$192 million EU/GoJ Environmental Project Launched: A Jamaican Path from Hills to Ocean
July 20, 2022
At the July 19 launch of the $192.0 million, EU/GoJ funded climate resilience project “A Jamaican Path from Hills to Ocean”, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator Matthew Samuda, underscored the importance of matching actions with the country’s vision of a sustainable future.
Delivering the keynote address, Minister Samuda said, “If we don’t become a centre of excellence in environmental management and in the issues related to climate change, we will not lift our people out of poverty and remain in the perpetual cycle of recovering from disasters….We have to hit every single target associated with this project. We have to work with everyone, NGOs, environmentalists, community leaders, as we are in a race against time.”
Deputy Director General in the Director General for International Partnerships, European Commission, Ms Myriam Ferran, said that it is the number one priority of her division to help partners to fight the impact of climate change, and that Jamaica is a wonderful illustration of a partnership that is having an impact. “We are grateful for excellent cooperation with all agencies involved. This is one piece of what the EU is providing to Jamaica and complementary to the budget support programme that is partly directed to the protection of forests. Very important progress has been made,” she said.
Speaking of how the agricultural sector is adapting, Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr Courtney Cole, said that the Ministry was incorporating principles of integrated landscape management and strengthening the resilience of communities in the adverse watersheds. Among the initiatives were drought resistant measures such as the construction of micro dams, solar projects, and diversifying how protein rich foods are grown.
Director Planning and Projects, National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Mr Answorth Carroll, says that the project will allow the agency to support projects and initiatives that help to reduce poverty through integrated landscape management. The project will help NEPA to identify and prioritize actions that are needed in the areas identified as severely degraded watershed areas, which includes watersheds.
The project, A Jamaican Path from Hills to Ocean which started in 2020 is being coordinated by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) with technical inputs from the Public Gardens Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries; the Rural Agricultural Development Agency (RADA); and the National Environment Protection Agency (NEPA). There is also strong collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation; the Forestry Department, Meteorological Service; the Water Resources Authority’ and the Department of Life Sciences, UWI Mona.
It will support community based organizations of farmers, fisher folk, entrepreneurs and environmental groups to improve their stewardship of targeted areas. There are three targeted Watershed Management Units (WMU): the Wag Water WMU in St Mary, including Castleton Gardens; the Rio Nuevo WMU in St Ann; and the Rio Bueno/White River WMU in St Ann and Trelawny.
Other area of focus are three wetlands : the Wetland Ecosystems in Falmouth, Trelawny; the Mason River Protected Area in St Ann and Clarendon; and the sea grass beds in the Ocho Rios Marine Park Protected Area in St Ann. Also under the project are coastal management initiatives for Hellshire Bay and Half Moon Bay within the Portland Bight Protected Area of St Catherine and Clarendon.
Deputy Director General, PIOJ Ms Barbara Scott, said that the first stage of the project involved a rapid ecological assessment by the Department of Life Sciences, UWI of three Water Management Units (WMUs). This was groundbreaking work producing data that are being used to inform action and policies for further interventions in watersheds.
Ms Scott said that the project which started a year ago was a good example of the strong partnership with EU and GOJ as sponsors, the PIOJ as the executing agency, implementing agencies and Public Gardens, RADA and NEPA.