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Partnerships critical for addressing climate change in Jamaica – Van Steen – Jamaica Gleaner

The European Union (EU) Delegation to Jamaica says it is committed to working with all stakeholders to address the climate change crisis, and to support measures that will mitigate the impact of global warming on the country.

This as it says, now more than ever, partnerships, in tandem with public education and action, are needed to fight climate change in Jamaica.

To mark World Environment Day, June 5, the EU hosted a panel discussion, titled ‘Towards a Culture of Climate Resilience for Sustainable Development’, and launched its new video jingle, Engage to Fight Climate Change. These form part of the EU’s efforts to build awareness about the threat climate change poses to lives and livelihoods.

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 identify some of the gaps in those efforts, and what members of the public can do to slow global warming and improve Jamaica’s resilience to climate change.

The participants included Marianne Van Steen, EU ambassador to Jamaica; Gillian Guthrie, chief technical director in 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 UWI, Mona campus; Dr Theresa Rodriguez-Moodie, CEO of the Jamaica Environment Trust; and Denton Alveranga, member of Morant & Croft’s Hill Farmers Group Project.

Van Steen explained that the EU in Jamaica has ongoing projects worth around US$25 million that support several initiatives aimed at fighting climate change, as this issue is a major priority for the EU, as well as its member states. They include the EU’s support to the Forestry Department for improved forest management.

The EU ambassador 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,” she said.

PRIORITY FOCUS

The chief technical director in the MEGJC said 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,” she said.

Guthrie’s statement refers to Jamaica’s status as a member of the group of small island developing states (SIDS), which means the island is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. These impacts include rising sea levels, increased ambient temperature, ocean warming, and extreme weather events.

The Government has demonstrated its commitment to address climate change issues in 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, among other activities.

Van Steen noted that it is important for islands like Jamaica to be prepared for what may come with rising temperatures. The EU has, therefore, expressed its commitment to continue its support of the island to implement measures that will lessen the impact of global warming.

This 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, increasing resilience to climate change, and reducing poverty by protecting livelihoods.

“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,” the EU diplomat urged.

Among the recommendations that panellists made to address the problem at the personal level are for people to become better informed about the impact of climate change and to spread the word. They also suggested greater use of renewable technology, including solar, wind and water; avoiding slash-and-burn technique in farming; switching to more energy-efficient lamps; and also to choose hybrid vehicles over gasolene-powered ones.

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.

editorial@gleanerjm.com

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