaMay Gordon said: "It is really interesting that we are having the meeting at the ministry of finance and we are not seeing the budget unit from the ministry of finance. I think it does not send the correct message.

"But by virtue of us having it here, at the ministry of finance, the activity was signed off in full and has the full support at the level of the financial secretary, at the level of the minister (Fayval Williams), who was here," she added.

Meanwhile, among the participants was a representative from St Vincent and the Grenadines, Janeel Miller Findlay - director of environmental management in the sustainable development unit of the Ministry of Economic Planning, Sustainable Development, Industry, Information, and Labour - who had high praise for the workshop.

"It has been very beneficial," the officer, who was present as part of a peer exchange programme, told The Gleaner.

"Later on this year, we will have the same assembly, where we will invite our ministry of finance and budgeting so that we can discuss climate change and how we can include it in budgeting to build our resilience. I am learning from what you do here in Jamaica to take home," Miller Findlay added.