JIS News

Story Highlights

  • On January 1, 2013, Jamaica implemented a freeze on the importation of the hydro-chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).
  • In February, the Ministry unveiled an advertising campaign, which seeks to draw national attention to the critical issue of climate change.
  • A modern hyperbaric chamber, to treat decompression illness in divers, was officially commissioned into service at UWI.

The Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, lead by Portfolio Minister, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, continued initiatives to highlight the effects of climate change on the country, and the need to protect the environment.

Freeze on CFCs

To this end, as of January 1, 2013, Jamaica implemented a freeze on the importation of the hydro-chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) at the average import levels of 2009 and 2010 in accordance with the Montreal Protocol.

Climate Change Campaign

In February, the Ministry unveiled an advertising campaign, which seeks to draw national attention to the critical issue of climate change. A number of Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) buses have been emblazoned with slogans such as: ‘Climate Change: We have to Change’, and messages urging persons to protect the environment, including the coastal resources.

The campaign is part of the Government of Jamaica (GOJ)/European Union (EU)/United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Climate Change Adaptation Disaster Risk Reduction Project.

The 30-month project, which got underway in 2012, is being funded primarily by the EU at a cost of €4.5 million. Already, there have been gains under the project, with the Forestry Department replanting 222 hectares of more than 300 hectares of lands in watershed areas targeted for rehabilitation.

Reforestation activities have been carried out in Pencar/Buff Bay; Yallahs; and Hope River watershed areas, in the communities of Oatley, Rose Hill, Bellevue/Old England/Clydesdale, Wallenford, and Silver Hill; and Hyde Hall and Grants Mountain in the Rio Bueno watershed area.

Work will also be done in the Portland Bight, Palisadoes/Port Royal Protected Areas, and the St. Thomas Morass. The Forestry Department has organised several community forestry committees to protect the areas during the restoration period.

Equipment Provided

Also under the project, an automatic weather station and rainfall gauge has been commissioned into service at the Royal Palm Reserve in Sheffield, Negril and the Cave Valley Health Centre in Hanover, respectively, at a cost of approximately $1 million.

They are aimed at assisting Jamaica to adapt to climate change; and to contribute to sustainable development by increasing the resilience of vulnerable areas and reducing the risks that are associated with natural hazards in vulnerable communities.

Also a modern hyperbaric chamber, to treat decompression illness in divers, was officially commissioned into service at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Discovery Bay marine laboratory in St. Ann, on March 13.

The unit is capable of accommodating up to five persons at a time, and was built at a cost of approximately $34 million.  It replaces an outdated 37 year-old facility. The new chamber is the only one of its kind operating in the island, and was installed through collaboration between the UWI and the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).

Meanwhile Mr. Pickersgill welcomed the island’s first Virtual Reference Station Network (VRS), gFIX.net, as a useful tool in mapping natural hazards. The service will support disaster management and mitigation activities. It will also help persons to identify and locate shelters within their communities and identify areas prone to hazards.

Climate Change Policy

The Climate Change Policy Framework and Action was tabled in the Houses of Parliament as a Green Paper on November 5. The Policy and Action Plan calls for the development of climate change sector plans as well as the implementation of special initiatives within key sectors. In addition, all Ministries and Departments will be required to designate a focal point to facilitate the coordination of climate change actions across government.

Climate Change Division

Late 2013 saw the establishment of the Climate Change Division to ensure the efficient coordination of climate change matters within the public sector and also with the Non-governmental Organisations and private sector. It’s being headed by Dr. Conrad Douglas.

Areas of Agreement

In June a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Jamaica and the United States of America that will see greater co-operation between both countries, on matters related to climate change and environmental best practices.

The agreement includes a framework for the development of a Climate Change Policy, on which the government is working. A Low Emission Development Strategy (LEDS) and a National Adaptation Plan (NAP) will also be developed under the agreement.

Legislation

The Ministry in 2013 also made major moves to finalize the draft Town and Country Planning Bill.

The new legislation will allow for the creation of a framework of development plans and development orders, which will enable government to formulate up-to-date policies and plans with respect to land use, physical and spatial planning and development control.

Work on components of the National Spatial Plan (formerly the National Physical Plan) also got underway in 2013. The Ministry was allocated $30 million to revise the old plan in order to ensure the optimal use and management of the nation’s land resources.

Meetings and Signing of Treaty

In July Jamaica hosted the Caribbean Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Kingston. The Caribbean preparatory meeting is one of three regional meetings held in 2013 as groundwork for the SIDS conference in Samoa in 2014 from July 2 to 4.

Jamaica also played host to main meeting of the Latin American and Caribbean Ozone Officers Network in Kingston from October 1 to 4.

Meanwhile, Jamaica was one of 91 countries to sign the historic Minimata Convention on Mercury at the Conference of Plenipotentiaries, which took place in Japan from October 9-11, 2013.

The treaty, seeks to place controls and restrictions on a range of products, processes and industries where mercury is used, released or emitted. The Treaty seeks to phase out by 2020, the production, export and import of mercury-containing products.