- The debate on climate financing is part of an intensely political struggle on the global response to climate change.
- Leaders of Pacific small island states have raised concerns about the complexity and delays of accessing climate funding.
- More targeted action is required to assist vulnerable communities with concrete adaptation programs.
Projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Australian scientific researchers have highlighted the current and long-term challenges of global warming, especially for vulnerable islands in Oceania.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) commits developed countries to provide assistance to ‘developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in meeting the costs of adaptation.’
Although recent commitments of ‘fast start’ climate funding from partners like Australia, Japan and the European Union are welcome, Pacific Island countries face wider obstacles in accessing appropriate and timely levels of funding for adaptation and mitigation to manage the adverse effects that environmental challenges have on core areas for economic, social and economic development.
The experience of Solomon Islands, the first Pacific country to obtain funding from the Kyoto Protocol Adaptation Fund for a project on food security and agricultural production, offers some important lessons for the region.
Greater international coordination is required to increase access to climate finance for small island states. Without this coordination, efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 could be set back, due to the diversion of long-term development funding to disaster response and rebuilding.
Access to climate financing could be improved through seeking special access for small island states that improve donor coordination and build the capacity of national institutions, developing national climate trust funds and a Pacific Regional Climate Change fund and, most importantly, implementing more targeted action on the ground to assist the most vulnerable communities with concrete adaptation programs.