DR. ARUN KASHYAP: 50th Anniversary Banquet and Installation Ceremony, Rotary Club of Mandeville

Jun 28, 2014

Dr Arun Kashyap
UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative
50th Anniversary Banquet and Installation Ceremony
Rotary Club of Mandeville
Golf View Hotel, Mandeville - Manchester
Saturday, June 28, 2014

  • Her Worship Mayor Brenda Ramsay
  • Custos Sally Porteous
  • District Governors
  • President Pauline Channer, Rotary Club of Mandeville
  • President Francois St. Juste, Rotary Club of Kingston
  • Incoming President, Mr. Elroy Ricketts, Rotary Club of Mandeville
  • District Officers, Rotary Club of Mandeville
  • Rotarians; Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

A very good evening to all of you.

On behalf of the United Nations System in Jamaica, it is a pleasure for me to be here this evening. Our heartfelt congratulations to all of you on the celebration of fifty years of service. And, thank you for the opportunity to participate in these august celebrations of Mandeville Rotary Club’s 50th Anniversary.

My deepest commendation to the new President and the Board of the Rotary Club of Mandeville. I am confident that these leadership transitions make the Rotary club stronger and contribute to its progress with increasing success in fostering its mission and sustain delivery of its services effectively in meeting the unmet demands of peace and an improved quality of life for all.

A shared vision of advancing communities and nations towards sustainable human development is common to Rotary International and the United Nations. As expected, the United Nations and the Rotary International have a long and a productive history of working together closely in partnership to build upon our common vision for an inclusive and an equitable world that is grounded in respect for human rights and dignity for all.

In 1942 Rotary clubs from 21 nations organized a conference in London to develop a vision for advancing education, science and culture following WWII as a precursor to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). And in 1945, 49 Rotarians helped to draft the UN Charter in San Francisco. As you would also know Rotary International appoints representatives each year to several UN bodies and maintains an office at UN headquarters in New York. Being here with Rotarians therefore, is for me like visiting an extended family in Jamaica.

The United Nations in Jamaica is deeply committed to work with the Government of Jamaica and Jamaicans, to promote inclusive and equitable development that would tangibly advance the quality of life of all citizens - especially women, children, and the marginalized and vulnerable communities. The United Nations in Jamaica is represented by nine resident agencies, viz. (i) the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), (ii) the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); (iii) United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); (iv) the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); (v) the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); (vi) the World Health Organization (WHO)/Pan American Health Organization (PAHO); (vii) the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), (viii) United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and (ix) United Nations Department of Safety and Security.

Additionally, 9 non-resident agencies are considerably active in collaborating with the Government of Jamaica to meet its development priorities reflected in the Vision 2030 Jamaica - National Development Plan. They include (i) United Nations Women, (ii) United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), (iii) International Labour Organization (ILO); (iv) International Atomic Energy Agency; (v) Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; (vi) United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; (vii) United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime; (vii) the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC); and United Nations Volunteers (UNV).

The United Nations Development Action Framework (current 2012-2016) provides the guidance and basis for the programmes of all UN agencies in Jamaica. Prepared in a participatory manner with the inclusion of all stakeholders, UNDAF is an expression of the UN’s continuing commitment and cooperation with the Government and People of Jamaica to work together in achieving the National Development Plan. We are confident that the UNDAF while responding to Jamaica’s main development challenges is contributing to transform the country towards improved standards of living especially for the socially excluded and vulnerable.

The UN has declared 2014 as the International Year of SIDS. It is the first time that the General Assembly has designated an international year for a group of countries. This observance demonstrates an increasing understanding of the need to collectively, as international community, address the special needs of Small Island Developing States.

The timing of 2014 as the International Year for SIDS is fitting; the United Nations at present, is leading a global effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (we are now less than 600 days to the target 2015 date for achieving the MDGs), elaborating a global legal climate agreement this year; and preparing a new vision for sustainable development by forging a new Post 2015 development agenda that is rights based and provides an opportunity for progress and a life of dignity for all.

And, as agreed by the member-states at the Rio+20 conference, the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States will be held in Apia, Samoa in September – later this year.

In acknowledging the need for a third SIDS conference, Rio+20 also put in place the participatory global consultations that engage diverse stakeholders to envision the “Future we want for all” Post 2015. We appreciate the important role in the global process played by the Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller who has consistently encouraged Jamaica and Jamaicans to participate and contribute to this important discussion.

