U.S. welcomes Pacific COP bid for Australia in 2026, confirms support for Resilience Facility

PM Albanese and President Biden at the White House (October 26, 2023)

A long-running bid for global recognition of a Pacific-owned, initiated and led Resilience fund for disaster-proofing islands nations has received the nod from the United States and Australia.

The Pacific Resilience Facility (PRF) is a concept of Forum Leaders keen to build up a fund easing access to funding for helping Pacific nations invest in proactive preparation for disasters to save money on post-disaster damages and cleanup.

In a White House fact sheet this week, President Biden of the United States and Australia Prime Minister Albanese posted an official update on the new partnership, reaffirming “the strength of the U.S.-Australia alliance and the evolution of its reach beyond defence and security, into a force for increased prosperity and innovation across the Indo-Pacific region and around the world.”

Buried near the bottom of the factsheet, there was formal recognition from the leaders of the disproportionate impacts of climate change on Pacific island countries.

Following on from their earlier commitments in May to support Pacific-led initiatives to enhance climate change mitigation, adaptation and mitigation efforts, Australia and the United States intend to further explore a meaningful contribution to the Pacific Resilience Facility, once the design and other arrangements have been finalised, as a Pacific Island Forum-led and member-owned Facility that will build climate and disaster resilience.

In addition, the United States and Australia will work to enhance access to the resources of the Green Climate Fund, and other relevant multilateral funds, especially for those most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, including least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS). This effort will be advanced, including through targeted bilateral technical assistance from USAID to LDCs and SIDS and in coordination with DFAT’s programme of support to Pacific Island countries.

Importantly, the United States welcomed Australia’s bid to host COP31 in 2026 in partnership with Pacific Island Countries, raising speculation this will be formally confirmed by Pacific Leaders when they meet in Rarotonga later in early November. The comprehensive update covered a range of priorities for both nations, supporting Israel’s right to defend itself after the Hamas attack earlier this month, and detailing major partnerships in technology, clean energy, gender equality, indigenous peoples, and support for women’s economic empowerment, people to people links to the Info-Pacific, amongst other key priorities.