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The Cook Islands can now access climate related finance of up to about $76.3 million (US$50million) per project directly from the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
The country has become the first nation in the Pacific to be accredited to the fund which was formed to assist developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change.
Over the weekend, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM) was approved as an accredited entity to the fund at the GCF board meeting in Manama, Bahrain.
This means that MFEM can now source direct funding of up to $76.3m from the GCF per project – avoiding the need to go through other accredited entities as has been done in the past – to support projects and programmes addressing climate change in the Cook Islands.
In a statement, Mark Brown, the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, expressed his gratitude to the hardworking team based in the country for this milestone achievement.
MFEM has been working on accreditation to the GCF since June, 2016, under the lead of accreditation consultant, Elizabeth Wright-Koteka, the statement added.
The lengthy process involved the need to strengthen internal processes, requiring MFEM to establish an Environmental and Social Safeguards, a Gender Policy and a Grants Awards System within its national financial systems, in order to meet fiduciary standards of the GCF’s accreditation criteria. The Climate Change Cook Islands division (CCCI) of the Office of the Prime Minister, as the country’s focal point to the GCF, assisted the accreditation process in terms of providing guidance. However, it has ultimately been MFEM’s responsibility to ensure that all the requirements of the GCF were met throughout the process.
“I am especially proud of the fact that our application process was done entirely in-house by our small, but very talented team of Cook Islands professionals. They demonstrated that world class capability exists in our small but highly professional organizations,” Brown said.
MFEM are grateful for the readiness support funding received from the GCF to fund GCF staff and the accreditation consultant within the Development Coordination Division of MFEM dedicated to working on its accreditation application.
“The road to accreditation has involved two years of tireless work, but this development is a significant milestone for the Cook Islands,” the statement said.
“MFEM are proud of this milestone as the Cook Islands is the first amongst the Pacific island countries to receive accreditation to the fund as a national direct access entity.”
According to Brown this accreditation will, “assist our country in meeting our carbon emissions reductions and also assist in financing adaptation initiatives to strengthen our country against the impacts of climate change”.
“What we now need is for the wealthy countries that are responsible for carbon emissions to contribute to the fund so that countries like us that are being hurt by their actions can protect ourselves,” he added.
The Cook Islands was also the first country in the region and the first Small Island Developing State (SIDS) to receive financial resources from the fund in 2016.
SOURCE: COOK ISLANDS GOVT/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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