JIS News

Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang, has said that the Government is serious about implementing measures to address climate change and to stave off the potentially harmful environmental, social, and economic effects.
He was speaking on Tuesday (Jan. 13), during the official handing over of the National Water Sector Adaptation Strategy Plan for Jamaica, at the Ministry’s head office in New Kingston.
“If we don’t have some mitigating steps taken very early. we can lose large blocks in the coastal region and even if we don’t lose landmass, things like our underground aquifers can be significantly affected,” the Minister stated.
He noted that rising sea level, even by small margins, “can lead to increasing salination in some of our coastal aquifers, which will mean that we will have to close down wells and move to other areas.now if we are going to close down our coastal wells and destroy our watersheds and the runoffs, we will have no rivers. and this is very critical.”
The plan, developed by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, seeks to address climate change in Jamaica. “We will have to use this document as a part of the strategy to educate the public,” the Minister stated, while urging Jamaicans to protect the environment and the watersheds to help prevent the effects of climate change.
The drafting of the plan comes against the background of warnings by environmentalists and climatologists about the impact of climate change, which could severely affect the country’s ability to achieve sustainable development.
Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, Dr. Kenrick Leslie, said it is projected that climate change will exacerbate development challenges in the region, making it harder to attain and sustain the Millennium Development Goals.
He pointed out that the region is already experiencing changing weather patterns with more intense droughts, floods and hurricanes, and a recent study has shown the potential economic costs to small-island developing states, if no action is taken to remedy the situation.
He noted that by 2025, the average cost to the region will be 14 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), increasing to 39 per cent by 2050, 45 per cent by 2075 and 63 per cent by 2100. In the case of Jamaica, the numbers are 13.9 per cent by 2025, increasing to 27.9 per cent by 2050, 43 per cent by 2075 and 56.9 per cent by 2100.
“Water is one of the critical elements that is essential for economic sustainability in Jamaica and that is why.this report will help.in putting in place water policies that will help to minimise the projected impacts of climate change,” he stated.
Director of the Meteorological Service, Sylvia McGill, in her remarks, noted that climate change continues to pose serious challenges socially, economically and environmentally across the globe. “The assessments of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have stated that the small islands and the low-lying coastal areas are the most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change,” she stated.
She noted that the water resource sector will be adversely affected by the phenomena, due to change in rainfall patterns.
“Jamaica, from time to time, has been affected by these severe events, and as such, a National Water Sector Adaptation Strategy to address climate change at this time, is most appropriate,” she stated.
The role of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre is to provide timely forecasts and analyses of the potentially hazardous impact of climate change on the environment and develop special programmes, which create opportunities for sustainable development.