Punching above its weight
MINISTER with responsibility for the environment Senator Matthew Samuda says despite the small size of his climate change team, it is punching above its weight by intensifying public sensitisation.
Samuda, who was speaking at this week’s Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange, noted that the Climate Change Division (CCD), which is a part of his ministry, works with other entities to ensure that Jamaicans are more aware of climate change, its threats, and mitigation efforts.
“It doesn’t exist in a bubble; it acts through its Climate Change Advisory Council — through partnerships — and does significant work with the Planning Institute of Jamaica, Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, because that is what it requires. We are the focal point for the climate change discussion on behalf of the Government of Jamaica,” he said.
“How that climate change action is integrated through the Government is managed certainly through Cabinet and various agencies. We have been invited to every town hall meeting that Minister McKenzie [local government minister] has had discussing disaster preparedness — certainly going into the hurricane season — and we have been making the presentations to ensure persons are clearer,” he added.
At the same time, Samuda noted that the CCD also works with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, in terms of farmer and fisherfolk engagements, to highlight several climate change projects.
“The CCD is a very small division that plays a big role above its weight, and persons may assume its much larger. It’s really through re-established mechanisms of government that we engage citizens,” he explained.
Senior technical officer for adaptation at the CCD, Le-Anne Roper pointed out that the ‘Uncut Conversations on Climate Change’ and Jamaica Climate Change Youth Council (JCCYC) are specifically targeted at the public.
“For Uncut Conversations on Climate Change we try to have that usually around the ratification of the Paris Agreement, which gives us an opportunity to share what happened at COP [United Nations Climate Change Conference] and also to speak about what is happening in the climate change space,” she said.
“We also try to engage youth as well, in different ways. We have, for example, engaged with the JCCYC and we also do presentations — we go to schools and share what is happening in climate change,” she added.
According to Roper, the ordinary person needs to understand what is happening, how they can play a role in climate change, and how their community or business can also take action.
Meanwhile, CCD’s Senior Technical Officer, Mitigation, Omar Alcock said a Kids Climate Camp was developed for youth ages seven to 14.
The camp, which started out in St Andrew, saw youth engaging in climate change activities for two weeks over the summer last year.
“For us, that was a way of reaching the next generation. Very recently we also did an exposure and launch as it relates to e-mobility, and we had a private sector engagement that was able to engage persons that were going through summer school to expose them to the upcoming technologies,” he shared.
“These are just some of the ways we have been trying to engage not only our age group but the upcoming age group that climate change will impact,” said Alcock.
The CCD team noted that there are hopes to expand the camp to other parishes.