Climate change issues have taken on added significance, in light of the present and potential impacts on the economy.
Realising the impacts, the Meteorological (MET) Service of Jamaica has embarked on a Climate Change Awareness Campaign, in an effort to educate the public about how to effectively adapt to climate change.
The campaign, which was launched on World MET Day (March 23), is being spearheaded by the MET Service and the Environment Management Division, which falls under the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change. It is dubbed: ‘Climate Change-We have to change!’.
Communications Specialist for the Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Project (Area 3), Gail Hoad, informs that the campaign involves a number of strategies, which will be executed at both the community and national levels, to raise awareness islandwide.
“We will be embarking on a number of parish outreach meetings islandwide. We will also be conducting a number of high school visits, because we realise that the younger generation is more susceptible and open to information. So, the MET Office will seize the opportunity to engage this particular target audience about climate change,” she says.
Miss Hoad tells JIS News that posters, brochures, booklets, creative competitions, audio visual presentations are other communication channels that will assist to educate the public about climate change.
She points out that the campaign targets all aspects of Jamaica, including the private and public sectors, vulnerable communities, youth, and the disabled community.
“We want to reach groups that have never been reached before, especially the disabled community, to enlighten them about what is happening, and to help them to cope with the current and potential impacts of climate change,” she explains.
Miss Hoad adds that over the years, Jamaica has experienced a number of natural disasters, which have resulted in significant social dislocation and economic loss, caused by climate change.
“We are seeing more intense storm surges, hurricanes, severe droughts, and rise in sea levels, which negatively impact our environment. The campaign will therefore offer support and guidance to better prepare the nation about how to adapt to climate change, and how to respond pro-actively to natural hazards,” she notes.
She is encouraging citizens to play a part, by attending the various community meetings islandwide, which will provide a forum for two-way dialogue, in an effort to effectively address and adapt to climate change.
“We want to hear from residents what they have been experiencing in relation to climate change. This medium will enable the process of sharing information between the target audience and the MET Office, about how best to respond to climate change in Jamaica,” she says.
Miss Hoad tells JIS News she is confident that the target audience will be very receptive to the massages that will be transmitted. “Climate change affects everyone, and based on what we are seeing, people want to know what to do, so they can be more prepared,” she says.
In addition, Miss Hood informs that technical experts and scientists from the MET Office, and other agencies within the Ministry will also engage the target audience at the meetings, to explain why climate change is happening, and to work out the best adaptation strategies to cope with this issue.
The campaign is being implemented in collaboration with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and the Forestry Department.
“All of the agencies and departments are working together, as part of the national response to climate change. Disaster risk reduction, preparing for disasters, monitoring coastal areas, and rehabilitating degraded areas are strategies aimed at addressing climate change,” the Communications Specialist says.
The 12-month campaign is in tandem with the Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Project, andis being funded primarily by the Government, the European Union (EU), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
By Jeneva Gordon, JIS PRO