Jamaica is among the many small island developing states located in the Caribbean, having an area of 11 000 km2 and territorial waters of 16 000 km2. The current population is an estimated 2.7 million, 60% of whom are within 2 km of the coast. About 52% of the population resides in urban centres. In 2009, it was estimated that 16.5% of Jamaicans are living below the poverty line, the majority of whom is in rural areas and who rely directly or indirectly on agriculture. Women account for some 46.7% of persons in poverty. The economy is heavily reliant on the climate and on natural resources and some 90% of gross domestic product (GDP) is said to be generated in the coastal areas. Tourism and agriculture are among the two sectors which contribute to the country’s GDP – 6.1% and 5.8% respectively in 2010. Additionally, the majority of the labour force is within the agriculture sector. The country is divided in 26 watersheds, most of which are badly degraded. Most of the farmers plant on less than 5 hectares (ha) of land, often on steep slopes within the watersheds.
Considering these physical and socio-economic attributes, the island – both the hinterlands and coastal areas – are extremely exposed to climate change. The threats include: increases in extreme rainfall events and drought; sea level rise; storm surges; more intense hurricanes; and increased temperatures. Already these events have been adversely impacting the country. For example, damage and losses associated with natural hazards in the past decade have totalled over $111.8 billion, and has resulted in the loss of life, injury and social dislocation; the agriculture sector has seen increases in pests and diseases; water resources are reduced in some key watersheds, and much more. Unless urgent and continued interventions are taken, these trends are likely to continue and possibly worsen.
This reality has been highlighted in Vision 2030 Jamaica – National Development Plan as Jamaica’s long-term sustainable development pathway. Vision 2030 Jamaica recognizes the need for a healthy natural environment and has climate change adaptation as a key
The Strategic Programme for Climate Resilience (SPCR) under the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR) is one of the current initiatives which will assist in climateproofing the country’s development. The SPCR is aligned to Vision 2030 Jamaica, and also builds on gaps and challenges identified in Jamaica’s Second National Communication (SNC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The programme was developed with input from stakeholders at the national and local levels, and reflects some of the priority areas identified from consultations. The areas of focus are: Water Resources; Human Health; Agriculture and Food Security; Tourism; Terrestrial Resource and Biodiversity; Coastal Resources and Human Settlements; and Financial Resources.
Jamaica’s PPCR involves two phases. Phase I, involves the development of the SPCR in collaboration with key stakeholders from national and community (local) levels. Phase II will be the implementation of the activities identified in the SPCR.
The Government of Jamaica (GOJ) is seeking to develop and implement initiatives under five broad thematic areas in the proposed SPCR, namely:
- mainstreaming climate change into Jamaica’s planning and policy formulation processes;
- strengthening institutional arrangements to ensure the effective mainstreaming of climate change;
- building capacity for climate data management, forecasting and planning;
- facilitating sectoral adaptation measures; and
- climate change education and awareness.