The Year of SIDS provides the Islands with unique opportunity to create a new vision and harness fresh energy and partnerships to address the challenges that lie ahead. Most nations in the Caribbean Region are classified as middle income countries. There are shared challenges of high indebtedness, the need to eliminate poverty and inequality, lower energy costs, strengthen transport and communications while enhancing revenues from sustainable tourism (with implications for Forests, Oceans, Biodiversity and Ecosystem services) and the necessity to fortify inclusive growth through enhanced skills in science, technology and human resource development.

The exceptional vulnerability of the SIDS countries to the most complex development issue faced by the global community today – that of climate change – makes it important for the islands to cope with it as a priority while empowering themselves to acquire greater access to financing for adaptation and strengthening the loss and damage mechanism to put in place adequate safety net instruments.

I would submit that climate change is the greatest development challenges faced by the humanity today. And, as mentioned earlier, the Small Island Developing States (read Jamaica) have the highest vulnerability to its adverse impacts.

The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released earlier this year has affirmed that “we are now experiencing the impacts of climate change”. The scientists have acknowledged that “Climate change once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present.

And, commenting on this Report the New York Times in its front page story in May (6) 2014 wrote “the effects of human-induced climate change are being felt in every corner of the United States with water growing scarcer in dry regions, torrential rains increasing in wet regions, heat waves becoming more common and more severe, wildfires growing worse, and forests dying under assault from heat-loving insects.” While such changes have been attributed to an average warming of less than 2 degrees F in the past century, we can well imagine the scenario presented by the temperatures exceeding 10 degrees F by the end of the century if carbon dioxide and methane continue to escalate at a rapid pace. And, that is indeed a conceivable situation.

The Islands are small in size; they are geographically dispersed; additionally they are isolated from the markets and have limited resources. The islands are economically disadvantaged, face environmental problems and challenges of coastal zones. In addition they are ecologically fragile and are among the countries with greatest vulnerability to climate change, especially to increasing intensity and frequency of natural hazards. In addition, the islands are increasingly being classified as MICs and Upper MICs. Remarkably, nearly 70% of the poor people world-wide live in MICs which have greater inequality compared to low income countries and high income countires.

Development choices impact disaster risk – positively or negatively, depending largely on the development preferences. Often a critical missing element in the analysis has been the consideration of the causal link between the risk of disasters and emergencies, and development. While humanitarian action to mitigate the impact of disasters is indispensable, there is a need to better anticipate, manage and reduce disaster risk by ensuring the integration of any potential threat into development planning and policies. In the Small Island Developing States dearth of inclusive development strategies has intensified inequalities and increased indebtedness at the macroeconomic level; the latter amplifies social, economic and infrastructural vulnerabilities and leads to development losses.

The shock on the Caribbean economies casued by the recent global financial crisis worsened the inequalities. The net adverse effect has thwarted decent livelihoods and jobs, degraded ecosystems, constrained access to basic services including health, water and energy services, and inadequate infrastructure.
The poor and the disadvantaged have suffered the most as a consequence of increased poverty and inequalities. This causality was a key issue raised both at the SIDS National Consultations and the subsequent Regional Preparatory Meeting hosted by the Government of Jamaica in July 2013 and the Inter-Regional Meeting hosted by the Government of Barbados in last August, respectively. Given that the inclusiveness of development pathway determines the intensity and magnitude of the damages caused by disasters and hazards on people and economies, an unambiguous move towards managing risk, building resilience and strengthening preparedness does not happen by coincidence – it has to be a thoughtful choice that is reflected in the selected development pathway. In its absence, the scientific evidence confirms, that the adverse impacts of climate change will further and seriously have a deletrious effect on development – in this case for the Small Island Developing States.

For instance, Jamaica has experienced an increase in the frequency of natural catastrophic events such as floods, tropical storms, hurricanes, and droughts that have severely impacted the country. Between 2001 and 2010, Jamaica was impacted by 10 disaster events that cost the country estimated at approximately J$111.81 billion.

The threat of climate change impacts on Jamaica should not be taken lightly. A recently concluded international study out of the University of Hawaii on global climatic tipping points indicated that countries in the tropics will feel the first impacts of unprecedented elevated temperatures as soon as the next seven years. Importantly among the cities highlighted as being the first to reach this point was Kingston, Jamaica.

