About The Project


Country Focus

Project Background

Country: Jamaica
Total Budget: EUR 4,482,420
European Union contribution: EUR 4,130,000
UNEP Contribution: EUR 180,000
GOJ Contribution (Government of Jamaica): EUR 172,420
Total Project Duration: 30 months

Jamaica’s natural resources have suffered a decline in quantity and quality over time, due primarily to its heavy dependence on these resources, cultural/traditional unsustainable practices, and the many natural hazards which have affected the island. The coastal zone contains an estimated 75% of industries and service sectors and is responsible for generating approximately 90 % of the island’s GDP.  The island’s two international airports are also located along the coast. In addition, more than 60% of Jamaica’s population resides within 2 km of the coast, with the majority either reliant on, or affected by coastal activities. In 2007, a total of about 71% of the poor lived in rural areas and the livelihoods of a large proportion of households in these areas depend on natural resources.

Over the last 25 - 30 years, Jamaica has experienced an increase in the frequency of natural events, primarily floods related to inclement weather, tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes, and droughts and landslides. The adverse impacts of hurricanes included a decline in the health of coral reefs; loss of seagrass beds; severe beach erosion and loss of forested areas.  The island has, and will continue to be affected by increased frequency and intensity of tropical weather systems, which can partly be attributed to climate change. Between 2004 and 2008, five major storm events caused damage and losses estimated at US$1.2 billion. These have had significant impact on the national economy; the quality of the country’s natural environment and the livelihoods of thousands of people, particularly in rural areas. In addition, the country has experienced loss of lives and property; damage to infrastructure; periodic isolation of communities; and disruption to the school system and health services.

Jamaica’s wetlands were thought to have covered approximately 2 % of Jamaica’s total surface, but have declined. They have been impacted severely by the passage of several tropical cyclones and frontal systems over the years. Mangrove forests occur along much of Jamaica’s south coast and in isolated strands along the north coast. These mangrove ecosystems are the breeding habitats for many marine species, including shrimp, molluscs, mussels, clams, oysters and some fish, which are very important food resources for the country. Mangroves assist in improving coastal water quality; in addition, they protect shorelines from erosion and other harmful effects of strong winds and waves. Environmental degradation affects all levels – local and national. At the local level, the coastal communities who depend on these ecosystems are disadvantaged; residents often rely primarily on agriculture and/or tourism. Housing is often compromised, particularly with the onset of tropical systems. At the national level, the economy is likely to be affected as agriculture and tourism are critical to sustaining it. It is therefore critical that action is taken at all levels, particularly through collaborative efforts, to reduce further degradation and to restore terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems and ensuring greater resilience to climate change impacts.

Jamaica, is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts, and faces direct threats from climate change because of its geographic location.  Detailed climate modelling has not yet been possible for Jamaica, but preliminary research suggests that the region is likely to see increases in extreme weather events such as flood rains and droughts, and an increase in the intensity of hurricanes. Coastal areas in Jamaica are at the forefront of climate change impacts as they are directly affected by storm surges, physical development and sea level rise. With sea levels projected to rise by an average of 2 - 3mm per year during the first half of this century, the effects on the coastal areas will be severe, and include erosion and coastal land subsidence. Coastal areas are already affected by saline intrusion which is likely to be exacerbated by climate change. These issues highlight the importance of this project which seeks to reduce risks and assist with adaptation to climate change. The project targets various groups these include; CBOs, NGOs, students, teachers, farmers, fisherfolk, Private Sector groups, media groups, Local Authorities, and communities.

Many of the activities within the project will use lessons learnt from other projects, and may also act as a tool for other projects or programmes. Additionally, it is expected to have a multiplier effect on the local and national levels. Communities and other local groups stand to benefit from improved resilience of natural ecosystems such that there will be less damage and losses from weather systems. On a macro-economic scale, however, the benefits may be seen in reduced damage and loss due to storm events, and the protection of those sectors which play a key part in sustaining the economy including agriculture and tourism. The project will build on scientific knowledge through data collection. In Jamaica, farming and fishing is mainly done by males, therefore they will be targeted specifically through public education programmes, in order to overcome some destructive traditions and practices.

There is a link between terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems such that activities up-stream can affect those downstream. The concept of “ridge to reef” is one that has been adopted and is being practiced in Jamaica. It has been proven and recognised that protecting the hillsides from degradation will help in protecting the coastal and marine ecosystems, particularly coral reefs that suffer from land-based activities, in particular sedimentation. Effective management therefore dictates that an integrated approach is needed. The results were designed with this in mind, where it targets and benefits various groups and sectors.

The project targets the water, agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors which are inextricably linked. Watersheds and forests play a key role in the provision of water for varied uses. With proper and effective management of these ecosystems, it is likely that the water quality and availability will be improved. It is also expected to reduce the likelihood of flooding downstream which continues to pose a problem for many communities.


Project Objectives

Overall Objective:

To adapt to climate change and contribute to sustainable development in Jamaica, particularly in vulnerable communities, through increasing resilience and reducing risks associated with natural hazards.

