THE European Union (EU) delegation to Jamaica has underscored its commitment to continue helping the island to implement measures that will lessen the possibly devastating impact of climate change.
Addressing a panel discussion to mark World Environment Day on Sunday, EU Ambassador to Jamaica Marianne Van Steen noted that it was important for islands like Jamaica to be prepared for what may come with rising temperatures.
Van Steen explained that the EU has projects ongoing in Jamaica that are worth around US$25 million to support several initiatives aimed at fighting climate change as this issue is a major priority for the EU member states.
The projects include the EU’s support to the Forestry Department for improved forest management.
Van Steen also acknowledged the role that Prime Minister Andrew Holness is playing in the global fight against climate change and said the EU was happy that Jamaica is a partner in this effort to protect the environment.
“We all know that pollution doesn’t stop at the borders, and we know that if we want to fight climate change we must do it together. So the European Union finds a very important ally in Jamaica at the multilateral level…we see Jamaica as a partner in this,” said Van Steen.
According to Van Steen, the EU’s assistance includes the latest cooperation programme that began in 2021 and will go on until 2027, which will continue the focus on the sustainable management of natural resources, increase resilience to climate change, and reduce poverty by protecting livelihoods.
She said, while these programmes and initiatives are important to effectively fight climate change, there has to be a coordinated movement at the global, national, and individual level.
“We have to unite forces. We have to think about what we buy, what we eat, how we live. We have to work together: every single person, the private sector, and the Government,” added Van Steen.
The panel discussion was titled ‘Towards a Culture of Climate Resilience for Sustainable Development’ and included the launch of the EU’s new video jingle Engage to Fight Climate Change.
The panel featured members of the public sector, academia, civil society, and the farming community.
It explored the impact of climate change and what is being done in Jamaica to mitigate the impact as well as some of the gaps and what members of the public can do to slow global warming and improve Jamaica’s resilience to climate change.
The participants included Gillian Guthrie, chief technical director at the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation (MEGJC); Professor Dale Webber, chairman of the Climate Change Advisory Board of Jamaica; Professor Tannecia Stephenson, head of the Department of Physics in the Faculty of Science and Technology at The University of the West Indies, Mona campus; Dr Theresa Rodriguez-Moodie, CEO of Jamaica Environment Trust; and Denton Alveranga, member of the Morant and Croft’s Hill Farmers Group Project.
Guthrie told the discussion that climate change and sustainable development are intricately linked and, as such, it is being given priority focus.
“For the Government of Jamaica, the climate issue and agenda is priority number one. We believe that this particular issue is the foundation of economic growth, development, and social well-being. If we don’t get the climate change agenda right, then the economy will be impacted negatively and so will the quality of life that all Jamaicans will experience. So this is something that the Government has prioritised,” declared Guthrie.
Her statement referred to Jamaica’s status as a member of the group of small island developing states (SIDS), which leaves the island highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
These include rising sea levels, increased ambient temperature, ocean warming, and extreme weather events.
Because of this vulnerability, the Government has made major moves towards mitigating these issues, such as signing on to the Paris Agreement (a legally binding international treaty on climate change); creating targets for forestry; developing a climate financing strategy; and presenting its Nationally Determined Contribution outlining its commitment to reduce emissions and fight climate change, amongst other activities.
Last week, Cabinet member and minister with responsibility for the environment, Matthew Samuda travelled to Stockholm, Sweden, to represent Jamaica at two environmental meetings.
The meetings included the High-level Segment of the Basel, Stockholm, and Rotterdam Conventions, and the Stockholm + 50 International Meeting.
Samuda contributed to the conversation while reflecting on the urgent need for actions to achieve a healthy planet and prosperity for all.
“This Stockholm + 50 International Meeting being convened under the theme ‘Stockholm+50: A Healthy Planet for the Prosperity of All – Our Responsibility, Our Opportunity’ is yet another chance for the global community to collectively take stock while proactively charting the way forward in these unprecedented times,” said Samuda.
According to Samuda, Jamaica stands ready to access funds to adapt and build climate resilience.
“Small island developing states, such as Jamaica, are indeed readying themselves to accept financing; the key is how readily it will be available to us,” declared Samuda.
World Environment Day 2022 was celebrated under the theme “Only One Earth”, highlighting the need for transformational human choices and policies that will enable humans to live sustainably with nature.