Arun Kashyap: Harvest the Future International SymposiumJun 15, 2015
Harvest the Future International Symposium
Montego Bay, June 14-17, 2015.
Presented by Dr. Arun Kashyap
UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative
June 15, 2015
Greetings and Acknowledgements:
• Honourable Luther Buchanan, Minster of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security;
• Honourable Ian Hayles, Minister of State, Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change;
• Hon. Fresner Dorcin, Minister of Agriculture. Natural Resources and Rural Development, Haiti
• Dr. Linda Pfeiffer, President and CEO at INMED Partnerships for Children;
• Denise Herbol, USAID Jamaica;
• Mrs. Therese Turner-Jones, Country Representative of the Inter-American Development Bank, Jamaica;
• Mr Colin Bullock, Director General, PIOJ;
• Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
A very good morning to you all. It is a pleasure for me to be here today and share some thoughts with you at this very interesting and innovative symposium - ‘Harvest the Future’, which examines climate smart agricultural options for small scale producers. It is very timely and relevant as it brings together a diversity of experts and stakeholders in various fields to generate new knowledge and engender new and creative partnerships to enhance climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies to improve food security.
UNDP’s 2007 Human Development Report described Climate Change as the defining human development issue of our generation. It went on to underscore the pressing need for the member states to establish partnerships across any real or perceived physical, social, economic, political or cultural barriers because of the enormous threat to humanity which climate change poses.
Within this brief time, climate change issue now has taken on an even greater urgency because we now recognize that climate change is not a far-off problem. It is occurring now; and it is having very real consequences on people’s lives and livelihoods. As Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon mentioned at the launch of 4th IPCC Climate Assessment Report, “Science has spoken, there is no ambiguity in their message. Leaders must act. Time is not on our side.”
The prior UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, in his Millennium Report to the General Assembly had emphasized that “Freedom from want, freedom from fear and the freedom of future generations to sustain their lives on this planet” are the three grand global challenges for the 21st Century. The seriousness of the challenge is further magnified with the ongoing impacts of the climate change.
The Caribbean region must confront its challenges creatively. As MICs with high indebtedness and inequalities, heavy reliance on natural resources and tourism, dependence on fossil fuels for expensive energy services, vulnerabilities to droughts, and natural hazards and disasters, and with growing risks of climate change, the islands have to innovate to strengthen resilience. The choice for the region to move to green economies is not only attractive, it is a necessity.
Climate change is a major threat to sustainable livelihoods and food security in Jamaica. Agriculture plays a significant role in the Jamaican economy, contributing approximately 6.6 percent to GDP and employing almost 20 percent of the labour force. Additionally, the country suffered a major drought in 2014 that affected about 18,000 farmers and caused nearly US$10 million in damage and loss to the agricultural sector. This is only the beginning; research from UWI Climate Studies Group suggests that rainfall across the region could be reduced by up to 40 percent between May and November by 2050. The severity of the problem increases manifold when we observe that between 2001 and 2012, the cost to the economy from the natural disasters (mainly hurricanes) affecting Jamaica amounted to over US$1 billion with 65 lives being lost. Not surprisingly, the small farmers at the recent public dialogue organized by the French Embassy to enhance Jamaica’s preparedness for COP 21 in Paris, requested assistance for knowledge of good practices – what works - that could assist them to deal with the adverse impacts of climate change.
The adverse impacts of climate change are causing hardships to all and especially to the poor and the vulnerable communities. The recent UN Conference on SIDS reaffirmed the importance of reducing inequalities and the special vulnerabilities and challenges of Small Island States in relation to climate change and underscored the need to work in an integrated manner and through partnerships.
