Jamaica leads revolution in the face of climate change
Initiatives such as the creation of the World Center for Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management and the Climatically Intelligent Accelerator of the Caribbean have put the Caribbean destination at the forefront
Climate change is no longer a future event for tourism because it is altering the decisions of today's tourists. The world saw the immediate impact of climate change most recently in 2017, when Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused severe destruction on several islands. Because tourism is one of the main economic engines of the Caribbean and most tourist activities focus on experiencing its natural beauty, the devastation urged Jamaica to take measures to strengthen resilience in the region, beginning with the Center for Crisis Management and World Tourism Resilience, and an agricultural sector that would be climate resilient.
"The economic growth of tourism and improvements in the quality of life in Caribbean destinations will depend on our strong commitment to take action on global issues such as climate change and global warming," said Donovan White, Director of Tourism of Jamaica. "Our efforts highlight Jamaica as the leader of the revolution in the face of climate change in the Caribbean and will ensure that travelers continue to make Jamaica the number one choice worldwide."
Even before the 2017 hurricanes, Jamaica was already working to create a sustainable future, modernizing the network to improve energy independence and prepare better to face the impact of destructive storms. In 2004, Jamaica opened the Wigton wind farm, the largest English-speaking Caribbean wind farm. This farm provides power to more than 55,000 surrounding homes with a hybrid energy storage system that uses a steering wheel and a battery. Jamaica now hopes to build offshore wind farms to generate 50% of all energy as part of its national target using renewable sources, which also benefit the tourism industry and the accommodation sector.
Jamaica also attaches great importance to the reconstruction of a sustainable agricultural sector. Healthy crops require quality land, which can be severely affected by droughts, floods and storms. There is great potential to restore degraded lands through practices such as organic agriculture, managed grazing and agroforestry. Durga Den, an organic farm in Jamaica, works in partnership with the hotel industry using techniques of regenerative agriculture, reforestation and training in these practices.
To further promote a climate-smart economy, the World Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Center, a unique resource of its kind in the Caribbean, was developed at the University of the West Indies. First announced during the World Conference on Sustainable Tourism of the World Tourism Organization of the United Nations (UNWTO) in Jamaica in November 2017, the Center was inaugurated in January 2019 with the mission of carrying out relevant research and analysis for policies on preparedness and crises in destinations.
In addition, the Caribbean Climate Smart Accelerator - the Caribbean Climate Smart Accelerator (CCSA) launched in Jamaica in August 2018, aims to make the Caribbean the first climate-smart zone in the world with the implementation of resilience solutions , renewable energy, development of sustainable cities, oceans and transport. Once the climate-smart zone is established, the Caribbean will not only be tailored for the future, it will also create economic growth, social inclusion and job creation.