Kingston to benefit from climate change resilience pilot project

KINGSTON'S resilience to climate change is expected to be significantly bolstered with the planned implementation of an urban infrastructure insurance scheme pilot project.

The engagement will be undertaken by the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) in partnership with the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI).

The project will see ICLEI engaging with insurance providers on options available to the Government and citizens, to help safeguard infrastructure and other critical inputs against climate-change impacts.

It will also allow Kingston, which is a member state of the organisation, to benefit from capacity-building, training and financing relating to climate change, in partnership with the German Development Bank.

The ICLEI comprises a global network of more than 2,500 local and regional governments, along with cities and other sub-national jurisdictions that are committed to sustainable urban development.

Kingston's mayor, Senator Councillor Delroy Williams, outlined details of the project during a special sitting of the KSAMC on Monday, March 20, at the Council's chambers in downtown Kingston, which was attended by ICLEI Secretary General Gino Van Begin.

In his remarks, Mayor Williams indicated that the ICLEI team is expected to meet with representatives of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and Caribbean Maritime University (CMU), among other stakeholders.

"We will visit Weise Road in the Nine Miles area [of St Andrew]. There are several houses along the Weise Road that were inundated by river shingles a few years ago. They will visit because a part of their duty, also, is to assess the infrastructure in the city as part of an insurance scheme," he informed.

Senator Williams said that as a coastal city, Kingston remains particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, noting that billions of dollars have been spent to offset the cost for repairs and losses, as a result of natural disasters.

"Between 2001 and 2017, Jamaica experienced 12 storm events, seven of which were major hurricanes, and [extensive] flooding; between 2000 and 2010, we had 35 [incidents of] flooding. These events resulted in losses and damage amounting to approximately $132.54 billion," he shared.

The mayor further noted that approximately 82 per cent of Jamaicans live along the coast or within five kilometres of the sea.

"Critical infrastructure, such as board facilities, tourism centres and airports are also located in the coastal zones. We are seeing the [climate change] impact on the economic life of the country, and so, we understand the importance of reducing our vulnerability and increasing our capacity to respond," Senator Williams said.

For his part, Begin said the ICLEI has developed various methodologies "that can help to assess the risks of your jurisdictions to see what opportunities or options you may have to tackle these".

He maintained that national governments must act urgently to commit and implement the international treaty, the Paris Agreement.

This, the secretary general said, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has reported that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere "is higher than it's ever been in the last two million years".

"The IPCC is also explicit that the unprecedented rate of global warming is induced by human activity and that at the global surface, temperatures will continue to increase until at least 2050," Begin said.

The ICLEI organisation is currently engaged with 2,500 cities and other sub-national jurisdictions.

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