Earth Today | ‘Well done’

Earth Today | ‘Well done’

STAKEHOLDERS FROM the environment sector have welcomed news that Jamaica is to integrate climate resilience as part of the national budgetting process, following the devastation caused by Hurricane Beryl – the latest in extreme weather events to hit the Caribbean.

Among them is respected scientist, Professor Michael Taylor.

“For a long time there has been a call to mainstream climate-change into planning. This would be one way of doing so. Factoring climate-change in the annual budget would be an important, tangible indication of the extent to which the issue is considered a serious one,” noted Taylor, a physicist and dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology at The University of the West Indies, Mona.

“It would therefore be an additional important tool in resilience building to complement and even drive other resilience initiatives,” he added.

Jamaica and other Caribbean small island developing states are among the most vulnerable to climate-change impacts, which include not only extreme hurricane events, such as Beryl, but also sea level rise and increasing global temperatures – all of which present public health challenges, as well as risks to food and water security, lives and livelihoods.

The announcement, meanwhile, was made by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, speaking at the official launch of the National Commercial Banks’s Building a Better Jamaica Foundation, hosted at Jamaica House in St Andrew.

Among other things, the prime minister explained that mainstreaming climate resilience in this way would help to guard against the requirement to borrow in the wake of disasters.

“What happened before was that every climate event pushed us into more borrowing, so a part of our debt trap was as a result of having to borrow to recover from climate events … We are trying to avoid going down that trajectory,” he said.

Private sector big wig Eleanor Jones has herself lauded the announced move.

“I am very pleased that the prime minister as head of government and head of the National Disaster Risk Management Council has accepted the need for disaster risk financing, putting mainstream considerations for climate-change in the budget. Disaster risk financing is an important part of recovery planning and in the Model Regional Recovery Planning Framework, it is one of the critical areas – to provide financing long before a disaster occurs,” she said.

“And so Jamaica’s attention to financing to deal with the effects of a disaster is commendable and portends well for the future of the country. I say that because climate-triggered events are here to stay and it is not a question of if, but when and how badly we will be affected. So we need to make provisions,” she added.

Jones, a member of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, and who has participated at the global climate-change talks as part of the Jamaica delegation, has also noted her encouragement to also move beyond a consideration of the budget.

“All aspects of the government must take onboard considerations of disaster-risk management and early recovery planning. Early recovery planning is very important for the sustainable development of the country,” explained Jones, who is also the head of Environmental Solutions Limited.

“Pre-disaster planning entails examination of the risk, reducing vulnerability, reducing the chances of loss, engaging in government continuity planning, business continuity planning and really looking forward to the potential impact long before a disaster occurs. If we take this onboard, it will be game-changing,” she added.

Development communications professional Indi Mclymont Lafayette has also endorsed the move to integrate resilience into the budgetting process.

“It is a move in the right direction. It sends a message to all Jamaicans to make climate-change planning and budgetting for its impacts a priority,” she said.

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