2008 State of the Nation Address by Sen. Aundre Franklin, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health

Release Date: 
Friday, September 26, 2008 - 13:00

September 26, 2008

Mr. President: I am honoured to make my first contribution to the State of the Nation Debate. Let me take this opportunity to thank the Hon. Prime Minister for the confidence that he has demonstrated in appointing me to the Senate as well as to the Ministry of Health, in the capacity of Parliamentary Secretary. I also thank my colleagues, on both sides of the Senate especially the more seasoned ones for their guidance over the last twelve months. I pay tribute to Cabinet Minister, Honourable Rudyard Spencer for his stewardship of a challenging Ministry. Mr. President: I must also commend you for the able way that you have presided over the business of the Senate.

A context of urgent action

Mr. President: It is a great privilege to rise in these Chambers and speak on behalf of the Jamaican people on an issue that has never captured the imagination of our people nor occupied a place of prominence in governance or policy making. Yet, there is no single area that poses such an unparalleled threat to human security, social justice and human development as does the misuse of the environment.

Mr. President: The issue of environment and sustainable development became a prominent item within the global community in 1992 (Rio Conference) and then in 2002 (World Summit on Sustainable Development) and most recently in 2007 since the publication of the Report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Report of the IPCC has once again raised an alert for small island states such as Jamaica. Mr. President: Sea level is expected to rise, leading to an increase in storm surges, erosion and other coastal hazards as is presently the case along Jamaica’s coastline. Global warming will also affect islands in terms of vital infrastructure, settlements and the sustainable livelihoods of communities mainly in the areas of health, agriculture, water-supply and tourism. Of special note, fresh water resources will be reduced by mid-century in the Caribbean as well as Pacific States. Mr. President: We must put our people on alert from policymakers, parliamentarians, public and private sectors to private citizens. All indications point to a clear and present danger that threatens jurisdictions despite size, economy or geography.

Mr. President :
I will share some undisputed facts with you which make a compelling case for urgent action.

    Twentieth Century human activity has increased the presence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by 30% over pre-industrial levels. According to the 2006 Human Development Report published by the United Nations Development Programme, “development will have momentous consequences in the 21st
    The earth has warmed by 0.7 Degrees Celsius over the past century . century and beyond”.
    The ten warmest years on record have occurred since 1994
    As a decade, the 1990s were the hottest since the 14th
    The World Energy Outlook predicts that Carbon Dioxide emissions will increase by 63% over 2002 levels by the year 2030. Century
    In the mid 1990s, the Region accounted for an estimated 11% of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions.
    In the last three decades over 150 million people in the Region have been affected by disasters.
    Yet, the environmental expenditure in the Region over the past decade has rarely exceeded 1% of GDP and national expenditure has rarely exceeded 3% of total expenditure.

These are sobering facts that suggest a culture of unconcern and neglect among most world leaders. It is true that the world’s rich contribute significantly to environmental degradation, but it is the world’s poor that suffer the most. Our government must position sustainable development at the heart of our economic and social policy agendas as well as create a platform from which other economies of the Region can grow in a sustainable manner. The World Health Organization estimates that 85 of 102 major diseases reported in the most recent World Health Report are partly caused by exposures to environmental risks. In total, environmental causes contributed to 24% of the number of years of healthy life lost to diseases and to 23% of the mortality associated with the diseases. On average, children in developing countries lost 8-times more healthy life years than their counterparts in developed countries.

Today, more than 1.1 billion people are still using harmful sources of water and 2.6 billion people lack adequate sanitation. This means that a significant proportion of the world’s people face serious health risks.

Clearly, we are in a situation best described by the late Martin Luther King as “the fierce urgency of now” Mr. President: After decades of rampant neglect the time has come for government to take decisive action to protect the environment and safeguard the future of our country.

Mr. President: Our Government is fully aware and fully prepared to ensure that our environment is managed in a holistic manner. The Prime Minister has, in recognition of this fact, accorded high priority to this issue, and has mandated the establishment of a Department within the Ministry of Health – The Environmental Regulatory Authority (ERA), set to become fully operational and backed by the necessary legislative strength by April 2009.

