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Gov't to boost planning for climate change

Published:Friday | April 25, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Albert Daley
Clifford Mahlung

THIRTY REPRESENTATIVES from Jamaican ministries and agencies are, within weeks, expected to undergo training in climate change risk assessment and planning.

The training forms part of the Government's efforts to bolster the island's readiness for climate-change impacts, including sea-level and sea-surface temperature increases, warmer temperatures and extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods and droughts.

Some 27 of the 30 - nine of them women - are the designated focal points for climate change, according to Albert Daley, principal director in the Climate Change Division (CCD) of the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change.

"We have met with them [the 27 focal points] as a group, and we have shared with them the vision as to how they can participate in the process to facilitate the climate-proofing of the ministries and agencies so that we are not caught unaware," Daley told The Gleaner.

"We have in train now plans to train these persons to develop their capacity so that they are more sensitive to climate needs and are better equipped to assess their own ministry plans and policies so that they don't need outsiders to revise and tell them what they are doing," he added.

The training is planned for around the end of May and will be carried out by representatives of the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5Cs), which coordinates the region's response to climate change.

"We have been working in collaboration with the 5Cs, and they have provided some initial training for a small group of persons from Jamaica. They will come [back] to Jamaica and undertake this training [in May]," Daley noted.

The training is to run over four to five days and will be bankrolled by the 5Cs, through funding support from the Department for International Development and the Government of Jamaica.

More work needed

According to Daley, it is indicative of things to come.

"There will be a need for other initiatives to strengthen the capacity of other persons," he said.

To make that happen, the CCD boss said they will seek to tap into new and additional sources of funding.

"We have in place [for example] a memorandum of understanding with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and discussions are in train. We are hoping that through USAID and others of our development partners, we can raise the needed capital," he said.

For the time being, Daley said included in the numbers for training are those who will be tasked to train others in the areas to which they are exposed.

At the same time, the CCD two months ago had some discussions with parliamentarians.

"We hope to repeat that over time, so we have all our elected representatives fully aware," he said.

Revision of the climate change policy framework is also under way, following a series of public consultations. Once finalised and given the parliamentary stamp of approval, it is to fuel the island's response climate change.

Head of the Climate Branch of the Meteorological Service Clifford Mahlung, himself the focal point for climate change in that office, had high praises for the island's efforts to date.

"The network of the focal points [for example] is a good thing. It will provide the inter-ministerial agencies and departments the focus that is required - and that is mandated by the Climate Change Division - to coordinate and facilitate all aspects of responding to climate change nationally," he said.

"It brings together all the key agencies that will be required to include climate change considerations into their planning and work. This is important because climate change impacts are cross-cutting, affecting various sectors and there is a need to have this coordinated body that will ensure there are no replications or duplications and the most efficient use of very limited resources," added Mahlung, who is also Jamaica's senior climate negotiator.