Mon | Oct 26, 2020

Earth Today | Environment players welcome new climate change ministry

Published:Thursday | September 24, 2020 | 12:10 AM

NEWS OF a new ministry focused on the environment and climate change has earned the approval of some local stakeholders who have championed the prioritisation of these areas together with the ongoing fight to beat COVID-19.

Called the Ministry of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change, the new entity is led by Minister Pearnel Charles Jr.

“I think it is part of the recognition of the significance of how serious climate change is for our country and our region. The fact that we now have a ministry with climate change is just further recognition of the significance of climate change,” said Professor Michael Taylor, a celebrated climate scientist.

“We talk about climate change being an existential threat and I think we are living through this threat ... . We cannot run away from climate change and its significance for our lives; and this is a recognition of that,” he added.

Head of Environmental Solutions Limited and a member of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, Eleanor Jones, was of a similar view.

“The COVID-19 pandemic, together with climate change, is being described in the international development community as the perfect storm. The secretary general of the United Nations has talked about ‘building back better’, and here in Jamaica, we have talked about ‘building back stronger’. I see this as an opportunity for us to build back stronger and to build back better,” she told The Gleaner.

For Indi Mclymont-Lafayette, a development communications specialist and one who has spent years involved in environmental advocacy, the time is right.

“I am very happy to see that a ministry of climate change and the environment has been established under the new administration. This is very encouraging and quite needed,” she said.

“Finally, having a dedicated climate and environment ministry signals our serious intent in these two areas and send a message to the international community and funders that Jamaica is taking action. I do hope the ministry will be suitably equipped to act strongly and sustainably,” Mclymont-Lafayette added.

The minister has himself flagged a number of priority areas.

“We are looking to ensure that we meet the mandate in terms of the global achievements for climate change in the Sustainable Development Goals, and we are looking to ensure that we continue our very good track record when it comes to making decisions that make it very clear that this Government respects the environment and will ensure we put the environment as a priority area in our development mandate,” he said in a recent interview with the Jamaica Information Service.

He is also keen on urban renewal, which, he noted, is critical, given that it “speaks to so many areas that are the faces of our cities, and making that a priority will ensure that we create an enabling environment where people will be able to not just live safely, but they will want to strive”.