Address of the UNDP Resident Representative on the launch of the First National Workshop on Assessing National Capacity for Environmental Management[1].

 

Honorable Minister Peart, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The issue of building capacity for development has received a lot of attention in development circles. UNDP looks at capacity at three levels, the capacity of individuals within an institution, the capacity of institutions and the capacity at the systemic level within which institutions act. This third level often involves policy and legal frameworks and the cross cutting issues of awareness and education.

Capacity development builds on and harnesses rather than replaces indigenous capacity. It entails acquiring individual skills, institutional capacities and social capital; and then creating opportunities to put these skills and capital to use. Capacity development involves promoting learning; creating enabling environments; empowering; integrating cultures; and orienting personal and societal behaviour. To be sustainable, national capacity should be developed not only within the public sector, but also within other segments of society, particularly amongst civil society and the private sector.

The NCSA project is part of the Capacity Development Initiative. The CDI takes place around the world and particularly in SIDS to build frameworks and strategies for sustainable development. Supported by the Global Environment Facility, there are NCSAs taking place in over 100 countries.

 

The NCSA will help Jamaica to assess its capacity to carry out important environmental and sustainable development activities and will support actions that address capacity issues. The outputs of this project will be action plans and a Sustainable Development Strategy; these documents will outline solutions and help mobilize resources to move Jamaica forward.

The NCSA project originally started with the objective of assessing Jamaicas capacity to implement the three conventions that emerged from the 1992 Rio Conference, these were: the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention to Combat Desertification, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. We are very pleased that the Government of Jamaica has committed funds to expand the scope of the project to look at wider issues related to implementing sustainable development strategies. The Government of Jamaica (GOJ) began work on its sustainable development agenda in 1994 when it established the Sustainable Development Council of Jamaica (SDC-J). After several years, however, it became apparent that the role and structure of the SDC-J should be reevaluated. This project will assist the government to evaluate the progress so far and determine where the focal point of Sustainable Development may rest in the future.

While elements of a sustainable development strategy are certainly in place, an overarching Sustainable Development Strategy for Jamaica is yet to be explicitly formulated. There are many challenges to attaining this goal including:

        Limited awareness among all levels of the society of the relevance of SD to daily life and country development. This has led to limited participation by the public and lack of commitment to SD processes.

        Limited national ownership of SD strategies in part due to limited capacity to engage and maintain SD processes; and

        A fragmented approach to sustainable development by both government agencies and development agencies. There is need for greater harmonization of programmes by both Government and Development Partners.

Jamaicas report to the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg in 2002, partially addressed some of these issues and suggested the following actions.

        Increase investment in public and formal education.

        Create an over-arching vision and strategy for sustainable development.

        Increase collaboration between ministries and agencies of government and reform the modes of decision-making and programme and policy implementation.

        Integrate the environmental, economic and social facets of decision-making, and

        Broaden the definition of Capacity Building for Development to include secondments, exposure, networking and application of case studies to guide future work.

 

The Project will highlight some of the best ways to carry out these actions. The NCSA will not only address capacity issues related to international obligations but will assist the government to develop a National Sustainable Development Strategy for Jamaica. This document will provide a path along which the country should travel in its efforts to achieve sustainable development.

As Jamaica seeks to make sustainable development work, NEPA and the Government will have to overcome challenges very similar to other Small Island Developing States and countries in Latin America. In many of these countries, environmental norms and behaviors are recently evolved, undeveloped and inconsistently applied. The sustainability of environmental institutions depends greatly on their budgetary solvency. But, in Jamaica the amount of the (non debt) budget allocated to environment is less than 1%[2]. As a result, a weak, incomplete and inconsistently applied legal and regulatory framework predominates. Few laws within the region incorporate the concept of environmental cost into macroeconomic policies. There is a general absence or weakness in legislation to stop the commercialization and exiting of genetic resources originating from countries within the region. In spite of recent improvements, environmental institutions have still not achieved significant weight as opposed to other sectors that affect decision-making policies.

The UNDP and the GEF are very pleased to be associated with the Capacity Self-Assessment for Jamaica. I trust this project will help the country to overcome the challenges it faces with regard to implementing Sustainable Development. Thank you for inviting me and I wish you all a very successful programme and workshop.

 



[1] 10am Knutsford Court Hotel, 2004-06-30, Wednesday. Enter from the Chelsea side for reserved parking

[2] 1% of recurrent expense and 2% of capital budget (from 2004-2005 Budget figures M Fin Website)