Jamaica to Benefit from Four-Year Climate Change Project
Jamaica is among three Caribbean islands to benefit from a four-year initiative that will help the country prioritise and invest in ecosystems that specifically reduce its risk of disasters related to climate change.
The Dominican Republic and Grenada are the other two islands to benefit from the Resilient Islands by Design Project, which runs from 2017 to 2021.
The objective of the project is to combine cutting-edge conservation science with the world’s leading expertise in disaster response to develop tools and test solutions that use nature to ensure protection of coastal communities in the Caribbean islands.
These include the use of coral reef and mangroves, which can reduce wave energy and reduce wave height.
Funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, the project is being led by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Addressing the launch at The Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on April 12, Minister without Portfolio in the Economic Growth and Job Creation Ministry, Hon. Daryl Vaz, expressed pleasure at the approach the project is taking to ensure the protection of coastal communities.
“I believe this hands-on approach is best, as it will help the targeted communities to think, plan and act to ensure their resilience and to position themselves to seize opportunities to integrate climate change considerations into their communities, businesses and lives in a transformative way,” he said.
Mr. Vaz added that this has to be the desired approach, “particularly as the underlying forces that are driving climate change are rooted in the physics that govern our planet, and we cannot ignore these anymore”.
He urged Jamaicans and other people around the world to begin planning and thinking in concrete ways to integrate climate considerations in “all relevant plans and projects to deal with the rising temperatures and seas, deadlier disasters and changing economic circumstances” that now exist.
“Building climate resilience is urgent, particularly as Jamaica and countries in the Caribbean are becoming increasingly urbanised. Where to build and how to build and the role the ecosystem services can play in order to develop and prosper within the new climate change reality (are) to be major considerations in the planning process,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Helmut Domas, said the Resilient Islands by Design Project is among a list of projects being funded by his government to benefit Caribbean countries.
“The International Climate Initiative funding made available by the people and the Government of Germany for climate protection and resilience has directed the Caribbean region as a priority target, as we recognise that the Caribbean islands are the most vulnerable when it comes to the destructive influences of adverse climate phenomena,” he said.
These, he noted, include unseasonal heavy rains, drought conditions and category five hurricanes.
Director General of the Jamaica Red Cross Society, Yvonne Clarke, said the project falls very much in line with what her agency has been doing across Jamaica and “fits beautifully into the (agency’s) strategy”.
For her part, Deputy Director of the Caribbean Division of the TNC, Marcie Eggers, urged a proactive approach in finding natural solutions to address climate change risks.
She noted that the introduction of the project is timely, especially in light of 2017’s active category-five hurricanes, Irma and Maria, which resulted in US$150 billion worth of economic losses.