Jamaica Cabinet to Receive Climate Change Policy; Ministry setting up Climate Change Department

Dear Editor,

Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert

Pickersgill, says a climate change policy will be taken to Cabinet by next week

for consideration. The Minister also stated that the Jamaica Government is in the process of putting in place the core staff for the Climate Change Department within his Ministry.


Jamaica is working closely with China. Dr. HuiKang from China noted that Jamaica has been playing a very important role in international climate change negotiations and that the Chinese Government is willing to assist the country in its efforts.

As a Small Island Developing State (SID), whose economy is heavily dependent on foreign exchange earnings from tourism, Jamaica is among those countries deemed most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Sint Maarten, our country also falls within this area as well with similar vulnerabilities.

Minister Pickersgill noted that the Jamaica ecosystem is important and the receding shorelines present stark evidence that climate change is "with us and not about to go away".

Recently the Jamaica Prime Minister met with Chinese officials on a working visit to the Far East and among the topics discussed was the development challenges of climate change and global warming and, in particular, those challenges faced by SIDS in implementing necessary climate adaptation mechanisms and recovering from the significant damage caused by natural disasters.

This same discussion needs to take place within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The four Kingdom partners should address the issue of climate change and plan ahead. I am sure Holland can share their views and adaptation measures they are undertaking to protect the Dutch homeland from climate change.

The climate change issue is an area that the Caribbean partners of the Kingdom can bring to the table with Holland for extensive deliberation, and also keep the level of discussion open at this level since there has been a lot taking place at the international stage which will be of particular interests to country Sint Maarten.

65 participants recently received certificates at a graduation ceremony at the concluded Climate Change Action Training (CCAT) Programme. The training was organized by Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change (Ja REEACH) project, for young people ages 14 to 28.

The CCAT is designed to assist in developing a cadre of informed, skilled and dedicated climate change action agents at the community level, to provide immediate and on-going climate change leadership.

Minister Pickersgill says public education on the effects of climate change remains a priority for his Ministry, stressing the importance of public education in enlightening persons on the dangers climate change poses for Small Island developing states, like


He cited projections for Caribbean countries to experience more frequent and intense hurricanes, extreme rainfall, and longer periods of drought, resulting from climatic variations. One must not forget diseases and dengue is one of them. Climate change issues are much closer to Sint Maarten than we think. Extreme rainfall events can cause disease outbreaks and epidemics.

The Jamaica Minister states that climate change is the "most pressing" long-term challenge facing many nations, adding that the focus in Jamaica is being placed on adaptation with mitigation strategies as a "supporting mechanism."

"Climate proofing (in) all sectors, through policy development, budgetary allocations, and development planning, is therefore no longer an option for us. Jamaica will not be spared the impacts of climate change, and so adaptation is not a choice, it is imperative, given our past experience as well as empirical evidence," the Jamaica Minister emphasized.

Jamaica Minister Pickersgill says: "but we have to act now. In other words, while we are adapting, we also should be mitigating against climate change and its impacts."

Where are we when it comes to the climate change discussion?

Roddy Heyliger