Pacific Islands: Climate finance action a priority at COP27


Corals and coral reefs can be found around the islands and atolls of the Pacific Ocean. In Vanuatu, the government, with the support of SPC, has implemented a coral reef climate change project based on coral gardening. Photo credit: SPC
  • by Catherine Wilson (sydney)
  • Inter Press Service

For the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS), the failure of the international community to provide $100 billion a year to address the impacts of climate change in developing countries, a pledge made 13 years ago, has serious consequences. And it will be a big deal for Pacific leaders at the United Nations’ COP27 climate change conference kicking off on Sunday in Egypt.

“The Pacific Ocean is at the forefront of the impacts of climate change. Climate finance is critical to enable mitigation and adaptation actions, but the region suffers from a lack of access to the climate finance already committed to global mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund. Global priorities or global priorities are not allowing it to flow where it is most needed,” said Dr. Stuart Minchin, director general of the Pacific Community regional development organization in Noumea, New Caledonia, told IPS. “It seems that the polluters are setting the rules, and as a result, the flow of climate finance is more of a trickle feed than the deluge needed to meet the region’s challenges.”

Island nations scattered across the Pacific are among the world’s most exposed to climate extremes, such as rising air temperatures, ocean acidification, more damaging cyclones, heat waves and the critical loss of biodiversity, water and food security, the IPCC reported this year. The Secretariat of the Pacific Islands Forum estimates that the region will need $1 billion a year to meet its climate adaptation goals and $5.2 billion a year by 2030.

“Without global funding, Pacific countries and territories will not be able to identify and implement climate solutions,” said Anne-Claire Goarant, program manager of the Pacific Community’s Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability Program in Noumea. high. “Climate-induced disasters cause economic costs of 0.5 to 6.6 percent of annual gross domestic product (GDP) in Pacific countries. This trend will continue in the future in the absence of urgent climate action. Without adaptation measures, a high island like Viti Levu in Fiji could suffer damage of $23-52 million a year by 2050.”

The unique characteristics of islands, such as small land areas, the very close proximity of many communities, infrastructure and economic activities to coasts and precarious economies, means that severe weather events can have disastrous consequences. Fifty-five percent of Pacific islanders live less than 1 kilometer from the sea, and every year more villages face relocations as their livelihoods are endangered by flooding and sea erosion. Excessive heat, drought and rainfall are expected to threaten crop and food production, and key Pacific tourism revenues could fall 27-34 percent by the end of the century.

The costs of climate adaptation could amount to more than 25 percent of GDP in Kiribati, 15 percent of GDP in Tuvalu and more than 10 percent of GDP in Vanuatu. Yet the Pacific countries are “among the least equipped to adapt, putting their economic development and macroeconomic stability at risk,” reports the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

One of the two largest global sources of climate finance is the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which is mandated to focus on the needs of developing countries, and another, the Adaptation Fund, supports tangible adaptation projects. However, most of the global funding that Oxfam tracked in 2017-2018 did not reach the most vulnerable countries. Only 20.5 percent of reported funding was allocated to Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and 3 percent to Small Island Developing States.

“When it comes to financing adaptation in developing countries, what has happened so far is not good enough. We have to scale up the ambition quite drastically within the multilateral development banks and bilateral donors. And we need to work on mixed finance, where some public finances leverage private finance, and there’s a good balance of risk between the private and public sectors,” said United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Finance, Mark Carney.

The Pacific Community works closely with countries across the region to develop and submit climate finance proposals and support them in project implementation once funding is approved. For example, in Fiji, Nauru, Tonga and the Solomon Islands, it is supporting on-site projects to build climate resilience expertise and capacity among smallholder farmers with a €4.6 million grant from the multi-donor Kiwa Initiative.

But many countries in the region have had limited success with funding applications. In the Federated States of Micronesia, financial support is needed to increase health resilience, protect coastal areas, lifelines and critical infrastructure from climate destruction, and improve water security, Belinda Hadley, team leader in the National Designated Authority for the Green Climate of FSM Fund explained. But funding remains elusive as island nations struggle with overly difficult and labor-intensive application processes.

“The procedures for applying for multilateral climate finance are onerous and complex. This makes accessing climate finance a slow and cumbersome process. The capacities in the country of governments and other institutions are inadequate in the face of such complex processes. Many countries don’t have enough staff to meet the tough demands of donors,” Dirk Snyman, coordinator of the Pacific Community’s Climate Finance Unit, told IPS. “Even after project approval, the disbursement of funds can take one to two years. This does not allow countries to implement their adaptation and mitigation actions within the required timeframes.”

Funders should “facilitate faster and easier access to climate finance in such a way that the climate change priorities of Pacific communities, rather than donors’ priorities and policies, drive the regional portfolio of climate change projects,” Maëva Tesan, Communications and Knowledge Management Officer for the Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability Program emphasized.

Snyman said the situation could be improved if multilateral funders made application processes more streamlined and flexible, changed the current compliance-based approach to a focus on positive project impacts, and established a special climate fund for losses and damages in the region.

These views are shared by the IMF, which recommends that climate finance providers “recognize the diminishing opportunity to tackle the climate crisis” and “consider further efforts to rebalance shareholder risks with the urgency of climate adaptation needs.” of small and fragile countries.’

The United Nations COP27 Climate Change Conference will take place from 6-18 November in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

Report of the IPS UN Office

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© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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