Charles Jr highlights the role of data in climate change response
Minister in charge of the climatechange portfolio, Pearnel CharlesJr, at Monday's ministerialmeeting on defining andmeasuring systemic resiliene atCOP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.

JAMAICA'S Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change Pearnel Charles Jr has underscored the importance of data in responding to climate change, and hailed the value of the predictive climate risk assessment planning tool being piloted in the country.

The tool, called the Systemic Risk Assessment Tool (SRAT), is being developed by the global private-sector led Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment (CCRI), and is designed to enable local decision-makers to assess climate risk to Jamaica's major infrastructure networks and to visualise hot spots of economic and social value at risk.

Speaking at a ministerial meeting on defining and measuring systemic resilience, hosted by the governments of Jamaica and the UK, and with senior representatives from private and international financial institutions in Glasgow, Scotland, this week, Minister Charles said the predictive tool is necessary to identify actual data that is required to make planning decisions and execute actions that will bolster the country's resilience to climate shocks.

“The reality is that when you speak of extreme vulnerability, it is not just a statistic for us. When we speak about the issues of the impact of these weather events on our infrastructure, you are talking about not just roads being devastated, but the consequences. [For example], our children not being able to go to school. It is impacting productivity; it is impacting access to learning. When the [electricity] poles come down, there is no electricity and so it impacts hospitals and hampers our ability to be able to recover from minor issues,” said Charles Jr.

The minister said Jamaica had to contend with the argument that it was one of the most climate-vulnerable countries and perhaps should not have been at the table of what was then called pricing risk.

“[But] we see it not as a threat, but an opportunity, because in defining those risks and in applying the prices of those risks we become able to define the better solutions, and so not only will we become better prepared but we will also be more attractive to investment and to investors, who can see the parameters within which they will be able to work in our country,” he noted.

Charles Jr said Jamaica is honoured to have the opportunity to serve as the launching pad for the SRAT and that the country looks forward to designing programmes that can be translated to other spheres and other countries with similar impacts.

“We are doing the dirty work,” he said. “We are undertaking the granular dissection of how we are going to develop the framework that will create opportunities for countries like Jamaica to be able to identify what is necessary for us to truly become resilient. It is important for us as pioneers to reflect on our responsibility to make sure that this becomes not just a discussion, but an achievement for us,” the minister said.

Jamaica became the first country in the world to begin the process of developing a predictive climate risk assessment planning tool under the CCRI.

The pilot project, called 'Supporting Investment Decision-Making for Resilient Infrastructure in Jamaica', targets the energy, water and transport sectors and was launched on March 10 with a virtual workshop that attracted more than 80 participants from a range of public and private sector entities.

The CCRI was conceptualised by Willis Towers Watson, the World Economic Forum, the Global Commission on Adaptation and the Government of the United Kingdom, and is supported by dozens of leading institutions including the University of Oxford and the Green Climate Fund.

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