Mr. President: The Steering Committee of the proposed Environmental Regulatory Authority’s (ERA) chaired by Professor Anthony Clayton, University of the West Indies outlines the objectives of the Environmental Regulatory Authority as, and I quote,

“The ERA will have primary responsibility for environment policing, compliance, monitoring and enforcement. It will monitor and protect Jamaica’s natural environment, and protect public health from environmental pollution. It will:

    Establish and maintain transparent, consistent and objective standards for the management and regulation of the environment in accordance with international best practice in these areas.
    Monitor compliance with these standards. This will include monitoring the performance of both public and private sector organizations to ensure compliance with zoning, national spatial plan and operational standards. With regard to public sector organizations, this will include those responsible for solid waste disposal, water and sewage treatment and discharge, construction, dredging and all other operations with significant environmental implications.
    Respond to complaints from the public as to environmental breaches perpetrated by individuals, developers, other firms or state agencies.
    Impose a range of sanctions and other remedial measures, including prosecution, charges for remediation/restoration and, when appropriate, punitive fines for individuals or organizations that deliberately or through gross negligence cause serious environmental damage. The ERA will be given the power to require, where appropriate, full restoration of the damaged site at the perpetrator’s expense.

Mr. President: The specific subject matters to be placed under the Environmental Regulatory Authority (ERA) will include, but not limited to:

    Air Quality Control
    Beach Control and Coastal Zone Protection
    Watershed Protection
    Marine Conservation
    Pollution Prevention
    Pollution Monitoring
    Protected Area and Bio-diversity Protection

The establishment of the Environmental Regulatory Authority, the development of the national spatial plan will require new statues and changes to a number of existing laws, regulations and policies, including the following:

    The Natural Resources Conservation Authority Act
    The Town and Country Planning Act
    The Land Development and Utilization Act
    The Wild Life Protection Act
    The Beach Control Act
    The Watersheds Protection Act
    The Jamaica National Environmental Action Plan
    Policy for Jamaica’s System of Protected Areas”

Format of my presentation

Mr. President: My presentation will:

    Examine Jamaica’s progress under major treaties and protocols to which we have been signatory or party;
    Establish the links between the environment Goal and other MDGs;
    Address climate change and health; and,
    Look at achieving Vision 2030

I will outline some specific measures that I believe will bring greater cohesiveness, consistency and coherence to our process of policy making and implementation. The measures will also provide a consistent avenue for contestable policy advice to the Government on environment related matters and deliver on another election promise of JOBS, JOBS, JOBS for our young people.

Progress under Treaties and Protocols

MR. PRESIDENT: A look at seven environmental Treaties and Protocols has shown that Jamaica has made some progress and will progress even farther in moving from commitment to action.

    Jamaica Country Programme for the Vienna Convention for the protection of Ozone Layer, Vienna, 1990 and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, Montreal 1987 were approved in 1996 three years after accession. The Country Programme is being implemented by the Ozone Unit of the National Environment and Planning Agency with support from the Multilateral Fund of the Ozone Secretariat of the Protocol. Jamaica ratified the Montreal Protocol in 1993 and met its first obligations under the Protocol on July 1, 1999 with the freeze on consumption of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The country was the first in the Caribbean to phase-out Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), four years ahead of the 2010 date set by the Montreal Protocol. However we have taken too long to complete the Ozone Act which is just being finalized.
    The National Action Programme is to be developed thirteen years after we acceded in 1995 to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), New York, 1992. The 2nd National Communication to the UNFCC is to be completed before December of this year and will set out the climate change vulnerability and adaptation strategies in areas such as coastal zones, human settlement, water resources, agriculture and human health.
    We have been lagging behind in terms of developing and implementing a portfolio of projects under the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCC to which we acceded in 1999.
    We need to scale-up activities to implement the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan which was approved in 2003 and to fulfill our obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity, Rio de Janeiro, 1992.
    Jamaica signed the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Montreal, 2000 in 2001 but the legislative and policy framework has not been completed to allow us to address issues such as genetically modified organisms, risk assessment and management.
    Eleven years after acceding to the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitats (RAMSAR), Jamaica is yet to complete the National Inventory and Assessment of Wetlands.
    The National Plan for Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS), Stockholm requires some US$17.5 Million for implementation while the National Plan of Action for the protection of the Marine Environment requires US$5.5 Million for implementation. Jamaica acceded to the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region from as far back as 1987- twenty-one years ago.

