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British High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency Asif Ahmad, is encouraging developers of housing and other infrastructure in the Caribbean to “build with nature in mind”.

“Planners, builders and users of property need to understand more fully the environment that is built and the human beings that have to live and thrive within those communities,” he said.

“It begins with the fundamentals – understanding and re-understanding the topography of our land and our marine environment, how the elements interact with it, be it air, water or the earth, and we have to build with nature, not against [it],” Mr. Ahmad encouraged.

He was addressing the opening ceremony of the University of the West Indies, Mona – Western Jamaica Campus’ inaugural Caribbean Sustainable Cities Conference at Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, St. James, on Wednesday (November 4).

Mr. Ahmad pointed to the need for the updating of building regulations in the Caribbean and the materials used.

“The kinds of buildings needed are very, very different and not only do the regulations need to be updated they also need to be enforced.”

He is also imploring developers to ensure that building plans include rainwater harvesting facilities.

“Rainwater collection has to be built into it right from day one, not as an afterthought, not as an ugly add-on, but intrinsically, a part of our building’s design. We are not always going to be fortunate with rain at the right times as climate change has shown us,” Mr. Ahmad pointed out.

Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Leeroy Williams, in his remarks, said that the staging of the conference will assist the country’s thrust in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 11, which is aimed at making cities and communities inclusive, safe and sustainable.

He said that the St. James Municipal Corporation is committed to the transformation of Montego Bay and, by extension, the wider parish of St. James.

“As we continue to work with our stakeholders in enhancing the economic viability of Montego Bay and improve the quality of life of our residents, our five priority areas of focus are urban planning, disaster management, waste management, safety and education,” Councillor Williams noted.

The three-day conference, under the theme ‘Go Green. Go Safe. Go Smart’, targets planners, environmentalists among other stakeholders interested in realising peaceful, inclusive, and sustainable cities, especially in small island developing states like the Caribbean.

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