Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., says the Government is continuing to design and advance policies, laws and programmes aimed at building the country’s resilience to climate change.
This, he said, is in keeping with Goal four of the National Development Plan – Vision 2030 Jamaica, which demands that the country move towards targets of a healthy environment, with outcomes including sustainable management of natural resources, hazard risk reduction, climate change adaptation as well as sustainable urban and rural development.
“These are not just catch phrases, these are elements that are critical if we are going to achieve safe, legal, affordable housing solutions, and if we are going to achieve economic prosperity,” Mr. Charles Jr. said, while addressing the opening of a two-day virtual Climate Change, Sustainability and Innovation Water Summit, hosted by the Jamaica National (JN) Foundation, on Thursday (May 13).
The Minister stressed that while the aim is to provide affordable housing solutions, particularly for the most vulnerable, “it must still be comfortable, and it must still be exemplary in its resilience”.
“We have to look towards low-cost designs that consider renewable energy strategies, consider water and energy resources, water conservation and protection techniques, recycling, rainwater harvesting, and the use of recycled materials should also be possible and introducing natural light and ventilation into our new structures as we move forward,” he said
Mr. Charles Jr. noted that forming strategic partnerships within Government and with private-sector entities such as the JN Foundation, where technical support is offered on sustainable building techniques, is critical in spreading the message “that there is a better way to build; there is a better way to plan”.
“ [Through] partnerships between the public and the private sector, and inside Government, we are working to make sure that we focus on achieving our ambitious target of 70,000 housing solutions… not just building them [but] building them with resiliency in mind,” he said.
The Water Summit, which concludes on Friday (May 14), is being held under the theme ‘Water is Life’, and is exploring matters related to water availability and housing, water and policy, water as a commodity, urban development, water security, and food security and the Caribbean.
It is showcasing entrepreneurship in climate resilience, supporting the uptake of water efficiency measures in the Jamaican housing sector, and seeking to obtain commitment from the Government to maintain focus and action water conservation strategies.
The summit is being staged with overall guidance and funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).