Short Term Action Plan

MR. PRESIDENT, we will ensure the following:

     That the Ozone Act will be finalized in this financial year;
    The third National Report under the Convention on Biological Diversity will be completed in the second quarter of FY 2008/09;
    By the third quarter of this financial year the policy and legislative framework for the Cartagena Protocol on Biological diversity will be completed;
    We will begin discussions with funding partners and other governments to help us finance the US $23M that is required to carry out implementation activities under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and the Protocol on Land Based Sources of Marine Pollution under the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean.

Links between Environment Goal and other MDGs

Mr. President: The Millennium Declaration represents an unprecedented promise to the world’s people. The Declaration and Goals are building blocks for human development and human rights. Goal number Seven: Ensure environmental sustainability, has some 3 targets and 8 indicators. It would seem that world leaders have progressed more on Goals that cover poverty reduction, education and health. Indeed, every country is fighting the same maladies of indifference and ignorance and a general lack of will at the political and bureaucratic levels.

Yet, there is no other Goal that is so inextricably linked to our human development outcomes and that impact the overall success of the Millennium Development Goals.

For example, we will never eradicate poverty and hunger as articulated in Goal # 1 if we continue with unsustainable natural resource exploitation that takes place in sectors such as agriculture and tourism.

Our ability to achieve Goal # 4 which seeks to reduce child mortality can be undermined if children are more exposed to environment-related diseases such as diarrhea and acute respiratory infection. Ill-health in turn reduces attendance at school making unsustainable the achievement of Goal # 2 universal primary education.

Goal # 5 improve maternal health could be negatively impacted by the effects of indoor air pollution or lack of access to proper anti-natal care.

Specific environmental conditions, such as air pollution and climate change contribute to the growth and spread of illnesses. The outbreak of malaria in Jamaica in December 2006 and the incidence of other vector-borne diseases resulted from a combination of environmental factors such as stagnated water, poor waste disposal practices, changes to climatic conditions resulting in more frequent flooding. Countries such as Jamaica are finding it increasingly difficult to combat disease as specified by Goal # 6.

Mr. President: It should be abundantly clear to all of us that no other Goal demonstrates with such extraordinary profundity the interdependence of human development policies and strategies. If the unsustainable development policies of the global community continue, we will condemn the world’s people-rich and poor alike- to a future of diminished prospects and irreversible and unprecedented decline in human development.

The inter-linkages that have been established between Goal # 7 and the other Millennium Development Goals should alert Government, bureaucrats and the NGO community to make a paradigm shift by committing to one agenda, one plan, a national strategy and linking our combined resources to achieving one vision.

Climate Change and Health

Mr. President: Climate change will have a pervasive effect on the environment and as a consequence on the well being of humans. The impact will be direct in terms of exposure to dangerous hazards such as floods, storms and diseases and indirect in terms of land-use changes, negative impact on water resources and the reduced production of food and other goods and services.

Human health will be adversely affected in several ways. Increases in air temperatures associated with global warming will result in an increase in the dangerous pollutants in the earth’s atmosphere. This will create an environment for increases in the incidences of respiratory and other related illness. Globally, temperature increases will enable disease carrying parasites such as mosquitoes to be able to survive at higher altitude and could result in new species surviving in places that were not possible in more moderate conditions.

