Gov’t To Conduct Coastal Assessment Studies

Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Mike Henry (second left), looks on as Managing Director, Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), Omar Sweeney (centre); and Managing Director, Smith Warner International Limited, Jamel Banton (second right), display a signed contract that will facilitate coastal assessment studies at eight areas across the island. The signing was held on Thursday (September 19), at the offices of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) in Kingston. Chief Executive Officer, National Environment and Planning Agency, Peter Knight; and Project Manager, Jamaica Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project, Stacey-Anne Preston, also look on.
Monday, September 23, 2019
Date Published: 
Monday, September 23, 2019 - 12:00pm
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The Government of Jamaica will be conducting multi-hazard assessments of eight priority coastal areas across the island.The studies, to be undertaken over two years by consulting firm Smith Warner International, will provide an understanding of the vulnerabilities and risks associated with the built and natural environments, with a view to identifying solutions geared towards climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.A sum of $132.6 million is being provided by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) under the Jamaica Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project (JDVRP) for the assessments.Representatives of JSIF and Smith Warner signed the contract for the undertaking at JSIF’s offices in Kingston on Thursday (September 19).Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, under which JSIF falls, Hon. Mike Henry, said that the studies are important, given Jamaica’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, with approximately 80 per cent of economic activity taking place along the coast.He said that Jamaica could face severe social and economic disruption from sea-level rise, which will threaten 20 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).“The studies will help to identify solutions, which will guide climate change and risk reduction… . They will help us to understand where we are vulnerable and help us to know how we are vulnerable, and the contract relates to identifying that,” he noted.Managing Director of JSIF, Omar Sweeney, said that coming out of the assessments, the Government will be better able to understand, assess and plan for risks associated with climate change.For his part, Managing Director, Smith Warner International, Jamel Banton, said that the eight coastal towns covered under the studies are some of the most vulnerable in the island.He said the assessments “will cover all the hazards that could have great impact –landslides, flooding from rivers, storm surge, and coastal erosion”.“When we get that information… we will then have to look at not just the physical but the social and biological impacts that climate change can have on our communities,” he noted.Funded by the World Bank, the JDVRP supports the Government’s overall thrust in strengthening climate and disaster-risk management within the wider context of sustainable development.