Discussions are under way with various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) regarding the development of stronger policies that will demonstrate the country’s commitment to the environment, including the integration of green spaces in urban areas.
Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., made the disclosure during a press conference on Wednesday (November 24) on the recently held COP26 United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
He was responding to a question regarding the revision of the country’s building codes and the introduction of mandatory green spaces.
The Post COP26 virtual media event, titled ‘Unpacking COP26: Post-Glasgow and Beyond’, outlined the outcomes of the conference and implications for Jamaica.
“We have started the process of engaging other ministries, departments and relevant agencies to see how we can develop the strongest ecosystem of policies that will reflect Jamaica’s respect of the environment, and the importance of having green spaces… integrated into our most urban spaces,” he said.
Minister Charles noted that the integration of green spaces is critical, as they create and maintain healthy and sustainable urban environments.
“We are currently advancing evaluation… of all of the elements related to development to ensure that climate resilience is integrated in everything we do, how we think and how we operate.
“And so, the introduction of green spaces should be mandatory, in my view, if we are to truly reflect the urgency of action needed for us to adjust how we are planning and how we are developing our space,” he said.
Minister Charles Jr. said that urban renewal advancement and proposals that are being developed in the Ministry will, among other things “be advancing a sort of integrated approach where our developments will have… urban forestry or green safe spaces even where you have the most congested spaces, and that is to balance out the carbon that is emitted”.
Urban green spaces, such as parks, playgrounds, and residential greenery, can promote mental and physical health, and reduce morbidity and mortality among urban residents by providing psychological relaxation and stress alleviation, stimulating social cohesion, supporting physical activity, and reducing exposure to air pollutants, noise, and excessive heat.