An increase in the frequency and intensity of floods will result in a greater risk of water borne diseases while greater period of droughts will negatively impact food and water supplies. The potential increases in the intensity and possible frequency of tropical storms and hurricanes will place greater stress on the Jamaican population as well as increase the risk of devastation caused by these severe weather systems.

Mr. President: The world has been put on high alert.

Mr. President: The 13th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 3rd. Conference of Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP3) were held in Bali, Indonesia from 3 to 14 December 2007. I had the distinguished pleasure to head and lead Jamaica’s delegation at the High Level segment of the Conference which took place from 12th -14th
December 2007.

The Conference adopted the Bali Action Plan (“the Bali Roadmap”), which outlined a new negotiating process to be concluded by 2009 to finalize a new global agreement for substantial emission reductions to include developing countries by 2012 when the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol will end.

The goal of the Action Plan is to “secure climate future”. The Conference also adopted decisions on an Adaptation Fund, technology transfer to developing countries, and reducing emissions from deforestation were also adopted.

Mr. President: In my address to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) I reiterated our government’s commitment to the significant reduction of our country’s dependency on the use of fossil fuels for energy production by 2017 and to increase the use of renewable energy sources to about 25% of the energy mix.

Mr. President: It was also important to highlight Jamaica’s programme to achieve developed country status by the year 2030 through inter alia, the development, diffusion and transfer of clean, less carbon intensive technologies along with the building of institutional and human capacities.

I articulated Jamaica’s support for a second commitment period that will see the Annex I Parties taking on ambitious and significant emission reduction limitation objectives and the country’s readiness to begin the discussions that will result in the establishment of a platform for negotiations.

Mr. President: The Ministry of Health and Environment in association with the National Environmental Education Committee (NEEC) held a Forum on Climate Change, on February 15, 2008 in recognition of the 3rd Anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol on February 16. The event took the form of a stakeholders/media briefing at which the Bali delegation presented a report on the outcome of the conference and follow-up actions.

The 2007/08 Human Development Report “Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World”, has stated that climate change is likely to have major implications for human health for the 21st. century. The Report argues that many of the emerging risks for public health will be concentrated in developing countries where poor health is already a major source of human suffering and poverty.

Mr. President: The 61st World Health Assembly held in Geneva highlighted Climate Change and human health as one of three important global health threats. The other two being the food crisis and pandemic influenza.

In response to the background document provided, Jamaica commended the Secretariat on a comprehensive report on climate change and health and the resolution, noting that we like many other small island states are vulnerable to the shocks from climate change. This has been evident over the last decade as we have experienced fiercer hurricanes, rising sea levels and hotter temperatures. We have one of the highest rates of deforestation and motor vehicles per capita.

Jamaica’s profile on climate change has been prepared and emphasis placed on the impact of vector-borne diseases. We believe that climate change was a contributory factor in recent outbreaks of Dengue Fever and Malaria. In addition, the impact of climate changes on mental health cannot be underestimated or ignored.

If we are serious about creating sustainable livelihoods for our people and guaranteeing present and future generations of Jamaicans a safe, secure and healthy tomorrow, consideration needs to be given to:

    Building designs especially for the health infrastructure;
    Alternative modes of cleaner, safer transportation;
    Prudent fuel policies including the newer bio-fuels;
    Balancing business and good environmental and public health practices;
    Building evidence to determine the relationship between health and climate change; and,
    A joined up government approach to addressing climate change and environmental challenges.

There is an urgent need to review existing sector plans to include mitigation strategies that counter health impact and respond effectively and smartly to climate change. We welcome the priority that the World Health Assembly has placed on strengthening health systems as we see the primary health care/public health approach as essential in leading the process through:

    Renewed efforts at community, engagement, mobilization and empowerment for behaviour change towards practices that improve the environment and partnership building
    Multi-sectoral approaches that advocate for policy change and implementation of action
    Public awareness ( We commend WHO for highlighting Climate Change for World Health Day 2008)

We also noted WHO’s offer to provide well needed technical support for capacity building and assessment of health policies, implications for health and health systems and looked forward to the work plan. The Commonwealth Health Ministers’ meeting was held one day before the Assembly and advanced that the theme for 2009 would be health and climate change. Over 45 Member States called upon the WHO to:

    Accelerate research;
    Strengthen of public health systems;
    Enhance capacity building;
    Coordinate efforts among UN organizations and non-governmental organizations; and,
    Ensure effective financial assistance to address climate change and health.

