Region must be proactive on climate change – PIOJ head


Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Gladstone Hutchinson, has said that Caribbean nations must become more proactive in addressing climate change, given the region’s vulnerability to natural disasters.
“As planners we can no longer sit by and wait to carry out post assessments of hazards impact. We have to become more proactive, we have to anticipate and account for environmentally-related shocks and risks in our macroeconomic planning,” he stated.
Dr. Hutchinson was addressing the PIOJ’s 7th Dialogue for Development Lecture under the theme: ‘Building Climate Resilient Economies and Societies: the Way Forward,’ on Tuesday (November 17) at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston.
He noted that the region has become familiar with the devastating impacts of climate-related hazards, citing the numerous droughts, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanoes that have wreaked havoc on islands ranging from Haiti, St. Lucia, Dominica Republic, Cuba, and Jamaica.
Stating that the effects of natural disasters have put a strain on national budgets, Dr. Hutchinson said that over the last 10 years, the cost of disasters in Jamaica alone, amounted to over $114 billion or approximately 2.2 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“Our vulnerability to natural disasters is one of the binding constraints to our ability to achieve sustainable growth and development,” he said, citing the recent damage sustained during Tropical Storm Nicole.
Dr. Hutchinson said that the Jamaican Government is committed to making the economy climate resilient, noting that the Vision 2030 National Development Plan speaks to attaining a healthy, natural environment.
“The reality is that climate resilience and a proper stewardship of our environment integrates economic, social, cultural and environmental dimensions around which as a country, we have consolidated our aspirations. This, in the end, is the key goal of development,” he stated.
A brief provided by the PIOJ on ‘Climate Change and Jamaica’, points to the need for an integrated, multi-faceted approach to addressing the issue, particularly one that involves evidence and science-based decision making.
Climate change or global warming refers to the change in weather patterns due to the buildup of man-made gases in the atmosphere, which trap the sun’s heat. The effects include seal level rise, more intense tropical storms and hurricanes, more extreme periods of drought and rainfall, and increase in sea surface and atmospheric temperatures.
Small island developing states, such as Jamaica, are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

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