NOTING what it describes as an “alarming indifference” among Jamaicans to the effects of climate change, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) is partnering with PANOS Caribbean’s Voices for Climate Change Education Initiative to raise awareness of adaptive strategies in four communities.
The eight-month project, which was launched at the end of January, is being implemented in Rocky Point and Lionel Town in Clarendon, Ridge Red Bank in St Elizabeth, and White House in St Ann. It uses popular local artistes and performers to spread messages about climate change in song and performing arts to stir interest and drive behaviour change.
“This project is focused on increasing the knowledge of climate-smart practices within these communities,” said Indi Mclymont-Lafayette, communications specialist for the Adaptation Programme and Financing Mechanism at PIOJ.
“These communities have already started implementing adaptive strategies that address climate vulnerability, and we want to foster sharing and transfer of knowledge among them.”
The PIOJ added: “Climate change is not a distant threat to Jamaicans. It has a daily presence and often affects the livelihoods of those working in tourism, agriculture and fishing. Still, there is an alarming indifference to its effects.”
Panos mobilises artists from the four selected communities to join national singers and performers in a multi-part workshop designed to help them understand climate change and effectively craft appropriate messages. The artists then visit the communities to see the climate change impacts first-hand and the communities’ responses, after which they perform in school and community concerts, six of which are scheduled through August 2019.
The Voices for Climate Change Education campaign is part of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience–Climate Data Project, a broader public education programme from the PIOJ.
“This initiative will harness and capture the power of popular music and culture to transmit climate change messages in ways that can help to build community resilience,” said Nicole Brown, director of PANOS Caribbean.
The campaign will also encourage students from targeted communities to craft creative climate change adaptation messages in 60-second videos for prizes for the best productions. In addition, there is a short story competition for students and a reading initiative that will introduce young readers to literature on climate change.
“This project will improve the quality and use of climate related data for effective planning and action at all levels,” said Lehome Johnson, project manager of the Climate Data Project.
“This will allow Jamaicans to have access to quality climate and weather information that will help us to make climate smart decisions,” he added.