From international climate conferences to regional meetings, Pacific Islands have consistently lamented the difficulties of getting access to climate finance over the past few years.
“Our climate finance needs are substantial; we need $1 billion per year for the Pacific’s NDC commitment , and we would need a total of $5.2 billion by 2030 to implement the Pacific’s NDC commitment. Unfortunately, only $220 million is approved for the Pacific each year,” said Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Climate Change Finance Adviser, Exsley Taloiburi.
Taloiburi says a new approach is needed, and a regional hub is being mooted to coordinate, facilitate, and help implement projects that acquire climate financing.
“In the absence of a regional climate finance strategy, members are doing their own things as CROP agencies and partners respond to individual countries’ requests in an adhoc and fragmented manner,” he told journalists at the Forum Economic Ministers meeting in Vanuatu.
“As a result, funds that are able to be accessed are quite small,” he said.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator to Vanuatu, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Tuvalu, Sanaka Samarasinha agrees that a more coordinated approach is needed.
“There is a significant amount of money available from the Green Climate Fund that is allocated for the Pacific, but the absorption of the Pacific countries is much slower,” he says.
“This is something the vertical fund will tell you… first of all, they are getting small projects, multiple projects but smaller in size, which doesn’t draw all of the funding for the Pacific,” Samarasinha stressed.
“We need to rethink how we as regional organisations will come together to help our members access and implement the programme once they access the finance.”
Samarasinha said single countries can often not afford to absorp the very large projects—worth $1 billion— and multi-country or regional iniitatives may help address this challenge.
“This way they can access one or two goals that can also reduce transaction costs, bring in that big chunk of money, and then you manage the implementation in smaller chunks,” he said.
Regional economic ministers will today be asked to approve development of a regional climate finance strategy. “This would help us structure and coordinate our efforts in the Pacific, [and] how we engage and access this global climate funding mechanism,” added Taloiburi at the PIFS.