Specific Objectives:

  • Reduce downstream run-off and associated negative environmental and human impacts through rehabilitation and improved management of selected watersheds;
  • Increase resilience of coastal ecosystems to climate change impacts through restoration and protection of selected ecosystems;
  • Enhance institutional and local-level capacity for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction through increasing capabilities

The primary partners for the project are the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ); National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA); the Environmental Management Division, Office of the Prime Minister (EMD, OPM); Forestry Department (FD); and Meteorological Services Jamaica.

The Target groups for this project include Community Based Organizations (CBOs); Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Students, Teachers, Farmers, Fisher folk, Private sector groups, Local Authorities, Private Land Owners and Identified Communities. The final beneficiaries of this project are expected to be Agricultural Services, Forestry Services; Fisheries, Water Supply and Sanitation and Administrative Management

Estimated results

  • Rehabilitated watersheds through slope stabilization measures such as reforestation of denuded hillsides;
  • Increased resilience of selected coastal areas against potential climate change impacts
  • Climate change capacity building and awareness raising.

Main activities

Rehabilitated Watersheds:

  • Facilitate the establishment and improvement of community-based management structures in the selected Watershed Management Units (WMUs);
  • Undertake reforestation and agroforestry in selected WMUs;
  • Assess forested crown lands and declare forest reserves;
  • Develop a Forest Fire Management Programme;
  • Promote sustainable livelihood/economic activities;
  • Establish river protection infrastructure/structures in selected areas.


Resilience in Coastal Areas

  • Design and implement data collection and database systems for monitoring changes in coastal ecosystems;
  • Restore mangrove forests;
  • Develop management plans for the effective management of selected marine protected areas (MPAs);
  • Establish and/or enhance coastal protection measures in selected areas.
  • Use (best-practice) appropriate methods and technologies in restoring seagrass beds;
  • Identify and assess possible options for alternative livelihoods and take steps to facilitate them in selected communities.

Climate Change Capacity Building and Awareness

  • Design and implement a comprehensive climate change awareness and educational campaign including culturally relevant materials and resources;
  • Provide and disseminate resource materials using existing institutions such as public libraries, and others;
  • Create and operationalize publicly accessible GIS-based database and mechanism for data sharing and transfer;
  • Identify capacity building/strengthening needs within the government and implement appropriate activities to address these needs;
  • Assist in the revision and/or development of policies that will address climate change adaptation and, where appropriate, mitigation to climate change.


Project Approach

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has been entrusted by the European Union with resources, on behalf of the Government of Jamaica .The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the primary agency responsible for project management. They have six cross-cutting thematic areas. Three of them are directly relevant to the objectives of the project: Climate Change; Ecosystem Management; and Disaster Prevention. UNEP CAR/RCU, the Regional Seas Office based in Jamaica plays a lead role in project implementation, falls within the UNEP Division of Environmental Policy Implementation (DEPI) which is responsible for the implementation of environmental policy in order to foster sustainable development at global, regional and national levels. It is also UNEP’s focal division for capacity building, climate change adaptation, disaster risk management, and ecosystem management which will allow for a broad range of additional technical support for the project.

UNEP works along with the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) who co-manages the project. Both organizations along with the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the Environmental Management Division (EMD) of the OPM, the Forestry Department, and the Meteorological Services Jamaica. Theses organizations along with the European Union comprise the steering committee for the project. The Project Steering Committee was established with the aim of providing general oversight, policy guidance and monitoring of programme implementation.

A project management unit was established to manage the project. This unit is located within the offices of Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).

The PIOJ was selected to co-manage this action as it is a multi-facetted agency which advises the government in economic, social and environmental matters. It is currently spear-heading the government’s Vision 2030 Jamaica – National Development Plan, a long-term sustainable development tool by which all government agencies are guided by. As such, the PIOJ is in a unique position to coordinate various activities and collaborate with various groups of society including governmental, private and non-governmental organizations



Climate change adaptation is a critical aspect of future national development plans by the government. The activities given above form a part of the government’s vision of long-term socio-economic and environmental well-being. This is outlined in the Vision 2030 plan which seeks to integrate all aspects of life in a sustainable manner. It is recognised that the environment plays an integral role in achieving sustainable development goals including the reduction of poverty, and the improvement in the quality of health and life for all Jamaicans. Also, the plan highlights the need for climate change adaptation considering the possible threats to the society which is heavily dependent on the use of natural resources. The combination of climate change and unsustainable human activities are threatening the quality and survival of those natural resources and the economic, social and environmental services they provide.

The project will also impact and be impacted by various committees including the Protected Areas Committee which is responsible for the oversight of the Protected Areas System Master Plan (PASMP). The PASMP is aimed at improving the management structure of protected areas. The SD Council will also be able to provide input and facilitate the expansion and/or replication of some aspects of the project.

The sustainability of the project will be achieved through collaboration at the local and national levels. Many of the activities require the participation and input of local stakeholders, one being through the formation of local forest management committees (LFMCs) which will assist in the protection of watersheds. This approach will encourage uptake at the community level and facilitate efforts of national institutions to continue activities geared towards improving the resilience of natural ecosystems. Lessons learnt will be used to upscale activities and also replicated as required.
Several agencies including NEPA and the Forestry Department are mandated to tackle some of these problems through integrated management structures. Funding for the continuation of these activities will be from government and other agencies, both locally and internationally.