Jamaica bands with Norway on climate change awareness
As part of the One Ocean Expedition expected to run until 2023, Jamaica welcomed on Saturday the Norwegian vessel Statsraad Lehmkuhl, one of the world's largest sailing ships, to the historic Naval Dockyard in Port Royal.
The vessel, currently on a circumnavigation of the world with officials, researchers, and students from different parts of the globe, is aiming to create awareness and share knowledge about the positive impact of safe environmental practices, which the protection of the ocean can have on mitigating the adverse impacts of climate change and ensuring sustainability.
It arrived in the island against the backdrop of the enduring COVID-19 pandemic that caused the cruise ship industry to capsize in early 2020. But the sector is on the rebound, with Falmouth hosting a call from the Emerald Princess on Sunday and Port Royal due to receive the Nieuw Statemdam on November 25.
But more important, the visit represents deepened ties between Norway and Jamaica since diplomatic relations were forged more than four decades ago with a focus on the blue economy and ocean health as well as agriculture, shipping, energy, and training.
Those relations centred on environmental concerns have heightened awareness coming at the back end of the COP26 climate summit where scores of world leaders met to seal an agreement that seeks to slow the pace of global warming.
University of the West Indies (Mona) student Shauntelle Green and her University of Bergen Norway counterpart, Jessica Tengvall, who are participants in climate studies, believe that their involvement and research will be beneficial to both countries in the context of a memorandum of understanding, inked on Saturday, formalising a bilateral student exchange.
Green told The Gleaner that the venture was a wonderful opportunity to meet new people with different perspectives on ocean science and its impact on climate change as well as to indulge in studies during the triangular voyage linking Curacao, Cuba, and Jamaica. The voyage started in Norway.
Exchange of skills and knowledge
Just being on the ship laid the platform for an exchange of skills and knowledge, said Green, and offered different solutions to local and global problems, whether from government policy or through individual activism.
“The course is allowing us to understand the impact of climate change on various aspects of the environment and what this means for the human and natural environment,” Green said.
Tengvall, who is studying fisheries, sees a correlation between that discipline and climate change, which she said is a relevant and timely subject.
“The course for me is the fact that I am able to meet students from Jamaica, young students, and young students are our future, so I think it is really cool that we are going to have interaction with them and teach them the different things now that we have gathered this knowledge on this trip and bring to the next generation how to mitigate climate change,” she shared
Tengvall is looking forward to a Naval Dockyard open day with vaccinated students and teachers from local high schools
Leading Norwegian professor at the University of Bergen, Dr Kerim Nisancioglu, who is part of the One Ocean Expedition, said the trip to Jamaica offered a chance for his team to learn from their colleagues and local scientists.
At the same time, the Norwegians are partnering with the global community of scientists to further understand the impact of climate change locally.
“Of course, we have been studying the melting of the ice in the northern hemisphere and how this impacts sea level, which is one of our major research focus areas,” Nisanciouglu told The Gleaner.
The vessel, which is being hosted by the Port Authority of Jamaica, is expected to depart Jamaica on November 17.