The Government of Jamaica is set to conduct coastal assessment studies including multi-hazard assessments of eight priority coastal areas across the island.
The studies, to be undertaken over two years by consulting firm Smith Warner International, will provide an understanding of the vulnerabilities and risks associated with the built and natural environments, to identify solutions geared towards climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.
A sum of $132.6 million is being provided by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) under the Jamaica Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project (JDVRP) for the assessments. Representatives of JSIF and Smith Warner signed the contract for the undertaking at JSIF’s offices in Kingston on Thursday (September 19).
Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, under which JSIF falls, Hon. Mike Henry, said that the studies are important, given Jamaica’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, with approximately 80 percent of economic activity taking place along the coast.
He said that Jamaica could face severe social and economic disruption from sea-level rise, which will threaten 20 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
“The studies will help to identify solutions, which will guide climate change and risk reduction…. They will help us to understand where we are vulnerable and help us to know how we are vulnerable, and the contract relates to identifying that,” he noted.
Managing Director of JSIF, Omar Sweeney, said that coming out of the assessments, the Government will be better able to understand, assess and plan for risks associated with climate change.
For his part, Managing Director, Smith Warner International, Jamel Banton, said that the eight coastal towns covered under the studies are some of the most vulnerable in the island.
He said Jamaica’s coastal assessment studies “will cover all the hazards that could have great impact –landslides, flooding from rivers, storm surge, and coastal erosion”.