OCHO RIOS, St Ann — The urgency with which Jamaica needs to address climate change was made evident at last week's Government of Jamaica/Adaptation Fund Programme National Stakeholders' Consultation after it was revealed that at least one metre of Negril's coastline was eroding yearly, making the beaches smaller.
Stakeholders in the project titled, "Enhancing the Resilience of the Agricultural Sectors and Coastal Areas to Protect Livelihoods and Improve Food Security", met at the Cardiff Hall Resort and Spa in Runaway Bay last Wednesday to discuss the progress of the one-year-old programme as well as the way forward.
Sherice Simpson of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), in highlighting the dangers facing the white sandy beaches of Negril, said erosion was rapid with loss estimated at one metre yearly. As a result, she said, the relevant authorities "have to act now".
The first component of the three-component project, through the Adaptation Fund, will be the increasing of climate resilience of the Negril coastline. This component of the project will be undertaken by the NEPA in collaboration with the National Works Agency, which will be constructing submerged breakwater structures. The structures, NEPA reported, are expected to reduce the impact of waves on the coastlines which are becoming more intense due to climate change, as a result of reducing beaches.
The construction of the breakwater structure which will cost approximately US$5.4 million is expected to start in February 2014 and should be completed by June 2015.
The final design of the structure is expected to be presented by the end of December. The NWA team will, however, firstly be building a miniature model of the structure to test efficacy of the design before installation, Simpson told the meeting.
Funding for the entire project is being made possible through the Adaptation Fund which is giving Jamaica a grant funding of US$9,965,000. In 2012, the Government reportedly secured grant funding from the Adaptation Fund to implement concrete adaptation measures aimed at reducing vulnerability and increasing adaptive capacity to respond to the impacts of climate change.
The project through its three components should also enhance the climate resilience of the agricultural sector by improving water and land management as well as improving the institutional and local capacity for sustainable management of natural resources and disaster risk reduction.
Ian Hayles, minister of state in the Ministry of Water Land Environment and Climate Change, said the impact of climate change was no longer an emerging threat but one of the greatest threats to civilisation. "Addressing climate change is a matter of securing our future and that of generations of Jamaicans," he said.
Hayles added that adaptation to climate change could be very expensive and that Jamaica was fortunate to be among the first to benefit from the Adaptation Fund.
"I implore all stakeholders to make the best use of the funds already earmarked for Jamaica from the Adaptation Fund under the UNFCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change)," he stated.
The adaptation project is being implemented by the Planning Institute of Jamaica, which has been accredited as National Implementing Entity by the board of the Adaptation Fund. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, National Works Agency, Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment and the National Environment and Planning Agency are the entities expected to execute work under the programme to be completed by December 2015.
While the project seeks to address the dire effects of climate change facing Jamaica, Claire Bernard of the PIOJ said other projects would be complementing those being undertaken through the Adaptation Fund, especially in Negril. "No one project can fix Jamaica climate change problems," she said.
It was revealed that there were several projects being undertaken in Negril presently to save the shorelines. However, Simpson said NEPA was looking at a guideline for shoreline protection to ensure everyone is protected in the process.