23 Mar 2016 Press release Water

Energy Transformation Is Jamaica's Key to Inclusive Green Economy, UNEP Says

Kingston, 22 March 2016 - 90 per cent of Jamaica's energy currently comes from imported petroleum, leaving the country vulnerable to external shocks. Improving energy efficiency and increasing the supply of renewable energy are vital to greening Jamaica's economy and making it more resilient, according to two new studies released Tuesday.

The Green Economy Scoping Study for Jamaica focuses on greening of the five key economic sectors: agriculture, tourism, construction, energy and water and sewerage, which account for more than 22 per cent of the country's GDP and more than 33 per cent of its labour force.

In May, countries will meet in Nairobi for UNEA 2 – the world's de facto "Parliament for the Environment" – to discuss how the United Nations Environment Programme can deliver on the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Finding ways to improve access to renewable energy will be key to ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all – a key goal of the 2030 Agenda.

The Vision 2030: Jamaica and Green Economy highlights the linkages between Jamaica's existing national long-term development plan and inclusive green economy.

Daryl Vaz, Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation of Jamaica said: "In keeping with the global movement towards a green economy, Jamaica's Study demonstrates that the greening of economies is a new engine of growth; that it is a net generator of decent jobs, which is a vital strategy for the elimination of persistent poverty.

"The report also seeks to motivate policy makers to create the enabling conditions for increased investments in a transition to a green economy," he added. "Notably, it reiterates the need for public private partnerships."

Leo Heileman, UNEP Regional Director and Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean said: "Jamaica is well positioned to rapidly advance to a low-carbon economy, there is strong leadership from both the government and the private sector with many innovative initiatives happening on the ground, and many key resources already in place."

The two studies recommend a series of policies that can improve resource efficiency and adaptability to climate change, create jobs, and attract investment across the economy, spearheading the transition from dependence to resilience.

For example, agriculture, which employs nearly 20 per cent of the population, could become more profitable and resilient to climate change through improving and diversifying water and energy supply, investing in research and adopting sustainable practices.

The studies also outline how Jamaica's tourism industry, which accounts for 40 per cent of the country's foreign exchange earnings, could benefit from green policies. Heavily dependent on environmental quality, the tourism sector could increase profitability and boost the distribution of benefits by enhancing energy and water efficiency and supporting small, medium and micro enterprises.

Jamaica has an abundant supply of uncontaminated freshwater. However, pumping large amounts of water across the country's hilly terrain requires a large amount of energy. The National Water Commission (NWC) is the single largest customer of the principal energy supplier and energy costs account for approximately 35 per cent of its operating costs.

The studies recommend reducing this energy demand while increasing access to water by developing local catchment facilities, increasing water efficiency, and developing extensive waste water recycling.

The recommendations build on Jamaica's existing policies and are designed to respond to the fiscal and social conditions in the country. The studies also highlight leadership from the private sector and civil society.

The two reports were presented during the Green Economy: A Tool for Sustainable Development meeting, hosted by the Government of Jamaica, with support from UNEP, through a European Union funded project Advancing Caribbean States' Sustainable Development Through Green Economy (ACSSD-GE).

At the launch, Minister Daryl Vaz was accompanied by Denis Lowe, the Minister of the Environment and Drainage of Barbados; Leo Heileman, UNEP Director and Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, Jesus Baguena, Head of Cooperation of the European Union in Jamaica; Bruno Pouezat, United Nations Resident Representative to Jamaica, and Vincent Sweeney, UNEP Sub-Regional Director for the Caribbean.

For more information please contact María Amparo Lasso, UNEP Regional Communications Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, [email protected], (+507) 68523459. About UNEA In May, hundreds of key decision makers, businesses and representatives of intergovernmental organizations and civil society will gather in Nairobi for UNEA-2 at the United Nations Environment Programme headquarters in Nairobi. The assembly will be one of the first major meetings since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement. The resolutions passed at UNEA-2 will set the stage for early action on implementing the 2030 Agenda, and drive the world towards a better, more just future.