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By Ambassadors Howard Bamsey and Feturi Elisaia
Representatives of countries from throughout the Pacific will gather in the Kingdom of Tonga, tomorrow, to participate in the Green Climate Fund Structured Dialogue with the Pacific.
This three-day gathering with GCF is timely because it will bring together countries in the Pacific to enhance engagement with the Fund and to further progress GCF funding proposals. Country representatives will be joined by other stakeholders, such as GCF implementing partners, private sector companies based in the Pacific and civil society organizations. As a main objective of the event is to further accelerate the Pacific’s engagement with GCF, having a diverse mix of the Fund’s partner base in attendance is a highlight.
An observer may ask why is GCF so important to Pacific island countries and the Pacific to the GCF? The answer is simple. The Green Climate Fund was created in 2010 to finance climate change action in developing countries so that they can adapt to the impacts of climate change and lower the greenhouse gas emissions that are harmful to life on the planet. As a financial mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which was adopted by 197 countries, GCF has a vital role to play in providing predictable resources to countries.
Home to many small islands developing States (SIDS), the Pacific region is a priority for the Fund, together with other SIDS, least developed countries and African States. Since becoming operational in 2014, GCF has approved 43 projects and programmes worldwide totalling US$2.2 billion in GCF financing. Of these, seven are in the Pacific covering Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, altogether worth over US$250 million in GCF investment. These projects and programmes are focused on building the region’s resilience to the impacts of climate change and tapping the Pacific’s potential for renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions.
That the region has a substantial number of approved projects and programmes in a short timeframe speaks to the commitment that island countries have placed in getting resources on the ground to respond to the real threats that communities are facing. The Pacific has been an early mover for GCF, and island leaders have communicated clearly that the Fund is a genuine partner.
Now that the Pacific has firmly kick-started its relationship with GCF, what is next? The Structured Dialogue hopes to help answer this. From the perspective of GCF, there are three overriding priorities that are important to discuss in Tonga.
First, expand awareness of how GCF can assist Pacific island countries in the implementation of their nationally determined contributions as part of the Paris Agreement. The Structured Dialogue format is key for GCF to work alongside countries and other stakeholders to resolve some of the questions about how the Fund operates and what it can do to help. This includes unpacking the various funding options to further strengthen country ownership and the national institutions that want to partner with the Fund.
Second, mobilise the private sector to engage in the Pacific’s low-emission and climate-resilient development agenda. Through its unique Private Sector Facility, the Green Climate Fund can unlock private sector investments by acting as an early investor and lower the risk of projects. Thus, more private capital can be made available. In this regard, working at regional scale could go a long way to attract these investments.
Third, keep ambition high. GCF was created to back transformative and paradigm-shifting projects and programmes; not business as usual initiatives that might be supported by other international organisations. It is crucial that countries bring forward their innovative aspirations to GCF. This is central to the Fund’s mandate, and the global community is watching to ensure GCF delivers.
An outcome of the Tonga Dialogue will be advancing the Pacific regional roadmap that was initiated in Fiji in August 2016. The roadmap outlined a pipeline of concepts, priority projects and programmes, implementing partners and anticipated impacts of GCF’s investments in a region where there is no time to lose in addressing climate change. Many of the projects identified in Suva are now among those approved in the Pacific. Our aim is that through this meeting in Nuku‘alofa we will not only build on last year’s event but also see additional momentum build as countries take stock of the good progress that is being made.
No doubt the GCF Structured Dialogue with the Pacific will be an intense and productive gathering for the region. GCF is looking forward to facilitating a successful exchange among participants and gaining invaluable insights into how Pacific island countries want to build a long-term and fruitful relationship with the Fund.
The authors of this editorial are Howard Bamsey, Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund and Feturi Elisaia, GCF Board member representing Small Island developing States who is also Permanent Representative of Samoa to the United Nations.
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