This article was originally published on the CFR website on April 28, 2015

Claire Bernard, Director of the Sustainable Development and Regional Planning Division at the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), provides insights into how Jamaican institutions have managed national climate change priorities and mobilised the financial resources to support their goals. Part 2 in a two-part series on the Jamaican experience; read Part 1 here. Interview by Anna Hickman, CDKN.

How much domestic government budget are you earmarking for climate change related activities? Is this an ‘easy’ conversation to have in your country – with the public? And how is this viewed in the political sphere?

While all the areas in the examples given above are being pursued, there has been no discussion or agreement on a set percentage or quantum of public spending to go towards either adaptation or mitigation. From an adaptation perspective, much of the ongoing work is being pursued as disaster risk reduction, adaptive agriculture, general resilience building and so on. From the mitigation perspective, the low carbon development approach is coupled with pursuing energy security through diversification of the energy mix.

Reported knowledge of climate change is relatively high (close to 90%) but many still view it in a limited way and do not see themselves as having any major role particularly with respect to mitigation as Jamaica’s emissions are low. While there is acceptance of the social and economic benefits of pursuing a low carbon development strategy, there are some inherent conflicts with the development trajectory that the country has planned, primarily because renewable energy solutions remain expensive.

Regarding the political sphere, local politicians have an appreciable understanding of climate change. In fact, both major political parties have made it a central plank of their work consistent with its prioritisation under the National Development Plan. Members of the Houses of Parliament have been specifically targeted in public education and awareness programmes and been given climate data to support their work.

Do you consider that the availability of climate finance is a driver for climate compatible development strategies and plans or the other way around?

If climate change issues are to be mainstreamed, we should argue that development strategies and plans must consider and plan for the implications of climate change as a matter of course. This way we truly pursue sustainable development. If on the other hand, climate finance is the driver for climate compatible development, the effort will be compartmentalised and the type of holistic development to which we aspire will be limited to the extent that dedicated resources are available.