Official Launch of the National Capacity Self-Assessment for Global Environmental Management

Knutsford Court Hotel

Wednesday, 30 June 2004 at 9.00am



Jamaica has ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention to Combat Desertification and the Convention on Biological Diversity. This requires a collaborative approach and coordinated actions with regard to environmental issues, in order to meet our international commitments. It is for this reason that the National Capacity Self-Assessment Project (NSCA) is of particular importance, as it focuses directly on capacity issues pertinent to the implementation of these three conventions.


It is hoped, that this project will facilitate the type of analysis to determine where the capacity deficiencies exist, and identify priorities for action, to achieve the objectives of the various Conventions. It is therefore critical, that an integrated approach be adopted and articulated in a National Plan of Action that focuses on building capacity. This is the focus of the NCSA Project.


This project will also develop a strategy for sustainable development that will integrate economic, environmental and social considerations in the decision-making process while promoting “joined-up government” activities through inter-ministry and inter-agency collaboration.  Integrated planning and strategizing will harmonize measures that will ensure protection of the environment at the national, regional and global levels.

"The Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development" (World Summit on Sustainable Development), September 2002, states, that “Poverty eradication, changing consumption and production patterns, and protecting and managing the natural resource base for economic and social development, are overarching objectives of, and essential requirements for sustainable development. “

The Government of Jamaica is committed to a modernized form of governance that embraces a sustainable development framework as a platform for all its policies. This is evident as presented in Ministry Paper 56/2002, entitled Government at your Service – Public Sector Modernization Vision and Strategy 2002 – 2012, that incorporates the environment, social progress and the economy, at the heart of policymaking.


Thus, the framework is already established for all Government’s plans, projects, programmes and policies to be formulated based on sound sustainable principles and practices. It is incumbent then, for solid partnerships to be established between public and private sector to convey a consistent message that will promote sustainable development. This must be understood within the context of development that strengthens the economic, social, environmental, and governance capacity and development, that is equitable and sustainable.


 Today, we acknowledge the importance of the National Capacity Self-Assessment Project, mindful that despite the problems confronting us, such as persistent poverty, environmental degradation, climate change and ozone depletion, we are undaunted, and are committed to solidify the partnerships being forged at various levels. We are encouraged by the financial support afforded us by the international community, particularly the UNDP, to strengthen our capacity to address critical issues that impact on our sustainability.  Undoubtedly, we recognize the shared responsibility and commitment to coherent sustainable development principles, policies and initiatives; that will improve the prospects for national and global sustainable development.

I share with you the words of Thabo Mbeki, President, South Africa, opening of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg, August 2002, and I quote “We do not accept that human society should be constructed on the basis of a savage principle of the survival of the fittest. A global human society, characterised by islands of wealth, surrounded by a sea of poverty, is unsustainable.”

Current trends dictate that we adopt a fresh approach to governance and in dealing with those issues that impact on our economic growth, social cohesion and environmental degradation. As we seek to implement the conventions, let us be cognizant that “Climate change is not an environmental problem. It is a civilization problem. Climate change is not just another issue. If it is not addressed in very short order, it will swamp every other issue facing us today” so says Ross Gelbspan, author of  'The Heat is on - The Climate Crisis'.

In closing, having ratified these Conventions, it is our responsibility to ensure that sustainable development is not a nebulous concept that is treated as an esoteric topic for the intellectual, but rather an imperative, for the well thinking in our society.