8 September 2021, Apia, SAMOA – Emerging opportunities and challenges in accessing climate finance to build resilience to climate change in the Pacific were identified during the second day of the 30th SPREP Meeting of Officials.
According to a report released in 2017, titled ‘Climate Finance in the Pacific: An overview of flows to the region’s Small Island Developing States, a total of US748 million in finance, principally targeting climate change, was committed to Pacific island countries between 2010 and 2014.
With the establishment of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) in 2015, there has been a shift in countries’ approaches to accessing financing to meet their Nationally Determined Contributions ambitions towards low-emission, climate-resilient pathways.
Since the establishment of the GCF, approximately US$362 million has been approved for grants in the Pacific from funding mechanisms which include the Adaptation Fund and the Global Environment Facility, which is the largest funder of climate-related financing in the Pacific.
Manager of SPREP’s Project Coordination Unit, Dr Melanie King, presented to the 30th SPREP Meeting of Officials on how Pacific island countries can capitalise on emerging strategic opportunities in securing climate financing for Pacific island countries to meet their climate change goals, and also highlighted some of the challenges that prevent them from doing so.
Dr King stated that Pacific island countries can capitalise on opportunities to access climate finance by exploring access to all funding options and opportunities, building synergies across all modalities and funds, developing financial assistance funds to enable access to technical support in order to develop effective concept notes, and developing solid platforms for projects at country levels through Readiness and National Adaptation Plans.
Aligning country programmes with key priorities and clear project ideas which meet funder investment criteria and scaling-up investments were also ways in which countries can fully capitalise on emerging strategic opportunities to access climate finance.
While a number of opportunities are emerging through interactions with the funding agencies, accessing finance also has a number of challenges for Small Island Developing States which need to be mitigated against before effective access can be achieved.
These challenges include the countries priorities not always meeting funding investment criteria. This therefore leads to project concepts which do not meet the criteria being submitted to funders and subsequently declined.
Another challenge to Pacific island countries in accessing climate financing is the limited capacity to absorb increasing amounts of development assistance, which leads to a hesitancy to take on large scale development projects.
“We need to challenge our Pacific island countries to think big. In order to make a difference or to bring about change, we need to think large-scale. A way this can be achieved is by looking at blending and scaling-up across funds, and utilising third-parties to implement these projects, relieving internal pressure on resources, whilst still working closely with governments,” Dr King said.
In addition, the lack of clear articulation and mapping of key priorities, as well as capacity constraints and high transactional and operational costs are also challenges which exist for SPREP’s Pacific island member countries
SPREP was recently re-accredited to the Green Climate Fund as a regional Accredited Entity. This means that Pacific island Members can apply for GCF funding for climate change adaptation and mitigation projects through SPREP. The organisation had to meet strict and extensive fiduciary, governance, project management and other organisational performance standards in order to be re-accredited.
A multi-country Readiness Project aimed at building capacity within SPREP, across the region and across Direct Access Entities to better support the development of country project pipelines has also been supported by the GCF.
For more information, please contact Dr Melanie King, Manager Project Coordination Unit, at email@example.com.
The 30th SPREP Meeting of Officials is being held virtually for participants from around the Pacific and face-to-face for participants in Samoa.
The Meeting brings together SPREP's 21 Pacific Island Member countries and 5 Metropolitan Members to discuss strategic issues pertaining to the organisation, and to approve the 2022-2023 work plan. The Environment Ministers' High-Level Talanoa will be held on Friday 10 September 2021.
The 21 Pacific Island Member countries and territories of SPREP are: American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna.
The five Metropolitan members of SPREP are: Australia, France, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States of America.
The 30th SPREP Meeting of Officials follows on from the Second Executive Board Meeting which was held in 2020.