Jamaica environment minister calls for regional action on sustainable development

RobertPickersgill-1Georgetown, Guyana — Jamaica’s minister of water, land, environment, sustainable development and climate change, Robert Pickersgill, has issued a call to all Caribbean Community (CARICOM) stakeholders to shape the sustainable development agenda of the region.

“Governments, the private sector and civil society must all work together in shaping this agenda, particularly in 2015 when the global community will tackle several issues that will greatly influence the sustainable development roadmap of the globe.

“It is imperative that the Community speaks with ‘one voice from the same script’ in key international fora to ensure that the interest of the Community and that of small island developing states are represented”, he emphasized.

The minister was addressing the opening of the 53rd special meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on the environment and sustainable development at the CARICOM Secretariat Headquarters, on Friday, 6 February.

Pickersgill drew attention to three pivotal processes, in which the region is actively involved, for their critical importance to sustainable development: the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, in March; the Third International Conference for Financing Development, in July; and the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change, in December.

Noting that the linkages between disaster risk management and climate change cannot be overstated, he urged greater collaboration and coordination between the two sectors to ensure policy coherence and harmonised efforts at both national and regional levels.

Of concern for the Community at the conference for financing development is the constraint faced by several member states to access concessionary financing due to their designation as middle income states and the use of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita as a measure of development, notwithstanding the high level of indebtedness of these states.

“The sustainable development of several CARICOM SIDS will be undermined if the levels of indebtedness of these countries are not adequately addressed”, the minister said.

Within the context of the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change, he said that issues of importance for the Community were increasing availability of and simplifying access to climate change financing; and loss and damage from climate related disasters.

He added: “Discussions on intended nationally determined contributions must be mindful of our contexts, development aspirations, national priorities, circumstances and capabilities towards emissions reduction. The adoption of a new instrument to replace the Kyoto Protocols must remain our goal because our future depends on it.”

As the region heads into these discussions, he said it was important to acknowledge and encourage support of regional organizations and institutions.

“The technical expertise which resides within the region should be further harnessed to strengthen our sustainable development framework,” he urged. In this regard, Pickersgill stressed the need for the production of “robust and pertinent” data to inform decision making processes at the national, regional and international levels.

The meeting of COTED on Environment and Sustainable Development concluded on Friday. It followed on the heels of a special COTED meeting on energy and environment held earlier Thursday, which focussed on integrating issues pertaining to climate change into the Caribbean Sustainable Development Energy Roadmap and Strategy (C-SERMS).

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