Shaping Jamaica’s Adaptation Communication: Challenges and opportunities

By Leslie Walling and Anne-Teresa Birthwright, Climate Change Specialists

The mandate was clear, but Jamaica was keen on preparing an Adaptation Communication (AdCom) not only as a Party to the Paris Agreement (and celebrating the 5-year milestone of ratifying it in 2017) but because of the value-added potential of signalling a continuing commitment to adapting to the impacts of climate change.  

Supported by the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Global Network, the development of Jamaica’s first AdCom started in July 2021, aiming to document the barriers, gaps, and challenges to adaptation while noting the priorities, experiences, good practices, and support needed for effective implementation. This means the AdCom provides an opportunity to share widely the progress made by Jamaica in advancing national, sectoral, and community-level adaptation action. The AdCom documents efforts and needs for averting, minimizing, and addressing loss and damage associated with climate change. It also highlights those areas of planning and implementation that still need support. 


Although the preparation of Jamaica’s AdCom is a technical undertaking, the process ensured an organic and people-centred approach. An enabling environment (virtual and physical) facilitated the development of professional relationships and a space where stakeholder insights into processes, institutional plans, needs, ambitions, and future developments could be shared. 

Several good practices were employed in the preparation of Jamaica’s first AdCom, and various lessons learned were noted:  

Cover Jamaica's Adcom
Click on the image to read Jamaica’s AdCom.
  • Open and consistent communication, feedback, and guidance from the National Focal Point (Climate Change Division, Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation) and the NAP Global Network Secretariat, hosted by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, were crucial to the preparation of the AdCom.
  • The establishment of modalities to ensure that sector stakeholders at the economic and social levels most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change were able to participate in consultations. This was essential to ensuring that the AdCom’s findings and recommendations were robust. 
  • Follow-up consultations with stakeholders revealed patterns and potential synergies among adaptation interventions planned by different ministries, departments, and agencies. For example, the potential synergies between the national reporting, monitoring, and evaluation framework for donor-funded climate change projects across multiple sectors managed by the Planning Institute of Jamaica, and the application of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction’s Preliminary Assessment Scorecard for assessing the progress and changes in disaster risk management action at the municipal level. 

The commitment of the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) to climate action was evidenced in the number of climate change documents available during the literature review exercise which provided detailed direction on national policy and planning for climate action, some sector-level research, climate change projections and scenarios, and impact assessments.

St. Elizabeth, Jamaica - February 22 2018: Farmer at work in the field with bags of Irish Potatoes.
Farmer at work in the field with bags of Irish Potatoes St. Elizabeth, Jamaica: Adcom’s preparation process ensured an organic and people-centred approach.

Due to the global pandemic, data collection, stakeholder consultations, and workshops were largely conducted virtually. During these online consultations, stakeholders, including those involved in the NAP process, had the opportunity to share experiences about adaptation progress, exchange ideas, and discuss existing adaptation efforts in the country, as an input to the development of the AdCom. But the unavailability of stakeholders in some sectors impacted the outcome.  

Additionally, targeted consultations on the adaptation support needs of people with disabilities, children and youth, as well as the elderly, were not possible. Therefore, the data and information recorded on these vulnerable groups were based on a literature review. Time constraints also hindered the categorization of sector adaptation priorities and support needs based on short, medium, and long-term goals. Nonetheless, these will be advanced with the NAP process and a long-term strategy for climate resilient and low carbon development, both of which are in the early stages of development and can be captured in subsequent AdComs.

Ocho Rios, Jamaica - October, 27 2010: Fishing in Ocho Rios Jamaica
Fishing in Ocho Rios, Jamaica: The AdCom will make an invaluable contribution to enhancing the learning and understanding of adaptation needs and actions among stakeholders

The Government of Jamaica has been advancing its climate change agenda over the past few decades. This includes the adoption of climate change as a pillar for success in Vision 2030 Jamaica – National Development Plan, a long-term sustainable development strategy plan. The information gathered to prepare Jamaica’s AdCom confirms that national adaptation action is a coordinated institutionalized undertaking and will be even more so once the NAP is launched.  

It is important that this perspective be formally characterized and shared with national stakeholders and international partners. Likewise, national stakeholders must see the big picture and understand how their respective efforts contribute to the overall achievement of national adaptation goals. It is critical for Jamaica’s international development partners to appreciate this perspective so that adaptation needs and priorities are viewed as opportunities for strategic and programmatic support, rather than as piecemeal project-level interventions.  

Jamaica’s AdCom will make an invaluable contribution to enhancing the learning and understanding of adaptation needs and actions among stakeholders while strengthening international support. In essence, the AdCom is another step on the journey to ensuring resilient national and sectorial development in the face of climate change.