Sat | Dec 4, 2021

Earth Today | Jamaica to integrate climate risk analysis into infrastructure planning

Published:Thursday | March 25, 2021 | 12:08 AM

Jamaica has become the first country in the world to begin the process of developing a predictive climate risk-assessment planning tool for major infrastructure areas under the global private sector-led Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment (CCRI).

The tool, as explained by Professor Jim Hall, director of research in the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford, will enable “local decision-makers to assess climate risk to Jamaica’s infrastructure networks to visualise ‘hotspots’ of high levels of economic and social value at risk, in relevant time horizons”.

The pilot project, called ‘Supporting Investment Decision-Making for Resilient Infrastructure in Jamaica’, targets the energy, water and transport sectors and was launched on March 10 with a virtual workshop that attracted more than 80 participants from a range of public- and private-sector entities.

It was co-created and funded by the UK government through its Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Green Climate Fund.

The University of Oxford, a global leader in the geospatial assessment of climate risks and appraisal of options for improving infrastructure system resilience, is one of the technical delivery partners and will work closely with the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) to ensure the alignment of the scope of work with local and institutional needs.

The project is slated to last 15 months and will include the participation of multilateral development banks, national banks, private sector and other sources of financing.

Jamaica’s involvement is expected to put the island on centre stage at the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26), scheduled for Glasgow in November 2021, where adaptation and resilience will be among the main campaigns of the UK-led COP.

CLIMATE HAZARDS

At the recent launch, Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change Pearnel Charles Jr, stressed that the island’s infrastructure is under serious threat from the impacts of climate hazards, and as such, needs expansion and modernisation of critical infrastructure.

He said further that investments to that end “must go hand in hand with our economic recovery and sustainable development goals,” for while “we can’t prevent disasters from happening, we can avoid the ripple effects of climate change if we act on adaptation and resilience today”.

Deputy British High Commissioner to Jamaica Daniel Shepherd noted the long-standing partnership between Jamaica and the UK in the fight against climate change, and thanked Jamaica for helping to develop and pilot the new methodology, which will hopefully be rolled out across the Caribbean and the world. He also welcomed the participation of the Green Climate Fund in the project and gave a nod to the opportunities for developing nature-based solutions to strengthen resilience.

Dr Wayne Henry, director general at the PIOJ, did not miss the opportunity to remind participants that an integrated disaster risk-management approach is a fundamental principle on which Vision 2030, Jamaica’s national development plan, is built and informs the country’s thrust towards dealing with climate change. He further underscored the key role that the PIOJ plays in contributing to build resilience within the country’s development processes and policies to achieve sustainable goals.

The next phase of the pilot will involve an assessment of NBS, which will assist the Government of Jamaica to develop and enhance new and existing infrastructure that feature natural ecosystems. It will include physical valuation of NBS as alternatives to hard infrastructure, investigation of potential financial savings that can be achieved by such replacement, and development of financial metrics that can be deployed to streamline the solution to both public and private sectors.