Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator Pearnel Charles Jr., says the Government is taking a proactive approach to addressing climate change.
He said that this involves advancing policies, strategies and relevant legislation to build the nation’s resilience.
“What we have to do is put ourselves in a position, knowing that it is not ‘if’ it is just ‘when’, and prepare ourselves,” he noted.
The minister was addressing the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation’s Local Government Adaption to Climate Change Project (LG-ACT) water conference at Sandals South Coast in Whitehouse, Westmoreland, last Thursday (Oct 31).
He said that an effective response to climate change requires partnership at all levels.
He said that everyone will be impacted by the phenomenon regardless of age, gender, intellect or social standing.
“I don’t think any weather system cares what you are wearing. I don’t think it cares what gender you are. It doesn’t care how rich you are, how smart you are, where you live,” Senator Charles Jr. noted.
“We have to understand how critical it is for us as a country to come together. Partnership is important. It is necessary if we are going to be able to take the approach towards solutions, an approach that is going to guide and empower decision-makers, people who manage water resources [and] all stakeholders,” he said.
Meanwhile, Senator Charles Jr., who has responsibility for Water, Housing and Infrastructure, said that at the core of climate change is protecting the country’s water sources.
“It is critical as a country that we understand, moving forward we must focus our attention on putting in place integrated and sustainable practices for water resource management,” he stressed.
The water conference was held in partnership with the European Union (EU), which is funding the LG-ACT project.
The overarching objective of the project is to build local capacity for enhanced water resource governance within the context of climate change.
As part of the initiative, the EU is providing a grant of €$300,000 to the municipality to implement climate change-related activities over 27 months.
First Councillor/Head of Cooperation at the EU, Ricard Bardia Divins, said that the organisation is cognisant “of the vulnerability of Jamaica and other small-island developing states to global warming, [as they are] facing changing weather patterns, rising sea levels and other long-term impacts”.
“The Local Government Adaption to Climate Change Project is crucial. The EU always stands up for the most vulnerable and the most in need. We have a clear vision for our future, and we are sure that a renewed capacity for climate resilience, fresh water and integrated water management will improve the living standards in communities,” Divins said.
He expressed the hope that the conference will foster increased dialogue on water management and climate change.
Mayor of Savanna-la-Mar, Councillor Bertel Moore, for his part, thanked the EU for partnering with the municipality on the undertaking.
He said that climate change “impacts all aspects of our lives” and he is pleased to see the steps that are being taken to address the issue.