Mr Rohan Richards
Director, Environmental Management Division
Ministry of Local Government and Environment of Jamaica
at the 14th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development
Opening and General Statement
1 May 2006
Jamaica welcomes the report of the Secretary General on the Overview of progress in the implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, as well as on the Mauritius Strategy, contained in document E/CN.17/2006/2.
As we reflect on the achievements of the past number of years, most experts agree that the progress towards the goals as enumerated under Agenda 21, the BPOA and other internationally agreed development targets is far from satisfactory especially for some developing countries.
The Secretary-General’s Report has noted that only 36% of the 191 states members of the UN have met the JPOI goal of formulating and elaborating and further implementing national sustainable development strategies. Indeed, implementation reviews have shown that in many areas, natural resources are being more depleted and social conditions are worsening. It is discouraging to note that many developing countries are not on track to achieving poverty reduction goals and that half of the developing world lives without improved sanitation. It is for this reason that the issue of resources - and the adequate provision thereof – remains critical to providing developing countries with a platform to achieve sustainable development. I will return to this issue in subsequent paragraphs.
One reason for the slow progress in implementation is that in our general approach we have often tended to treat environment and development in an isolated manner, not taking critical note of the crosscutting issues. At this stage, we should be able to realize the critical interdependent and mutually reinforcing linkages between the social, economic, environmental and governance pillars of sustainable development and achieve progress in implementing, at national levels, these strategically focused international blueprints for improvement in the lives of our peoples.
Various goals and targets have resulted from recent international conferences, including the MDGs and the JPOI and the Latin American and Caribbean Initiative. As a small island developing State, the issues for action identified in the MSI in particular climate change, coastal resources, energy, natural resources and biodiversity, natural and man-made disasters, and land degradation remain priorities for implementation especially as it regards the issue of resilience.
In this regard, Jamaica aligns itself with the statement by AOSIS. In order to achieve sustainable development, and protect our common future we must practice sustainable production and consumption patterns, as clearly articulated in Agenda 21 and the JPOI.
Small Island Developing States like Jamaica continue to face formidable challenges in effectively advancing the goals of sustainable development. While we have made some progress, we are constrained by the lack of capacity to address all the complex development issues. What we need most is the support of the international community in building capacity - whether it is financial, human or institutional – in order to ensure the implementation of the agreed goals and objectives of the outcomes which we are the subject of our deliberations.
Jamaica notes with interest section D of the Secretary-General’s Report dealing with natural disaster risk reduction and mitigation. It is particularly important for SIDS, many of whom are located among the most vulnerable regions in the world and for whom integrating hazard mitigation into policies, programmes and plans at the national and community levels is a priority. We believe greater support can be given to such an approach through the provision of special reinsurance arrangements for SIDS’.
Jamaica’s economy, social and physical assets have on numerous occasions been negatively impacted by natural and environmental disasters. The increased frequency and intensity of tropical storms (especially the very active 2005 hurricane season) makes this an issue of particular concern given the tremendous resources which have to be devoted to responding to such disasters, resulting in the derailment of planned Government activities on social and economic programmes from which crucial funding sometimes has to be diverted. Despite such challenges, the integration of disaster risk reduction and hazard mitigation into the development approval process is something to which we remain fully committed.
One of the key constraints to implementation is the lack of access to adequate financial resources, capacity, technology and political support. The JPOI emphasizes that "the internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration and Agenda 21, as well as in the Plan of Action, will require significant increases in the flow of financial resources, in particular to developing countries, to support the implementation of national policies and programs developed by them.” The implementation course, that we have chosen, calls for an urgent exploration of effective, durable reliable and measurable means of implementation for developing countries. Undoubtedly, our efforts will need to be supplemented by effective technical and financial support from the international community. What is urgently required, therefore, is focused action to support programmes and projects aimed at advancing this objective.
In concluding, Jamaica remains committed to working with the international community in advancing the sustainable agenda. We welcome opportunities to forge such relationships and look forward to working with the international community in this regard.
