Corals and coral reefs are found around the islands and atolls of the Pacific. In Vanuatu, with support from SPC, the government implemented a coral reef climate adaptation project based on coral gardening. Photo credit: SPCby Catherine Wilson (Sydney)Saturday 5 November 2022Inter Press Service
SYDNEY, Nov 05 (IPS) – Today closes the window for increased global climate action to prevent catastrophic global warming and build resilience in the most vulnerable nations. And a major obstacle to reducing emissions and accelerating adaptation to climate change is both a lack of financial investment and major bureaucratic hurdles in accessing the available funds.
For the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS), the international community’s failure to allocate US$100 billion annually to address the impacts of climate change in the developing world, a pledge made thirteen years ago, has serious consequences. And it will be a major topic for Pacific leaders at the United Nations COP27 climate change conference, due to start in Egypt on Sunday.
On the islands of Kadavu and Ra in Fiji, SPC supported the implementation of an integrated coastal management (ICM) and climate change resilience project. Photo credit: Spc
“The Pacific is at the forefront of the impacts of climate change. Climate finance is crucial to enable mitigation and adaptation action, yet the region suffers from a lack of access to climate finance, which has already been pledged to global mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund. Because of global prioritization or global priorities, it’s not going where it’s most needed,” said Dr. Stuart Minchin, director general of the regional development organization Pacific Community in Noumea, New Caledonia, told IPS. “It appears that the polluters are making the rules and consequently the flow of climate finance is more like a drip than the electricity required to meet the region’s challenges.”
Island nations scattered across the Pacific Ocean are among the world’s extreme climates, hardest hit by climate extremes such as rising air temperatures, ocean acidification, even more damaging cyclones, heat waves and critical loss of biodiversity, water and food security, the IPCC reported this year. The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat estimates that the region will need $1 billion annually to meet its climate adaptation goals and $5.2 billion annually by 2030.
“Without global funding, Pacific island nations and territories will not be able to identify and implement climate solutions,” Anne-Claire Goarant, program manager of the Pacific Community’s Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability Program in Noumea, told IPS, adding, that the cost will be high. “Climate-related disasters already cause economic costs of 0.5 to 6.6 percent of annual gross domestic product (GDP) in Pacific island states. This trend will continue in the future if no urgent climate protection measures are taken. Without adaptation, a high island like Viti Levu in Fiji could suffer $23-$52 million in damage per year by 2050.”
The unique characteristics of islands, such as small land areas, close proximity to shores for many communities, infrastructure and economic activities, and vulnerable economies mean that severe weather events can have catastrophic effects. Fifty-five percent of the Pacific Islanders live less than a kilometer from the sea, and more villages have to be relocated each year as flooding and marine erosion threaten their livelihoods. Excessive heat, drought and rainfall are predicted to threaten crop and food production, and key Pacific tourism revenues could collapse by 27 to 34 percent by the end of the century.
The cost of climate adaptation could reach more than 25 percent of GDP in Kiribati, 15 percent of GDP in Tuvalu and more than 10 percent of GDP in Vanuatu. Still, the Pacific island nations are “among the least prepared to adjust, threatening their economic development and macroeconomic stability,” reports the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
One of the two largest sources of global climate finance is the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which has a mandate to focus on the needs of developing countries, and the Adaptation Fund, which supports specific adaptation projects. However, the bulk of the global funding Oxfam pursued in 2017-2018 failed to reach the most vulnerable nations. 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 need to dramatically increase ambition within multilateral development banks and bilateral donors. And we need to work on blended finance, where some public finance leverages private finance and there is appropriate risk-sharing between the private and public sectors,” said Mark Carney, the United Nations special envoy for climate finance.
The Pacific community works closely with nations across the region to develop and submit climate finance proposals and assist them in implementing projects once funding is approved. In Fiji, Nauru, Tonga and the Solomon Islands, for example, with a grant of 4.6 million euros from the Kiwa initiative, it supports multi-donor projects on the ground to build up know-how and capacity for climate resilience among small farmers.
However, many countries in the region have had limited success with funding applications. Financial support is needed in the Federated States of Micronesia to increase health resilience, protect coastal areas, lifelines and critical infrastructure from climate degradation, and improve water security, Belinda Hadley, team leader in FSM’s National Designated Authority for the Green Climate fund explained. However, funding remains difficult as island nations struggle with overly difficult and resource-intensive application processes.
“Procedures for applying for multilateral climate finance are lengthy and complex. This makes accessing climate finance a slow and arduous process. The capacities of the governments and other local institutions are not sufficient in view of such complex processes. Many countries do not have enough human resources to meet the onerous demands of donors,” Dirk Snyman, coordinator of the Pacific Community’s Climate Finance Unit, told IPS. “Even after the project has been approved, it can take another one to two years for the funds to be paid out. This does not allow countries to implement their adaptation and mitigation actions within the required timeframe.”
Donors must “provide faster and easier access to climate finance so that the climate change priorities of Pacific communities, rather than donor 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, he stressed.
Snyman said the situation could be improved if multilateral funding providers made application processes streamlined and flexible, changed the current compliance-based approach to focus on positive project impacts, and had a dedicated climate fund for losses and damages in the region would be set up.
These views are shared by the IMF, which recommends that climate finance providers recognize “the shrinking window of opportunity to address the climate crisis” and “consider further efforts to balance the risks for shareholders with the urgency of the climate adaptation needs of small and fragile businesses Countries.’
The United Nations COP27 climate change conference will take place from 6 to 18 November in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
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© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service
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