The Resolution that was adopted introduced specific actions required on the part of Member States to:

    Develop health measures and integrate them into national plans for adaptation to climate change;
    Build the capacity of public health leaders to be proactive in providing technical guidance on health issues, be competent in developing and implementing strategies for the mitigating effects of, and adapting to, climate change, and show leadership in supporting the necessary rapid and comprehensive action;
    Strengthen the capacity of health systems for monitoring and minimizing the public health impacts of climate change through adequate preventive measures, preparedness, timely response and effective management of natural disasters;
    Promote effective engagement of the health sector and its collaboration with all related sectors, agencies and key partners at national and global levels in order to reduce the current and projected health risks from climate change;
    Express, as a priority, national commitment to meeting the challenges posed to human health by climate change, and to provide clear directions for planning actions and investments at the national level in order to mitigate the health effects of climate changes; and,
    Examine, in collaboration with organizations of the United Nations system and other parties, the feasibility of establishing an international financing instrument to provide support to developing countries in order to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Mr. President: The conscience of the global community is astir. Jamaica must seize this moment of urgency to act decisively in the interest of our people.

The national report on the status of the implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will be completed at the end of this year and after approval by Parliament will be submitted to the Secretariat of the (UNFCCC) at the Fifteenth Session of the Conference of Parties to be held in December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The following are some of the information that will be included in the second national communication:

    An inventory of our anthropogenic emission of greenhouse gases by sources and removal by sinks for the years 2000 to 2005. The gases are reported on a sector by sector basis and are mainly carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. The information will determine the sectors that will require special attention for reduction efforts;
    An analysis with recommendations of those options that will be most suitable for us to implement to reduce our emissions of these greenhouse gases will be included as one of the chapters;
    Another section will include an assessment of how vulnerable we are to the negative impact of climate change in particular sea-level rise, increases in the intensity and frequency of severe weather events in particular flood, droughts, tropical storms and hurricanes, changes in the rainfall pattern and increases in the surface air temperatures;
    Having identified the possible extents of these adverse effects we will then find what are the most suitable intervention measures and formulate recommendations that can be integrated into national policies and programmes for adapting to climate change;
    These integrated assessments will be undertaken of our coastal resources, water resources, agricultural sector, human settlements and human health.

In addition to the national communication, we are developing two project proposals to submit to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) for funding to:

    Develop a building that will be an example of the sustainable use of energy sources and design criteria. It will utilize renewable technologies and will be designed to allow for natural lighting and ventilation as well as to withstand a Category 5 hurricane. The methodologies will be available to be replicated locally and throughout the region; and,
    Identify the most suitable options to enable the most vulnerable sections of the south coast of Jamaica to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.

Regionally, we are involved with the project: Mainstreaming for Adaptation to Climate Change, (MACC) that is being implemented by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, (CCCCC) in Belize. This project is developing a national water sector adaptation strategy to address climate change.

Internationally, we continue to actively participate in the climate change negotiations. Currently, we are involved in the talks to establish a new multi-lateral process that will replace the Kyoto Protocol when it expires at the end of 2012. The new instrument will have very ambitious emission reduction targets in the order of 50-80% of the year 2000 emission levels to be achieved by the year 2030. It will include all of the main emitters of greenhouse gases including the developing countries.

The way forward to achieve Vision 2030

Mr. President: Vision 2030 Jamaica was officially launched on October 31, 2007. It is a long-term strategic National Development Plan being formulated to achieve developed country status by the year 2030. The development strategies that are contained in this national plan are informed by the lofty Vision “… to make Jamaica the place of choice to raise families, live, work and do business”. Some of the strategic priorities that are in the Plan include the development of human resources, international competitiveness, environmental sustainability, health, social protection, law and order, good governance and science, technology & innovation.

