European Union Ambassador Marianne Van Steen.
Now more than ever, joint partnerships with education and public action are needed to fight climate change in Jamaica, according to the European Union (EU) Delegation to the island.
The European Union said it was committed to working with all stakeholders to address the climate change crisis, and to supporting measures that would reduce the impact of global warming on the country.
To mark World Environment Day, 5 June 2022, the EU hosted a panel discussion entitled “Towards a Culture of Climate Resilience for Sustainable Development” and launched its new video jingle “Engage to Fight Climate Change.” This is part of its 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 agricultural community. It explores the impacts of climate change and what is being done in Jamaica to reduce impacts, as well as some of the gaps and what members of the public can do to slow global warming and increase Jamaica’s resilience to climate change.
Participants included Marianne Van Steen, EU Ambassador to Jamaica; Gillian Guthrie, Chief Technical Director at the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation (MEGJC); Professor Dale Webber, Chair of the Jamaica Climate Change Advisory Council; Professor Tannecia Stephenson, Head of the Physics Department of The UWI Faculty of Science and Technology, Mona Campus; Dr Theresa Rodriguez-Moodie, CEO of the Jamaica Environment Trust; and Denton Alveranga, Project Member of the Morant & Croft Hill Farmers Group.
Ambassador 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 in Jamaica, as this issue is a top priority for the EU, as well as in its member states. . They include EU support to the Ministry of Forestry for – better forest management.
Ambassador Van Steen acknowledged the role Prime Minister Andrew Holness played in the global fight against climate change and said the EU was pleased that Jamaica was a partner in this effort to protect the environment.
“We all know that pollution doesn’t stop at borders, and we know that if we are to fight climate change, we have to do it together. So, the EU found a very important ally in Jamaica at the multilateral level…. we see Jamaica as a partner in this.”
Chief Technical Director, MEGJC Gillian Guthrie said climate change and sustainable development are closely intertwined and are therefore given priority focus.
“For the Government of Jamaica, climate issues and agenda are priority number one. We believe that this particular issue is the basis of economic growth, development and social welfare. If we don’t get the climate change agenda right, then the economy will be negatively impacted and so will the quality of life for all Jamaicans. So, this is the government’s priority.”
Guthrie’s statement referred to Jamaica’s status as a member of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) group, which makes the island highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. These include rising sea levels, rising environmental temperatures, warming oceans, and extreme weather events.
Because of this vulnerability, the government has taken major steps to mitigate this problem, such as signing the Paris Agreement (a legally binding international treaty on climate change), setting targets for forestry, developing a climate finance strategy, and presenting it nationally. Named Contributions outlining its commitments to reduce emissions and combat climate change, among other activities.
Ambassador Van Steen noted that it was important for islands like Jamaica to be prepared for what might come with rising temperatures. Therefore, the EU is committed to continuing its support for the island to implement measures that will reduce the impact of global warming.
This assistance includes a new collaborative program that begins in 2021 and will run through 2027, which will continue to focus on sustainable natural resource management, increasing resilience to climate change and reducing poverty by protecting livelihoods.
While these programs and initiatives are important, Ambassador Van Steen noted that to combat climate change effectively, there must be coordinated movement at the global, national and individual levels.
“We have to unite our forces. We have to think about what we buy, what we eat, how we live. We have to work together: everyone, the private sector and the government.”
Among the recommendations the panelists made to address the issue on a personal level was for people to become more informed about the impacts of climate change and spread the word. They also suggest greater use of renewable technologies, including solar, wind and water, avoiding slash-and-burn techniques in agriculture, switching to more energy-efficient lighting and also to hybrid vehicles instead of gasoline-powered vehicles.
World Environment Day 2022, commemorated with the theme “Only One Earth”- which highlights the need for human transformational choices and policies that enable humans to live sustainably with nature.