Careers & Education

Climate Change Dept taking shape

Sunday, July 29, 2012    

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THE promised Climate Change Department to be established in the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change is expected to have a staff of between 20 and 30 persons, who are to be recruited soon.

This was disclosed by Dr Conrad Douglas, chairman of the Climate Change Advisory Board, which is a multi-sectoral group of experts set up by Government earlier this year.

Among the initial tasks of the new department will be to do an inventory of climate change projects across all sectors in order to maximise resources and avoid duplication.

"Clearly you would want to have the head of the department who will be at the director general level, and certainly you are going to have several departments in place -- one dealing with mitigation [and] one dealing with adaptation, as there are a number of adaptation projects already underway," Douglas Career & Education. "The fact is that we must all ensure we know who is doing what. So one of the first tasks is to do an inventory of all the projects that have been implemented in climate change in the public sector, the private sector and among the NGO communities."

Dr Douglas made the comments shortly after the launch of a two-day National Climate Change Workshop at the Wyndham Hotel in Kingston.

The workshop, held in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), focused on the development of a comprehensive policy framework to assist Jamaica to adapt to the effects of climate change.

Other tasks of the Climate Change Department will include database management, project formulation, proposal writing, and monitoring the implementation of projects.

"There are a lot of resources available internationally to support a number of projects. There are 'green' economy projects, which are primary terrestrial, and 'blue' economy projects concerned mainly with the sea. There are coastal projects, for fisheries, projects to protect coral reefs and so on," Douglas elaborated.

He noted that protection of the environment was critical to preserve Jamaica's economy, which is largely dependent on tourism, to protect important infrastructure much of which is located in coastal areas as well as to achieve food security which can seriously be threatened by extreme weather events.

"It has implications for location of settlements and ground water resources," Douglas said.

The CCAB chairman also said the staff of the Climate Change Department should number 20 to

30 persons.

"We want a very lean and mean department; we are aiming for efficiency," said Douglas, adding that job descriptions were currently being developed.

Speaking at the workshop, Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Robert Pickersgill disclosed that a draft report had been developed on how to establish the Climate Change Department.

"Now you will be taking another critical step on this path by helping us to move towards the development of a national climate change policy framework," he told participants, which included representatives of Government, non-governmental organisations and the private sector.

Also addressing the workshop, Minister of Finance, Planning and the Public Sector Dr Peter Phillips underscored the effects of climate change on the Jamaican economy.

He said data from the Planning Institute of Jamaica suggests that since 2001, Jamaica has lost an average of two per cent of Gross Domestic Product annually in damage associated with hurricanes, floods and droughts.

"The accumulative loss entailed from this damage is estimated at close to J$120 billion. This is money which would otherwise be spent on developmental tasks," he said.

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