In March 2015, CityLinks selected Portmore, Jamaica and Townsville, Australia to participate in its Climate Adaptation Partnership Program.
Portmore Municipality, located in St. Catherine Parish, is one of the most vulnerable communities to climate change impacts on the island of Jamaica. It the fastest growing municipality with respect to human settlement and has one of the largest populations in Jamaica at roughly 182,000, second only to Kingston.
Townsville is a regional city with a population approaching 200,000 people, located on the northeast coast of Australia, just off the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. The climate is tropical in nature with a long warm dry season and a hot humid wet season.
Though culturally and geographically miles apart, the cities share a similar climate and have both identified flooding and storm surges as major hazards that will intensify with climate change. Over the life of the partnership, Townsville will serve as a resource city for Portmore, combining a science-based approach with practical application to assist the municipality in preparing for future climate impacts.
Some of the team during a site visit
The trip consisted of site tours, visits to universities, environmental agencies, and assorted organizations enacting climate projects in the area, meetings with key stakeholders, and working sessions, all to familiarize the Townsville delegation with the lay of the land. Site tours included excursions to Half Moon Bay in Hellshire and landfill that serves Portmore and the greater Kingston area.The first exchange trip of the partnership took place in early May when the CityLinks team, along with municipal leaders from Townsville, and an expert from the Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN) journeyed to Portmore.
Towards the conclusion of the trip, the teams worked together to lay a foundation for the rest of the partnership and created a plan to mainstream climate change and community engagement in Portmore’s Sustainable Development Plan. Subsequent exchange trips to Townsville and then again to Portmore are slated to occur later this year.
Through CityLinks, cities in developing and transitioning countries can draw on the resources of U.S. local governments to develop sustainable solutions tailored to the real needs of their communities. For regular updates on partnership activities, check out the Notes from CityLinks blog.