The call was made yesterday by Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz, who was representing Prime Minister Andrew Holness, at the United Nations Trade Forum in Geneva, Switzerland.
In his address, Minister Vaz, who has responsibility for Land, Environment, Climate Change, and Investment, noted that this year’s Trade Forum held under the theme ‘Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) and Climate Change” has special relevance.
“From the devastation of our sister island, the Bahamas, to the assessed impact of the raging fires in the Amazon, recent events have continued to cement what we have long believed – that climate change remains a grave concern, is a clear and present threat to human societies, and many countries and ecosystems are approaching the limits of their adaptive capacities”, the Minister said.
He noted that SIDS, as net food-importing developing countries, are particularly vulnerable to the impact which climate change is having on agricultural trade, including the trade in fisheries.
“Despite a narrow resource base and a heavy dependence on a few external markets it is essential that SIDS must be integrated into global value-chains. Approaches based on connections to value-chains are increasingly seen as providing a mechanism for achieving economic diversification and the Paris Agreement objectives” Minister Vaz noted.
He added that these would be positive and timely response measures and would serve as mechanisms through which to transfer technology and innovations to SIDS.
Minister Vaz further noted that in order to meet the ambitious targets described in the Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement, it was necessary to ensure that there are no loop holes in international agreements, especially Trade and Economic Agreements.
“These Agreements have typically been negotiated in fora that are separate and independent of climate negotiations”, Minister Vaz noted. He added that “quite often, Trade and Financial Ministries employ mainly economic criteria in their policies and negotiating positions without regard to what their impact may be on carbon emissions. This failure to include the costs associated with the impact of climate change, in discussions on international trade, has resulted in an imbalance in the way emissions have been evaluated”.
Minister Vaz disclosed that every effort is being made to mitigate this imbalance through Jamaica’s consultative mechanism, JAMTrade, as well as CARICOM’s regional negotiating mechanism through the Office of Trade Negotiations (OTN).
The Minister further noted that Jamaica has sought to ensure that climate change considerations are incorporated in policy revisions, including its Trade Policy, and the country is seeking to develop domestic monitoring, reporting and verification systems in order to enhance its transparency processes in carbon accounting.
“Despite our best efforts more remains to be done. With further technical support, knowledge exchange and the involvement of the international community, we are confident that we can collectively improve and transform the participation of SIDS in their traditional and other international markets”, the Minister said.
The United Nations Trade Forum which falls under the umbrella of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development is the last and most important international platform leading up to the United Nations Climate Action Summit and General Assembly which will be held later in September.
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