The achievement of Vision 2030 hinges on the quality of our environmental stewardship. We must scale-up activities to include environmental considerations as an integral part of all sector policies and programmes. Jamaica must move beyond commitment to action in the protection of the environment and the sustainable livelihoods of the Jamaican people.

Mr. President: In 2030 the year Jamaica is to become a developed country, it is estimated that almost 8 billion people will be living on the earth, nearly 2 billion more than today. The year is 2008, eight years into a new century, a new paradigm, a new society, however the labour force landscape continues to be dominated by the two main labour forces from the last century : the white collar worker and the blue collar worker. I salute both working groups which have played a tremendous role in our country and have taken us so far in fine style.

However the complexities of the global oil crisis, high unemployment amongst young people, an environment under immense pressure from the demands of a growing population and a Vision to transform Jamaica in the year 2030 to developed status, justifies the formal recognition of a new work- force, backed by sound legislation, a proven track record in many developed countries (Denmark, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and United States of America)

Mr. President: The time has come for the formal recognition and induction of a new work-force in Jamaica, the GREEN COLLAR WORKER- The creation of a green economy and the creation of green jobs. Incidentally, Green For All, a US national organization dedicated to building an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty, led by Van Jones will on September 27, 2008 (tomorrow) rally tens of thousand of people in a National Day of Action to call for the creation of a green economy.

Mr. President: GREEN COLLAR WORKERS are workers who generally implement environmentally conscious design, policy, and technology to improve conservation and sustainability. Formal environmental regulations as well as informal social expectations are pushing many firms to seek professionals with expertise with environmental, energy efficiency, and clean renewable energy issues. They often seek to make their output more sustainable, and thus more favorable to public opinion, governmental regulation, and the Earth's ecology.

Green collar workers include professionals such as conservation movement workers, environmental consultants, environmental or biological systems engineers, green building architects, holistic passive solar building designers, solar energy and wind energy engineers, green vehicle engineers, organic farmers, environmental lawyers, ecology educators, and eco-technology workers.

They also include vocational or trade-level employment: electricians who install solar panels, plumbers who install solar water heaters, and construction workers who build energy-efficient green buildings, wind power farms, or other clean, renewable, sustainable future energy development workers could all be considered green jobs. Mr. President: I believe that both the former administration of the Peoples National Party and the present Jamaica Labour Party led government are committed to the greening of Jamaica. Mr. President: The time has come for Jamaicans from all walks of life to protect the environment and also to be meaningfully employed. Some may argue that concept of the greening Jamaica began when former Prime Minister Hon. Michael Manley, in the 1970’s attempted a social programme geared towards putting thousands of Jamaicans to work in cleaning up the environment. The actual merits/demerits and structure or lack thereof, of this 1970’s programme dubbed “crash programme” is not the issue. The idea of training thousands of unemployed Jamaican youths for 21st century jobs of international marketability, to work in a meaningful sustainable manner forms the genesis for my calling for the creation of a green economy and effectively GREEN JOBS.

Mr. President: Both the former and present administration has made positive moves towards the formal creation of the GREEN ECONOMY. When one looks at the Wigton Wind-farm of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, the proposed establishment of a solar energy farm in Hellshire, the creation of an ethanol plant, greenhouse farming projects- organic food production, these are all part of the GREEN ECONOMY.

Mr. President: To formalize the entry of this new work force I also call for the creation of a GREEN JOB ACT as was done in December 2007 in the United States. This Act would be structured to guarantee the training of young people for green collar jobs locally and abroad. It would authorize funding for the workforce training progranmes targeted at displaced workers, at-risk youth, under-employed persons and families in extreme poverty. It will train people for jobs like solar panel manufacturing and assembly, solar panel installation and servicing, weatherization, landscape developers and maintenance specialists, organic farming, rooftop landscape artists, electricians, boiler maintenance technicians, welders and masons.

