Before & After Paris

Marking Milestones of Climate Action in the years before and after the Paris Agreement

June 21, 2022
beekeeper tending to bees in Cockpit Country

Christina Sinclair a new generation of beekeepers makes a sustainable living that is climate friendly. Support through the UNDP-implemented GEF Small Grants Programme has made a difference to local biodiversity while improving incomes.

UNDP MCO in Jamaica/Talk Up Yout

Jamaica’s instrument of accession to the Paris Agreement was lifted high for all to see at an ‘Uncut Conversations’ event on Climate Change five years ago, in April 2017. The room erupted in applause.

This was a milestone of triumph and solemnity: On the one hand, heralding an important juncture in local contributions to global action against rising temperatures; on the other, a sobering reminder of how global warming disproportionately impacts Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like Jamaica.

As proud sponsor of the  ‘Uncut’ event, an annual exchange staged in preparation for Conferences of the Parties (COPs),  the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) joined with the Government of Jamaica in underscoring the solemnity of the moment and the weight of the challenge confronting signatories to the Paris Agreement.   

UNDP’s partnerships in Climate Action contend with an urgent global crisis with potentially catastrophic impact: Greenhouse Gas emissions are warming the earth, causing Climate Change and rising sea levels. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Caribbean like Jamaica contribute less than 1% to GHGs but remain perilously on the frontlines of the impacts – floods, drought, storm surges and coastal erosion to name a few. Livelihoods, infrastructure, towns and cities are at risk. It is rightly called the existential threat of our lifetime.

As one of the primary actors on Climate Change in the United Nations, UNDP’s partnership with the Government and people of Jamaica confronts this existential threat to sustainable development through nature-based solutions to development and climate resilient programming. UNDP’s partnership with Jamaica spans decades, focused primarily on Climate Change adaptation and mitigation through policy formulation, research and international reporting commitments, as well as community action and institutional strengthening. 

UNDP’s work in Climate Change constitutes the lion’s share of its portfolio in Jamaica – more than 40% – as it seeks to fulfil its global mission to end poverty, inequality and climate change.

Policy & Institutional Strengthening

Over a span of decades, robust and consistent policy action has been an important output of UNDP’s Climate Change portfolio. For example, support for Jamaica’s preparation of its National Communications and Biennial Update Reports has been ongoing since 1994. These reports measure national climate action progress under the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change, including the Paris Agreement and provide strategic direction for implementation of Jamaica’s international obligations. 

UNDP’s work in Climate Change constitutes the lion’s share of its portfolio in Jamaica – more than 40% – as it seeks to fulfil its global mission to end poverty, inequality and climate change.

Climate adaptation and mitigation work supported by UNDP has also included coral erf restoration and support for the establishment of fishing sanctuaries

Oracabessa Bay Marine Trust

Three years before Jamaica ratified the Paris Agreement, UNDP provided technical support to the establishment of Jamaica’s Climate Change Division (CCD). At the time, extensive research conducted by UNDP concluded that an effective national climate change response requires an established coordination process, and mechanisms including accountabilities with possible support from technical working groups. Today, the Division, birthed from this process, is highly respected and globally recognized for leading Jamaica's transformational change towards a climate-resilient society. 

In the years since its establishment, UNDP’s Climate Action portfolio has been implemented primarily in collaboration with the CCD and capacity building has been an important part of UNDP’s support. A noteworthy example is Climate Proofing Training for government policy analysts financed by UNDP. The goal was to strengthen the integration of Climate Change risks, opportunities and challenges into national policies and plans, consistent with ongoing efforts to implement the national Climate Change Policy Framework and Action Plan.  The Climate Proofing workshop was designed to build national capacity for not only integrating climate change adaptation into policy development but to start the process for adaptation of a handbook to guide policy analysts in the methodologies for climate-proofing of policies for Jamaica.

Mainstreaming Climate Change in Dialogue & Local Actions

UNDP has also supported Jamaica to expand its national dialogue on Climate Change starting with the popular Voices for Climate Change project in 2013 which mobilized major local artistes for a gripping song and video on Climate Change. In continuation of the dialogue and public education process, UNDP has supported pre and post Conference of Parties (COP) consultations, the CCD’s Uncut Conversation series on Climate Change and Youth dialogues on Climate Change. 

Climate Change adaptation and mitigation work at the community levels has been financed by the UNDP-implemented GEF Small Grants Programme in partnership with community based and civil society organizations. By 2021 GEF SGP had financed more than 130 projects benefitting 70 local NGOs and CBOs, representing more than US$4 Million in grant funding since it began operating in Jamaica in 2005.
Hand in hand with communities, potable water has been made available to thousands; watersheds have been restored; denuded areas reforested; coral reefs brought back to life, and renewable energy technologies advanced.

