Improving climate finance makes for more resilient Pacific

By Seneti Popua ‘Aho of the Tonga Broadcasting Commission.

26 June 2019, Sigatoka, Fiji – The Pacific Islands are directly impacted by climate change, but much of the foreign funds intended for combating climate change are difficult for Pacific island countries to directly access, and if funds are accessed, the complexity of the required reporting can prove too difficult to effectively manage.

This was an issue raised at the Regional Climate Change and Disaster Risk Finance Meeting, currently underway in Sigatoka, Fiji from June 26 to 27. Representatives from several Pacific island governments, regional projects, donors, and other partners, along with journalists from the Pacific Environment Journalists Network (PEJN), are gathered at the meeting. The meeting focuses on the availability, accessibility, and management of climate finance in the Pacific.

At the opening program on Tuesday, Pacific Island Forum Secretariat/GIZ Climate Finance and Public Finance Management Advisor, Mr 'Aholotu Palu, said the Pacific’s accessibility to climate finance is still inadequate.

"The completed Climate Change Disaster Risk Finance assessments show that to achieve an economy-wide transformation, climate actions need to be integrated into the whole public finance management system, particularly the planning and budgeting processes and to the oversight governance institutions, which includes monitoring and evaluation, and project management," said Mr Palu.

Mr Palu acknowledged that Pacific island countries have accessed funding, such as the Green Climate Fund, through multilateral or regional implementing entities, but there is still work to be done.

"Despite that, direct access procedures and reporting requirements remain cumbersome and resource intensive. This overwhelms the limited capacity of our countries, and so while they are doing their bit to strengthen their public finance management systems and at the same time to meet the climate finance fiduciary requirements, to enhance their absorptive capacity, further work is still needed to provide readiness resources and necessary guidance to accessing and managing climate finance processes so that they could be more responsive and considerate."

Mr Palu said this meeting presented an opportunity for Pacific island countries and related partners to share an implementation update, lessons learnt, challenges faced and solutions to mitigate those challenges, and more importantly, to pave the way forward.

By identifying the weaknesses in the public finance management systems and other climate finance policies, the participating countries can strengthen these areas so they are in a better position to not only access climate financing but also manage the funds better, resulting in improved resilience of their respective countries. 

Ms Seneti Popua ‘Aho’s attendance at the Regional Climate and Disaster Risk Finance meetings was facilitated by Pacific iCLIM: Supporting the Regional Management of Climate Change Information in the Pacific and the Institutional Strengthening for Pacific island countries to Adapt to Climate Change (ISACC) projects. The Regional Climate and Disaster Risk Finance meetings and media training held from 25 – 27 June 2019 in Sigatoka, Fiji is supported by the SPC, PIFS, SPREP, GIZ, USAID and Australian Department for Foreign Affairs & Trade