This article is written by Mouna Chambon.
An important issue that has been discussed at the COP22 in Marrakech is the allocation of the financial resources required for implementing the NDCs in the Pacific region.
People in Pacific Island Countries (PICs) are disproportionately more impacted by climate change than other regions of the world. While the PICs are standing at the frontline of climate change, they are those that contribute the least to global GHGs emissions.
But as many other Least Developed Countries (LDCs), they suffer from a lack of capital bases and foreign investment for climate action. As a climate justice issue, there has been gradual recognition that developed countries should provide their support in mitigation and adaptation projects. As a result, climate finance has become a central pillar of climate negotiations.
In Marrakech, developed countries reaffirmed the objective adopted in the preamble to the Paris Agreement to jointly mobilise USD 100 billion per year of public and private finance by 2020 for climate mitigation and adaptation in developing countries. However, many challenges still remain in achieving this goal in the Pacific region.
The big picture: Financial flows in the Pacific and the adaptation gap
Pacific governments face a complex range of funding systems through which they can apply for climate finance, ranging from multilateral development banks to bilateral arrangement, International Non-governmental Organizations (INGOs) and church programs. Last but not least, multilateral climate funds are also a key component of climate finance. The Global Climate Fund (GCF) is currently the main channel through which climate finance is allocated.
Australia stands out among the largest donors followed by Japan, the European Union and New Zealand. There are also small but growing levels of South-South cooperation with China that has already provided bilateral support to many PICs. But despite the pledges repeated at Marrakech, there is still a substantial imbalance between mitigation and adaptation funds. At the moment global flows are in favour on mitigation, with barely 20% of the total allocating to adaptation.
“Adaptation action funding are critical, therefore the work for clear guidelines and pathways to reach the 100 billion dollars per year by 2020 is needed. Here in Marrakech, this is the time for us to make a strong call“ said Enele Sopoaga, the Prime minister of Tuvalu in a Press Briefing on Wednesday, the 16th of November.
At the COP22, the Stockholm Environment Institute also pointed out the absence of a comprehensive assessment of climate financial flows in the Pacific region. Experts denounced a severe data gap with very few studies conducted in the region and barely updated. They also mentioned a lack of a comprehensive tracking system, in favour of more transparency for private investment, as well as the absence of disaggregated data for the PICs. They recommend to shift from a quantitative to a qualitative analysis of financial flows. This implies looking at the effectiveness of climate finance in the Pacific region. How do the recipient countries receive funding and what challenges do they face?
Common challenges of climate finance in the PICs
The main issue of climate finance in the Pacific region remains the difficulty for PICs to access and manage these funds. Indeed, accessing international financing requires special knowledge and expertise. Yet, a small portion of the population in PICs has been educated to understand the very technical terminology that characterizes financial systems. The access to international financing also implies to increase the institutional capacity building of these countries. Finally, the high heterogeneity of financial mechanisms within the Pacific region is a significant barrier to regional funding from donors.
In addition to these preliminary constraints, the operationalization of projects on the ground is a second source for concern. Several factors related to the common socio-economic systems of the PICs prevent an effective implementation of funded projects. These include an underdeveloped financial market, poor investment policies and a high cost operating environment. Besides that, a concern too often ignored by international donors is the temporal dimension. S long-term approach is crucial in order to build community trust and get their approval on projects. Thus, we need to reconsider the relevance of the existing funds since they are mainly based on short-term projects.
In the context where PICs are already struggling to access to climate finance, the question of implementing the NDCs in the Pacific region seems critical.
Implementing the NDCs in the Pacific region: a call for global cooperation
In Paris, countries made pledges to cut their GHGs emissions based on Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), which require more ambitious commitments every five years. Most of the NDCs in the Pacific region are comprehensive and ambitious with the common goal to rely 100% on renewable energy by 2050. However, the lack of any specific quantified commitments to increase adaptation funding remains a major problem given the enduring imbalance between adaptation and mitigation funds. Moreover, public funds need to be additional to the Official Development Assistance (ODA). In his press briefing, the Prime Minister of Tuvalu claimed that “The linking between ODA and climate change funding has to be additional to the ODA existing framework.”
In Marrakech, Pacific governments have reaffirmed that climate financing must be adequate, sustainable and predictable, with quantified goals for adaptation finance, in order to meet the needs of their citizens and achieve the goals set out in the Paris agreement.
Far from being the “COP of Action”, the COP 22 ended without a clear roadmap for climate finance in the Pacific region.
What prospects for the future?
How can we remain optimistic? What are the options available to implement NDCs in the Pacific region in the absence of reliable and clear financial support?
Well, the task is not easy but as suggested by Hilda Heine, the President of the Marshall Islands, PICs should focus on building their national capacity first. On the short term, this shift would make them more attractive and reliable for foreign investments and public funding. In the long run, that seems to be the best approach for moving away from the paternalistic framework of existing international aid system. Furthermore, strengthening regional cooperation is also a key component. “We have to turn first to each other, and then to the world” said Hilda Heine. Finally, PICs need to keep advocating for accelerating access to global funding.
We hope that the Fiji’s presidency at the COP23 will give them a greater opportunity for letting their voice heard.
About the author: Mouna Chambon is 21 years old, and studies in Florence, as 2nd year Erasmus Mundus in biodiversity and tropical ecosystems. Through her studies and encounters during COP21, she became very receptive to climate change’s impacts on societies, and climate justice. Voluntary and dynamic, she seized the opportunity to study a semester in Australia to start a research project on the link between gender and climate change in Vanuatu.