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The news of Tuvalu’s success at getting US$36 million from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) was greeted with emotional silence by its Deputy Prime Minister Hon Maatia Toafa.
Toafa, Tuvalu’s head of mission to the Polynesian Leaders Meeting (PLG) in Tahiti was a picture of relief when the news came through early Friday morning last week.
“We are very happy, each and every one of us, our cabinet ministers and in particular the Prime Minister who is the leader in the negotiation because trying to access climate change financing is such hard work,” he said, speaking exclusively to Pacific Guardian at the Le Meridien Resort in Papeete.
The Tuvalu Coastal Adaptation Project (TCAP) will benefit about 3,100 people directly and a further 3,499 indirect beneficiaries means an estimated 62% of the population of Tuvalu will derive benefit. Potentially, the project could reduce annual losses (including statistical value of life) worth up to $667,000 over a 40-year time period.
The Tuvalu project proposal was amongst the first to be approved for the 2016 year by the GCF Board Meeting held in Songdo, South Korea from 28-30 June. In total, the board approved US$256.6 million in funding.
Tuvalu’s proposal aims to reduce the impact of increasingly intensive wave activity, compounded by sea-level rise and intensifying storm events due to climate change, that are amplifying coastal inundation and erosion.
Toafa said Tuvalu’s application to the GCF started back in 2014 and was first submitted in late 2015. It was rejected. After a re-assessment, they decided to repackage for a second try.
The rejection at the first attempt was due to the very technical nature of the application process where some issues needed to be clarified. But critically, they decided to also slightly change the focus from a “business case” to one that highlights Tuvalu’s vulnerability more.
Which is the reason why they involved the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in addition to the implementing agency, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
“The first application we submitted came back needing technical issues relating to terms and conditions, the facilities, eligibility criteria and so forth, to be addressed. In revising the application with UNDP and then bringing in SPREP to assist as well, we were able to provide all the necessary information and articulate the focus on our vulnerability,” said Toafa.
“It is such a relief to see that we made the right call. As a result, we now have, as a start, some real capital to start climate proofing ourselves instead of having a fragmented approach to try and deal with the impacts of climate change as we get funds from here and there.”
The GCF funding resolves the high upfront investments required for coastal protection, the public good and non-revenue nature of the required solutions, and the inability of the Government to service loans which meant Government and the community were only able to implement recognized solutions at a slow pace and in a highly fragmented manner in the past.
The Director General for SPREP, Kosimiti Latu who also attended the PLG to update Leaders on the Paris Agreement and the GCF told Pacific Guardians, Tuvalu’s achievement is fantastic news for the region.
“This case demonstrates the fact that a country needs to get all the help that they need whether it’s from the implementing entity or from regional organizations that are there in the region.
“SPREP is one of eight GCF Implementing Agencies in the Pacific and we exist to support member countries and we are set-up to provide this level of support, beside others like UNDP to all of our members who want to go through these processes.
“Our involvement in Tuvalu’s case has been a great learning experience as well. So this is great news for the Pacific, great news for Tuvalu, and I truly believe, great news for all of us.”
Tuvalu’s project resources will be used to put in place a robust coastal protection infrastructure along 2,210m of vulnerable coastlines of Funafuti, Nanumea and Nanumaga representing nearly 28% of the high value zone of the country, which currently has no protective measures. It also represents 10% of all vulnerable coastlines in the country.
“This is only the beginning,” stated Toafa. “It makes us feel confident there is a chance to save Tuvalu.”
That the US$36 million GCF funded project now means Tuvalu will be able to take comprehensive and systemic steps to manage coastal inundation risks.
SOURCE: PACIFIC GUARDIANS/PACNEWS
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