Minister Daryl Vaz’s Remarks at the Pre-COP 25 Meeting and Launch of Jamaica’s Green Climate Fund Country Programme

On October 23, I joined the annual meeting organized by the Climate Change Division ahead of the upcoming UN Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP 25) in Santiago, Chile. Our meeting was titled: Climate Action: The 2020 Agenda. We met at the very cool new AC Marriott Hotel in Kingston. It was very well attended by public sector representatives and the focal points for climate change from almost all the ministries; as well as a much smaller number of civil society representatives.

The day was full of helpful presentations and discussions, although we ran out of time and did not discuss the two important IPCC Special Reports on Climate Change and Land and The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing ClimateI hope there will be an opportunity to do so at a later date.

I could not fit everyone into the photograph but here are some of the participants in the Pre-COP Meeting. (My photo)

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Daryl Vaz was there to officially launch Jamaica’s Green Climate Fund (GCF) Country Programme for engagement with the GCF (several representatives there also made presentations on the background and the work that needs to be done going forward). We then went on to address Financing Climate Action and the Katowice Climate Package and Paris Agreement Work Programme.

Did I mention the word “work”? Yes, there is much work to be done.


Here is Minister Vaz’s presentation at this event, in full (did you know about the Green Bonds, by the way?)

It is with great pleasure that I bring greetings to this consultation, in preparation for the 25th session of the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), that will be held in Santiago, Chile in December this year.

Ladies and Gentlemen, with the weather events of this year, we have once again learnt that climate change is no respecter of time nor place. If anything, the effects are getting worse with each passing day and year. Bearing this in mind, action is needed all the time and all year round.

Already we see the effects of climate change having a serious impact on our way of life, from extended droughts to more intense rainfall and an increase in salinization of our groundwater sources, to name a few.

The scientists have been saying that we should anticipate more category 3-5 hurricanes.  The Bahamas can attest to the very real impact of these systems with the recent passage of Hurricane Dorian.

We all can therefore appreciate that planning for climate change is both for “the now”  as well as  for the future – where we do our best to adapt to the anticipated changes and to also recognise where there are limits,  how we can adapt.

In keeping with tradition, this “Pre COP” event, being held under the theme Climate Action: the 2020 Agenda is aimed at providing you with highlights on some of the actions that are taking place.

The year 2020 is of much significance and holds much promise. But getting to where we are currently, involved a lot of forward thinking and planning, not done in isolation, but by engaging with our stakeholders at all levels of society, while of course, supporting the aspirations enshrined in Vision 2030 Jamaica and the Sustainable Development Goals.

When thinking about and planning for climate action, one of the most important considerations for all involved is funding. The Government of Jamaica has been advancing climate action in many different ways, including through budgetary allocations from the Government coffers as well as those from bilateral and multilateral partners that are partnering with us in this regard.

However, this is not sufficient to address the scale of the issue. Bearing this in mind, we embarked on a process that would, over time, increase our capacity and ability to access more climate finance.

The development of Jamaica’s first Country programme for engagement with the Green Climate Fund (GCF) which I will formally launch today, is but one of the outputs of this process.

We anticipate using this country programme mechanism to develop sound and targeted project proposals to access funding.

The preparation of the country programme and other very important activities have been made possible through readiness grants from the GCF. At present, we are implementing three readiness grants with an approved amount of US$1.4 million. Jamaica is also working towards having national entities directly access GCF resources.

We have already received technical assistance to support the Jamaica Social Investment Fund with advancing its accreditation process to the GCF. The Development Bank of Jamaica and the Planning Institute of Jamaica, given their experience and expertise, have also been nominated for accreditation.

We have the resources and will commence activities to develop a gender and climate change strategy and action plan.

I continue to be excited that our Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, ON, MP, on his recent visit to the Republic of South Korea for the 2019 GCF Private Investment for Climate Conference, accepted the formal letter of approval for the grant to support activities towards listing a Green Bond on the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE).

Many of the activities will be conducted in 2020 upon finalisation of contracting arrangements. This is a significant activity for us in Jamaica on many fronts, and shows the potential for the private sector to be more engaged in taking climate action.

The green bond readiness builds on a previous GCF readiness project which explored the barriers to private sector engagement in climate action, while simultaneously increasing their knowledge of the opportunities that exist.

