Jamaica is taking the lead in hosting the Caribbean’s first ever symposium on Climate Change and World Heritage this month.
The unprecedented event will bring together 40 delegates from 12 Caribbean nations with existing World Heritage properties, policy makers and experts involved in climate change.
“We recognize the importance of cultural heritage in our nation’s development and the impact that climate change can have on heritage sites,” Olivia Grange, the island’s minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport said recently.
“Through the symposium we will be able to coordinate efforts and resources in the Caribbean to improve awareness and collaboration in preserving and safeguarding our tangible and intangible heritage resources.”
The announcement by the minister punctuated her message marking World Heritage Day on April 18. Acknowledged under the theme ‘Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Tourism,’ the day’s presentations featured an explanation “that emerging from the symposium will be best practices to safeguard heritage sites based on the impact of climate change.”
She added that the decision to host the pioneering symposium is part of her ministry’s effort to secure a “strategic thrust to strengthen Jamaica’s presence in World Heritage.”
Already recognized by UNESCO for its heritage sites – Blue Mountain and John Crow mountain which were inscribed as a “mixed” site, in recognition of both the area’s natural uniqueness and its cultural values, the government of Jamaica “seeks to engage a variety of stakeholders, including high-level government representatives, the private sector, Jamaica’s development partners, non-government and community-based organizations, the media, and academia in frank and open discussion on several topics surrounding the issue of climate change.”
The island’s first heritage site encompasses “a forested, mountainous region in Jamaica’s southeast, which provided refuge first for the indigenous Tainos fleeing slavery and then for escaped African slaves known as Maroons. They resisted the European colonial system in the isolated region by establishing a network of trails, hiding places and settlements, which form the Nanny Town Heritage Route.”
The Paris Agreement, which was adopted at the Climate Change Summit in Paris two years ago, signals the commitment of the international community to combat climate change and its wide-ranging effects.
One year ago on Earth Day, during a special ceremony that convened at the United Nation, Jamaica joined then UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and representatives from more than 150 countries in signing the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
”The agreement is especially important to Small Island Developing States, like Jamaica, which are particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change, including sea-level rise and coastal erosion.
Taking steps to address climate change at the national level, and supporting ambitious action at the global level, is central to Jamaica’s ongoing efforts to the achievement of sustainable development,” Kamina Johnson Smith, Jamaica’s foreign minister said.
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