The Executive Board of the IMF recently concluded the Article IV consultation and fourth review through the Extended Arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility with Jamaica. And, much to everyone’s delight, they have found Jamaica’s program implementation under the EFF to be commendable with an impressive primary surplus in a short time. I would submit should not lose time in integrating climate change adaptation and risk management (to strengthen resilience of Jamaica and Jamaicans) in the national development strategy, Vision 2030 Jamaica as it boosts economic growth and employment, places public debt on a sustainable path, restores competitiveness and strengthen the social safety net to build an inclusive and an equitable society. In its absence, the country can easily lose the development gains it has industriously and recently attained.

UNDP is proud to have partnered with the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change to establish a Climate Change Division to take forward this message. The recent Climate Change Policy Framework and Action Plan also demonstrate the Government’s commitment to have an effective strategy to combat climate change at the local and national levels. In supporting the process, UNDP is facilitating the Government’s effort in the formulation of Third National Communication (reporting requirements, strengthening capacities and supporting the integration of climate change considerations into national and sectoral development priorities) and the Biennial Update Report to implement obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon aptly stated, “Climate change affects us all. It is an issue for all people, all businesses, all governments”. And, nationally, Minster Pickersgill has been sharing an equally powerful message “with climate change we must change”. While these and several other laudatory efforts to mainstream climate change in national development priorities in Jamaica are ongoing, there is the conspicuous absence of a very important national actor and stakeholder – the Private Sector.

An active involvement of the Private sector is vital for the humankind to combat the challenge of climate change. It is especially true for Small Island Developing States. Sir Nicholas Stern (Adviser to the UK Government on the Economics of Climate Change and Development from 2005-2007, where he was Head of the Stern Review) termed climate change as a result of the greatest market failure that the world has seen. With the private sector becoming an integral actor in the national development process, it must become a pro-active player in introducing efficiency and taking responsibility for reducing emissions and implementing adaptation initiatives in all areas of Jamaica’s income generating activities.

In fact, the private sector globally is increasingly recognizing the importance of integrating climate change into its business models as vital for corporate survival in a competitive market place. Despite any uncertainties about the scale and magnitude of climate change impacts, a number of institutional investors and private sector corporations now recognize that climate change can influence their competitiveness and profitability at the sector, company and project levels. It is not surprising that the major beverage industries now have a CEO Water Mandate to ensure water stewardship and more than 100 leading international insurance companies have called on governments worldwide to harness risk management techniques and insurance expertise to help the developing world adapt to climate change.

Therefore, for the private sector in Jamaica to be competitive national, regionally and internationally, Jamaican businesses have to move with haste and educate themselves on the significance and impact of climate change while fostering and leveraging new business opportunities including those that would allow them to strengthen value chain links with international trading partners.

UNDP is partnering with the GOJ to facilitate increasing engagement of the private sector through its business practices as well as PPPs, by hosting a Climate Change Learning Conference for private sector leaders next month in Kingston. It would aim to increase awareness on climate change issues amongst the private sector, share knowledge including of best practice business models to catalyze Jamaica’s leadership among the SIDS including by assisting the country in accessing global climate funds. I would encourage and invite the members of the Mandeville Rotary Club to join us in this creative initiative.

The UN System in Jamaica stands ready to collaborate with the government and contribute to creating opportunities that would advance the quality of life of all Jamaicans; we look forward to working together closely with the private sector and philanthropic institutions like Rotary Clubs to find business friendly solutions to climate change challenges.

We recognize that effective access to and implementation of climate financing would require specialized human, institutional and system-wide capacities in all developing countries - especially in the SIDS. UNDP along with other UN Agencies is prepared to contribute towards meeting that demand. The UN system in Jamaica will continue to provide support to the GOJ to strengthen institutional and capacity-building to address climate change.

As Jamaica progresses on its economic recovery and actively participates in the global process to formulate Post 2015 sustainable development goals to determine the future we want for all, it is an opportunity for us to think big and aim high. That is how do we make Jamaica a model island – a low carbon and climate resilient Economy built through participatory processes including PPPs and presents an enviable place of choice to live work, raise families and do business.

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