Public Education on Climate Change Effects Remains Priority – Minister Pickersgill

Photo: Melroy Sterling Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Minister, Hon. Robert Pickersgill (right), presents Richard Bernard, one of 65 participants in the recently concluded Climate Change Action Training (CCAT) Programme, with his certificate during the graduation ceremony at the Airy Castle Church of God – Ground of Truth in the parish, on August 28. The training was organized by Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change (Ja REEACH) project, for young people in St. Thomas. Mr. Pickersgill was the guest speaker.

Story Highlights

  • The Minister stressed the importance of public education on the dangers of climate change
  • He cited projections for Caribbean countries to experience more frequent and intense hurricanes
  • The programme entailed some 32 hours of in-class training

Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Minister, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, says public education on the effects of climate change remains a priority for his Ministry.

Speaking at a graduation ceremony for more than 60 young persons who participated in a Climate Change Action Training (CCAT) Programme in St. Thomas, at the Airy Castle Church of God – Ground of Truth, on August 28, Mr. Pickersgill stressed the importance of public education in enlightening persons on the dangers climate change poses for small island developing states, like Jamaica.

He cited projections for Caribbean countries to experience more frequent and intense hurricanes, extreme rainfall, and longer periods of drought, resulting from climatic variations.

“The price we pay for climate change directly impacts on our environment. In fact, the impacts of climate change are felt in every aspect of our lives and in all sectors, including agriculture, fisheries, tourism, our supplies of ground and surface fresh water, and infrastructure, to name a few,” he outlined.

Arguing that climate change is the “most pressing” long-term challenge facing many nations, Mr. Pickersgill said focus in Jamaica is being placed on adaptation with mitigation strategies as a “supporting mechanism.”

“Climate proofing (in) all sectors, through policy development, budgetary allocations, and development planning, is therefore no longer an option for us. Jamaica will not be spared the impacts of climate change, and so adaptation is not a choice, it is imperative, given our past experience as well as empirical evidence,” the Minister emphasized.

This, he noted, would mean that some results would be long term, “but we have to act now. In other words, while we are adapting, we also should be mitigating against climate change and its impacts.”

Mr. Pickersgill also underscored the importance of trees in limiting the effects of climate change, while lamenting the challenges which deforestation poses.

Mr. Pickersgill contended that the essence of sustainable development “is the realization that we need to balance the competing goals of economic development and the preservation of the environment.”

“However, I reiterate my belief that economic development cannot and must not take place at the expense of our environment and vice versa,” he said.

Some 65 young people, ages 14 to 28, from Bath, Airy Castle, and its environs in St. Thomas, graduated as Climate Change Agents after participating in the Climate Change Action Training (CCAT) programme, organized by Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change (Ja REEACH).

The programme entailed some 32 hours of in-class training, and over 20 hours of field research, community consultation, and project implementation between June 1 and August 24. The participants were presented with certificates and special awards.

The CCAT is designed to assist in developing a cadre of informed, skilled and dedicated climate change action agents at the community level, to provide immediate and ongoing climate change leadership.

Ja REEACH, formerly the Marketing and Agriculture for Jamaican Improved Competitiveness (MAJIC) Project, aims to protect and enhance the welfare of residents and ecosystems of targeted rural communities affected by climate change.

It is being jointly implemented by the Government and the United States-based Agricultural Co-operative Development International/Volunteers in Overseas Co-operative Assistance (ACDI/VOCA), with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

 

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