Thematic Discussion: Improving Access to reliable, affordable, economically viable, socially acceptable and environmentally sound energy services
2 May 2006
One of the goals of the Jamaica Energy Policy is ensuring that the poor and vulnerable in society are provided with affordable energy, including those in deep rural Jamaica. In this regard, under the Rural Electrification Programme, the task of which was to bring electricity to all rural communities throughout the island there has been significant contribution to the improved standard of living of rural householders and stimulated economic activity.
The programme has also helped stem the migration from rural areas to the cities. Up to March 2005, 4,800 km of electrical distribution pole line have been extended, and over 69,000 houses wired. This has raised the percentage of electrification from around 50% when the programme started to 90% today. Based on surveys that have been done in the fields, it is estimated that another 15,600 houses are left to be wired and another 860 km of pole line to be built to give these households access. Under the REP, the government provided homeowners with a loan a no interest cost with repayment required over a 48-month period. As part of the project also, some homes were fitted with photovoltaic systems.
As an extension of the REP, an Urban Electricity Regularization Programme (UERP) was established to assist residents in the inner-city areas to regularize their house wiring and to access electricity legally. Currently an amnesty has been granted by the local electricity provider for householders that are illegally connected, to go in and regularize their connections without facing sanctions. To date there has been some success.
Challenges include: 1) Lack of finance for rural energy programmes and 2) financing to maintain these programmes.
Regional Discussions of Latin America and the Caribbean
3 May 2006
Thematic Discussions: Integrated Approach to addressing air pollution and atmospheric problems
4 May 2006
Mr. Chairman, my brief intervention is to offer constraints from a SIDS perspective on this issue in the thematic cluster because air pollution has unique and localized characteristics for SIDS.
1. Air pollution and its attendant problems are largely a by-product of the mining and manufacturing as well as tourism and transportation sectors. However, air pollution is also associated with the waste management in particular the burning of solid wastes generated from households. This is partially due to a lack of awareness on the part of the citizenry but often is due to lack of infrastructure for municipal collection and disposal of these wastes. This is a severe resource constraint. The burning of plastics especially poses a significant health threat to inhabitants of SIDS. With limited space for solid waste disposal, SIDS are often faced with the option of burning solid waste to reduce volume.
2. The inadequate combustion of hospital waste containing toxic compounds is a significant problem. Incinerators and other such technologies are very expensive.
3. There is an urgent need for the transfer of technologies that will improve disposal of solid wastes, technologies that promote recycling etc. There needs to be new arrangements for transferring technology to SIDS to assist us in developing alternative waste management practices to avoid burning.
4. Following on that, there is also a lack of research infrastructure and skills.
5. For us, access to pollution monitoring systems is also a constraint so that the availability of data to inform policy and decision making is a problem
6. In the Caribbean sub-region, due to liberalization of motor vehicle policies, there have been a large number of used and reconditioned vehicles being imported, which contributes to our air pollution problems levels. The essential problem is that often these vehicles are exported from developed countries when the catalytic converter goes bad and these vehicles can no longer meet the standards in their own countries. For Jamaica, we have a policy of not importing cars over 4 years old into the country.
7. In summary, lack of capacity and finance, poor and inefficient household energy-use practices, unsustainable production and consumption practices particularly in transport and industry, lack of public awareness as well as barriers to access to environmentally sound technologies are obstacles to achieving good air quality for SIDS.
8. Among Jamaica’s policy responses to these barriers have been:
i. The development of air quality regulations
ii. The complete phasing out of leaded gasoline.
iii. The Introduction of a pilot project to replace the MTBE octane enhancer with ethanol. Under this project, the gasoline is mixed with 5% ethanol and is marketed as E10. The goal is to achieve a 90%: 10% petroleum: ethanol mix by 2007. This will result in overall lower emissions and more fuel efficiency.
iv. The phasing out of ODS as a means of implementing the Montreal Protocol and will soon promulgate an Ozone Act.
In concluding, we believe that existing intergovernmental initiatives need to be strengthened and widened in scope in order to address issues of concerns with respect air pollution, and the promotion of clean technologies and development, as well as trade in sustainable and renewable energy resources and technologies. The successes of the Montreal Protocol must be replicated especially with respect to its Multilateral Fund.