Another important milestone for 2020 will be the finalisation of our enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). For those not familiar, the NDC is a part of our obligations as a Party to the Paris Agreement, and we use it to indicate the extent to which we will be reducing our greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

Our current NDC was predicated on the 2009 energy policy.

Much has since changed and we want to reflect the policies and plans that are in place for other sectors which will not only reduce GHG emissions, but improve our sinks (such as storing carbon in trees).

Assessments are currently underway for us to determine which sectors will be included.    Indications are that water, transportation, waste and forestry have great potential.

This work is being supported through a grant facility being managed by the World Bank and in collaboration with the NDC Partnership of which Jamaica is a member.

Once the enhanced NDC is finalised, we will be moving ahead with the preparation of an investment plan to support the NDC implementation and also the preparation of a low carbon development strategy.

In keeping with obligations of the Paris Agreement, Jamaica is moving to implement a transparency framework.

We have commitment for support of the project “Strengthening Jamaica’s Capacity to Meet the Transparency Requirements under the Paris Agreement”.  This project will improve our monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) systems, to track our progress in meeting the ambitious targets set in our NDCs.

We anticipate the approval process will be completed in time to commence preliminary activities in 2020. We are partnering with the Inter-American Development Bank on this initiative.

2020 is already shaping up to be a most active year for climate action, but there is more.  In partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) we have submitted a proposal to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) for preparation of our 4th National Communications and our 2nd and final Biennial Update Report (BUR).

National Communications are not just documents we submit because we are a Party to the UNFCCC, but they provide evidence of the impact that climate change is having on vulnerable sectors here in Jamaica.

They have provided the basis on which we have made a lot of the progress achieved in climate action, from Vision 2030 Jamaica to the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR) and the Adaptation Fund Programme, to name a few.

In the next iteration, we intend to expand our focus to include limits to adaptation, as loss and damage associated with climate change is increasingly becoming an issue which needs greater attention.

The Biennial Transparency Report which will replace the BUR in 2024, will provide data on emissions across sectors using the internationally accepted Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) methodology. We are building our knowledge capacity in this critical area.

Jamaica is also part of Phase 3 of a global initiative, the Technology Needs Assessment Project, led by  the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Technical University of Denmark (DTU) Partnership.

The project is supporting 23 countries with conducting a needs assessment and developing a Technology Action Plan. There is great potential for the application of prioritised technologies to be included in future GCF Country Programmes.

Having a governance mechanism in place is essential and necessary. As you are aware, the previous Government approved a Climate Change Policy Framework in 2015/2016. Since then, there have been many emerging issues and new obligations (such as the Paris Agreement) which were not captured in that Policy Framework.

The Cabinet has therefore given approval for the process of reviewing and updating the Climate Change Policy Framework.

With the help of Global Affairs Canada and the IMPACS Project we have made significant progress and expect the new framework to be ready in 2020.

I urge you to stay tuned for more on the public consultations in which we expect you to actively participate.

At COP 25, countries are expected to decide on how to move the global climate change agenda forward and there will be many outcomes that we need to pay careful attention to.

Once again, Jamaica has  every intention of being at the table and being engaged in the process to ensure that our needs and vulnerabilities remain at the fore in all the decisions that are made.

In closing let me remind you that next year, 2020 will mark 25 years since Jamaica ratified the UNFCCC. This is a big deal. Whether in track and field, in music, or in climate change negotiations, Jamaica has made sure that its voice is heard around the world. We are more than committed to continuing this tradition of excellence in leadership because despite our best efforts, the effects of climate change rages on more fiercely than it did 25 years ago.

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s come together;  let us plan;  let us discuss;  let us efficiently execute and with that said, I now take this opportunity to declare this 2019 PreCOP Consultation open as I formally launch this first GCF Country Programme for implementation in Jamaica.

Thank you all and may God bless Jamaica,  land we love.

(left to right): Ms. Una May Gordon, Principal Director, Climate Change Division; Ms. Katherine Blackman, Climate Finance Advisor, Climate Change Division; Minister Daryl Vaz; and three members of Climate Analytics, who made presentations on the Green Climate Fund. (My photo)

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