Mr. President: The question that is silently being asked is, Where is the money to come from to finance the GREEN COLLAR WORKFORCE? There is no doubt that the government will have to lead the way in financing the training of its people. This could be done by selling the nation’s carbon credits, seeking funding through the UNFCC Clean Development Mechanism and Petro- Caribe.

To promote the private sector involvement, the government could offer tax incentives to Companies that carry out GREEN PROJECTS within inner-city communities, tax incentives for companies which employ trainees to landscape their rooftops as is done in Japan, Denmark and Australia to name a few developed countries.

Mr. President: A green roof is a roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and soil, or a growing medium, planted over waterproofing membrane. Green roofing should be encouraged in our built-up areas such as New Kingston, which would provide amenity space for building users, reduce heating, reduce storm-water run off, filter pollutants and heavy metals out of rainwater, increase wildlife habitat and most importantly provide a job.

National Policy Development

In order to achieve strategic focus and coherence at the policy level, I believe that the time has come to establish a meaningful National Sustainable Development Council to provide policy advice to the Government on matters of the environment and Climate Change. There is a wealth of knowledge and expertise that is available outside of the state sector that should be available to the Government on a consistent basis. The membership would be drawn from academic, civil society and other non-state as well as government entities.

National Implementation Team

Mr. President: We should also seek to establish a National Multi-sectoral Implementation Team to include non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community-based organizations (CBOs) and faith based organisations (FBOs). This monitoring team would bring together all environment related programmes into one National Environment Work-plan.

The monitoring of the implementation of activities would cascade down to the level of the community to build commitment and ownership into every nook and cranny of Jamaica.

There is urgent need to strengthen the capacity of state institutions for integrated policy development, programme implementation and monitoring and evaluation. This requires a fundamental re-look at some governmental operations such as budgeting and reporting relationships. A national environment workplan would have diverse owners including the Health Ministry, National Solid Waste Authority, the Forestry Department and Parish Councils working from a joint or integrated budget that they developed together through a process of consultation. These entities would have some reporting relationship and accountability to the national monitoring team.

This National Implementation Team would be required to report to the Parliament on the implementation of the National Environment Work-plan.

Financing Environment Activities

The national work-plan should include a national budget. Jamaica should know what is required to carry out our obligations to the people of Jamaica including future generations. There is no doubt that the Consolidated Fund cannot meet the total financing requirement of a national environment and climate change plan. A mix of financing strategies will have to be developed building on what exists including financing from funding partners and GoJ financing. It may be timely to consider the following some of which will provide additional revenue for the implementation of the national plan:

    Substantial fines for projects that breach environmental standards;
    A producer/importer/user levy on items/activities that harm the environment;
    Imposition of a fine on fisher folk who over-fish in order to encourage the best utilization of the fish stock;
    Green certification and incentives for developers who use renewable energy sources for buildings including residential buildings;
    Tax relief for investors who develop green communities in inner-cities;
    Incentives for communities that keep drains and gullies clean and that dispose of waste appropriately.

National Consensus

Mr. President: Government could use the process involved in developing Vision 2030 to create a new road map in sustainable development. We do not have the luxury of time to point fingers or to debate on who did more for the environment. The truth is no Government has ever done enough. Together we can change that because as the late Martin Luther King Jr. said “we are faced now with the fact that tomorrow is today… (and) there is such a thing as being too late.”

Closing Remarks The “fierce urgency of now” provides an opportunity for us to engage our people in an open and sincere discourse about this preventable crisis that we face. This nation has faced many trials. Our people have confronted many challenges. We have demonstrated that we can triumph over adversity and turn difficulties into challenges. We are faced with far too many unemployed youths, idle hands and idle minds.

Mr. President: In closing, let us all join in calling for a GREEN ECONOMY and GREEN JOBS. I believe that our people will join with their leaders to protect Jamaica land we love for our children and future generations.