Private sector is a key player

27 June 2019

By Iliesa Tora of the Nuku’alofa Times

Sigatoka, Fiji (Enviro News): The private sector is a key player in climate change and disaster finance work, the Regional Climate and Disaster Risk Forum at the Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort in Sigatoka, Fiji heard this morning.

Panellists from Fiji, Samoa and the Solomon Islands at this morning’s session on ‘Public Private Sector Partnerships (PPP) and Climate and Disaster Risk Finance’ shared their experiences on partnerships in their respective countries.

Setting the scene at the panel discussion, Pacific Island Forum Secretariat/GIZ officer, Mr Ledua Vakaloloma, said the private sector is needed to partner governments in mitigating the impacts of climate change and disasters, which are at the forefront of the development agenda in the region and pose a huge challenge that cannot be tackled by governments alone.

“Governments in the region have a wide range of national plans and policies with priorities that require a significant amount of funding to implement. Pacific island governments alone will not be able to deliver on their National Developed Commitments (NDC) commitments and national plans without the help of the private sector,” Mr Vakaloloma said.

He said Pacific Island governments have always emphasised the importance of the private sector in building resilience to climate change and disaster risks but there have been minimal efforts to engage them, with minimal involvement in an ad-hoc manner. 

This was attributed to the lack of understanding of various international, regional and national policies relating to resilience and the opportunities for the private sector.

However, at the regional level, the Framework for Resilience Development in the Pacific (FRDP) recognises private sector contribution to resilient development in the region through the Pacific Resilience Partnership (PRP) which is the governance arrangement for the implementation of the FRDP and has an established seat for the private sector on the PRP Taskforce.

“This further emphasises the region’s acknowledgment of the private sector’s key role in resilient development,” Mr Vakaloloma said.

“Despite the Pacific private sector’s low capacity and investment capital compared to other regions, there is potential to increase their engagement including increased access to climate change and disaster risk finance. Private sector is generally renowned for its central role as the ‘engine of growth’ with expertise and skills that can support the public sector in delivering efficient services to meet development goals in the areas of safe water supply, sanitation, energy, primary education and health care.”

He said although private/public sector arrangements may have been successful in other parts of the world, the Pacific region is still faced with many challenges of capacity constraints and limited budget.

Under the Green Climate Fund, 11 Pacific Island governments have had projects approved amounting to US$358 million in the past four years.

But the private sector’s role or being a direct beneficiary of these financial flows is still limited.

Mr Vakaloloma said that so far, only Papua New Guinea has been able to access funding through a multi-country project on energy generation and access for the private sector through the European Investment Bank.

Private sector companies are already working with governments on several adaptation and mitigation initiatives such as renewable energy, road infrastructure and sustainable sea transport.

However, Mr Vakaloloma said, for direct access to climate finance, the private sector is usually left out in the initial consultation and project planning stage “which is a missed opportunity for direct contribution to the whole process in terms of utilising their technical expertise and experience”.

Panellists at the panel discussions elaborated on the private sector contributions that are already happening.

Ms Nadia Meredith-Hunt of Samoa, Ms Walolyn Hamata of the Solomon Islands and Mr Ajay Raniga of Fiji shared their experiences on current projects and partnerships their organisations and departments were involved with in their respective countries.

“We are a consulting group that works with the government in Samoa to carry out projects,” Ms Meredith-Hunt from KVA Consult Ltd said.

Ms Hamata, of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury in the Solomon Islands, said they work with different organisations to implement projects in country.

“The private sector is involved at different levels of the work that we do, in partnership with government,” she said.

In Fiji, the delivery of affordable clean energy to rural communities has been made possible under a public-private partnership arrangement through the Fiji Rural Electrification Fund.

A charitable trust was established with an initial seed funding from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation to build mini solar grids in Fijian communities currently reliant on diesel fuels.

Mr Raniga, of Sunergise Fiji Limited, said the aim of the solar project they had implemented on Vio Island, off the coast of Lautoka, is to make these communities self-sufficient clean energy producers.

He said communities such as Vio can now access the enormous benefits of reliable of solar power.

 Mr Raniga said they worked with the Fijian Government to access funding and implement the project.

Participants at the opening session of Day 3 supported the work of the private sector and the critical role they play in the whole climate change and disaster discussions and planning.

And they also called for the Public Private Partnership to be renamed People Public Private Partnership (PPPP), to include members of the community who also become partners in the process.

They said communities partnering with governments and the private sector will ensure that projects are sustainable and successful.

Iliesa Tora’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 (ISAAC) 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.