We have few options to deal with the climate issue, viz., mitigate by reducing the pressures put on the climate through human generated emissions; adapt to the changes in environment resulting from those emissions; or suffer. And, in words of John Holdren, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director, the tradeoffs are what combination of emission reduction, adaptation, and suffering we’re going choose because irrespective of the quanta of emissions reduced, much climate change is going to occur. And, adaptation to climate change is the most underinvested subject today in both research and institution building. And, as we know the vulnerable communities and small island developing states will suffer from the adverse impacts of climate change given that there will be consequences that cannot be prevented or adapted to. It is therefore essential to ensure that our strategy to deal with climate change includes a viable “insurance policy” to help those who are in economic conditions or in sectors of work that suffer disproportionate harm. In the negotiators’ language it is called decision on dealing with loss and damage to pay for the benefits the rest of us have already received and are receiving from the reckless release of GHGs to the atmosphere.
Jamaica is at the forefront of SIDS in taking proactive efforts to combat climate change. It is not surprising that the Climate Change Division and the Ministry of Water Land, Environment and CC has been nominated Jamaica’s focal point to the Green Climate Fund. All these are significant and representative steps for Jamaica as it continues to make its climate change policy operational to make Jamaicans more resilient to climate change.
I would submit that for small island developing states like Jamaica, the focus of its strategy to combat climate change should predominantly be on building effective adaptation capabilities and on developing a viable insurance policy to assist the vulnerable communities including farmers who are most impacted by its adverse impacts. The mitigation strategies must be developed in an adaptation framework that while reducing emissions and underscoring a green economy to create jobs, also strengthens adaptive capacities and builds resilience.
As we strive to build knowledge of successful adaptation practices and adaptive capacities at the human, institutional and system-wide levels, it is increasingly becoming clear no one sector can do everything. An important role of the Government is to set the playing field to ensure that there is culpability in rules faced by different actors. And, it is vital to engage both civil society and the private sector to learn from and complement their different forms of innovation, and benefit from their ability to harness particular kinds of social, financial and expertise resources with the government playing a facilitating and enabling role among them. Such partnerships and alliances are the wave of the future in helping governments to pursue their development priorities and in eliciting the engagement of all those in a position to help make a difference.
Knowledge accumulation is a function of steady investments through partnerships in science education and in improving policy environment that would catalyze and foster innovations and therefore research and development in strengthening adaptation. The IPCC too highlights the importance of strategic partnerships stating that successful adaptation not only depends on governments, but also on the active and sustained engagement of stakeholders including national, regional, multilateral and international organizations, the public and private sectors, civil society and other relevant stakeholders, as well as effective management of knowledge.
The private sector worldwide is progressively recognizing the importance of integrating climate change into its business models as vital for corporate survival in a competitive market place. Increasing 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. I would submit that in order for Jamaica to make a significant impact in addressing climate change, the private sector would need to be actively involved. It can play a greater role in climate change dialogue at the national and international levels, support the government in accessing climate finance through public private partnerships; and deepen investments in adaptation and mitigation business ventures and initiatives.
As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon states, “Saving our Planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth – these are one and the same fight.” It is not surprising that UN General Assembly’s efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goals – that will replace the Millennium Development Goals at the end of 2015 – have concerns and impacts of climate change running right through them. The United Nations System recognizes the key role of partnerships in our efforts to achieve equitable development and therefore in tackling climate change challenges.
The new development agenda including climate change adaptation and mitigation will therefore require a new paradigm for partnerships that involves multiple actors such as private sector, public sector, civil society, the donor community and academia. Of increasing importance will be strategic alliances between the public and private sectors. There is the need to work in an integrated manner by linking economic development and social development with the need to uphold environmental integrity through synergistic partnerships including North-South and South-South Cooperation.
UNDP has been working closely with the Government of Jamaica on issues related to climate change and sustainable development. It will continue to support Jamaica in identifying potential areas of collaboration and work with International Development Partners to address collectively the impact of climate change through a concerted effort from all. Partnerships and collaborative and integrated efforts are critical to mobilize resources, catalyse action, and make strides to address the national challenges and reap the development benefits for all.
In the words of the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon “Our mission is to build a better world. To leave no one behind. To stand for the poorest and the most vulnerable in the name of global peace and social justice.” The UN in Jamaica will continue to spare no efforts in translating this message into on-the-ground reality and contribute to the promise of Vision 2030 Jamaica by working with the Government in its efforts to implement SAMOA Pathway and advance sustainable development Goals. I thank you.