Statement by Cristelle Pratt, Deputy Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, delivered during the Third High-Level Ministerial Dialogue on Climate Finance

Honourable Ministers

Excellencies

Ladies and gentlemen

Thank you for giving the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat this opportunity.

Climate change is the single greatest threat faced by our region. Our countries have identified adaptation and mitigation priorities, but our efforts can be further strengthened with enhanced access to international climate finance.

In the last 3 years, the Pacific has been impacted by several extreme climate related weather events – at magnitudes we have not seen before. Our people died. National infrastructure and private property were destroyed. The category 5 Cyclone Winston that hit Fiji in 2016 caused a total damage equivalent to 31% of GDP. Cyclone Pam that hit Vanuatu in 2015 caused damages of around 64% of GDP. The impacts can reverse decades of development gains in just a few hours.

The costs of climate change in the Pacific are substantial. Studies show that the adaptation cost for coastal protection in Pacific Island Countries will be 234 million U.S dollars per year by 2020 and 285 million per year by 2040 – and that is a best-case scenario.

Unfortunately, the Pacific’s accessibility to climate finance is still inadequate. The 2018 Biennial Report of the Standing Committee on Finance, found that SIDS receive only 2% of all bilateral funds, and just 13% from multilateral climate funds. A 2017 Stockholm Environment Institute report states that just 648 million U.S dollars trickled down to the 14 Pacific Island Countries over 2010 to 2014. It is clear that our needs are neither being heard nor are they being addressed and acted on.

That said, we do thank the GCF for support to the Pacific, with now eleven Pacific projects approved. Despite that, access procedures and reporting requirements remain cumbersome and resource intensive. This overwhelms the limited capacity of our countries – and so while they are doing their bit to strengthen their public financial management systems – to enhance their absorptive capacity – further work is still needed to provide necessary guidance to the GCF and GEF so they could be more responsive and considerate.

Pacific Island Countries are using the Pacific Climate Change Finance Assessment Framework to support their readiness. The Framework is recognised in the Standing Committee on Finance’s recent report as a ‘good practice’ tool. Ten countries have completed assessments, which show that to achieve an economy-wide transformation, climate actions need to be integrated into development policy and budget planning processes. This resonates with the objectives of the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific.

In closing, I would like to emphasise that a global concerted effort to provide scaled-up, predictable climate finance is vital to support Pacific Island Countries fully implement their NDC commitments.

I thank you Moderator.

[Source, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat news, 11th December 2018]

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