In pursuit of a green economy model, the UNDP-implemented GEF SGP has supported and advanced sustainable livelihoods like beekeeping, eco tour guiding, recycling and LED bulb assembly. As a result, hundreds are now generating income for their families while preserving the environment.    

Once a trainee in the LED technology training programme, Majesty Gardens resident Cary Grant is now an instructor and entrepreneur. “The experience was great … The fact that I was once an inner-city youth … know how the rough life was. By knowing this technology, it took me to a level where I’m actually working now, to the point where I can sustain myself,” he confessed.
With funding from the government of Japan – UNDP, Climate Change Division and Jamaica 4H took practical steps to integrate climate change adaptation and mitigation into drought-hit communities through the Japan Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (JCCCP). Water storage tanks, conveyance systems and drip irrigation hoses were donated to 70 training institutions. Students, unattached youth and prisoners learned climate-smart techniques. 

As a result, an additional 65,800 gallons of water became available to vulnerable communities; 101,732 persons benefitted. School and small farm harvests increased exponentially, and profits improved. Alicia Patterson, Senior Teacher and 4H Club Leader at Medina Primary in Manchester is one of many teachers praising the water harvesting and irrigation system for boosting the school farm harvest. "As a result, we have increased revenue by 90%", she reports. They pour the income back into lunches for students and their Jamaica 4H Club. "We sell much of our produce, sell to the school canteen, give students and teachers to take home, and make gift packages for visitors”, she explains.

JCCCP and GEF SGP combined have expanded water storage capacity by more than 2.2 million gallons to 128 communities in Jamaica over a seven-year period through extensive water harvesting projects to underserved communities. The combined water supply has given birth to new ventures in medicinal plants and aquaponics; expanded agroforests, crops and livestock for food security; facilitated the reopening of schools; ensured that businesses and farms could reopen or expand.

UNDP, with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has heavily invested in renewable energy at the national and community levels to cut the volume of greenhouse gases like carbon and to generate savings for local and economic growth.
Solar energy at May Pen Hospital, Jamaica

Solar energy installed at May Pen Hospital, one of three hospitals solarised under a GEF funded project

UNDP/Tenny Daley

Advancing Jamaica’s Renewable Energy Transition

With the support of donor partners, UNDP, with funding fom the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has heavily invested in renewable energy at the national and community levels to cut the volume of greenhouse gases like carbon and to generate savings for local and economic growth. One major national project funded by the Global Environment Facility helped Jamaica trade fossil fuels for sun rays and incandescent lighting for LEDs. Through this major pilot, the Ministry of Science Energy and Technology, Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Development Bank of Jamaica with support from UNDP retrofitted six hospitals with LED bulbs and three hospitals with grid-tied solar photovoltaic systems. The project also trained staff and laid the groundwork for private sector-led investments in renewables. Early results indicated a 17.6% average decline in energy bills at just three of the six LED-retrofitted hospitals within 3 months of installation. The LED and solar installations are projected to reduce the public health sector energy bill by 22% annually. 

The push for renewables at the community level through the UNDP-implemented GEF SGP has focused on solar Photovoltaic systems and notably, training in basic LED technology, Solar technology, LED Assembly and Design. Projects in Crooked River, Richmond Park. Mt Airey, Rocky Point, Majesty Gardens have trained dozens and taken key segments of community spaces, farm and schooling operations off the grid. A major transnational project spearheaded by GEF SGP Jamaica in Jamaica, Grenada and Barbados also trained a cohort of 458 young people, many of whom are working in the field. 

“Jamaica has taken bold steps on its journey to battle the impacts of Climate Change and remains a fearless voice in international advocacy circles on the challenges facing vulnerable SIDS,” UNDP Resident Representative Denise E Antonio states. “We are confident that there are bolder steps to be taken, in compliance with provisions of international commitments and in contemplating a new and enduring green economy model that serves both people and planet now and for the future. The Multi Country Office stands with the government and people of Jamaica on this important journey”, she says. 
At last count, UNDP has invested USD 3.6 billion in 840 environment projects globally to ensure the heart of national development priorities contain the spirit and intent of the Paris Agreement and all other environmental agreements. Five years after Jamaica ratified this important Agreement, UNDP remains committed to the critical cause of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius to stay alive.  Billions of people across the earth, depending on food, shelter, clean air, education and opportunities, need governments, development partners, civil society and private sector united in partnership to get it right.