Four new Commonwealth National Climate Finance Advisers get to work in the Pacific supporting climate resilience in Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
As the Government of Fiji responds to the second deadly tropical cyclone to pass through the islands in a month, the urgency of the climate crisis has never been more apparent. ‘Climate finance’ – the funds available to support developing countries in cutting emissions and adapting to climate change – provides a route to improving resilience. Yet, in 2017-2018 only 3% of bilateral climate finance went to Small Island Developing States.
So how can countries like Fiji improve their access to finance that can be used to build resilience in advance of disasters and improve adaptation to the impacts of climate change?
The four Commonwealth National Climate Finance Advisers to Tonga, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Fiji have joined respective government departments to help develop climate strategies and prepare applications to access more finance.
They will work alongside their Government counterparts to raise the level of in-house expertise for designing and securing projects that attract financing.
Adequate financing is needed if climate-vulnerable Commonwealth member states are to convert their newly revised strategies for climate change under the Paris Agreement (their ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’) into concrete investment plans.
To achieve this goal, and more, technical support in facilitating training, knowledge management and sharing lessons learnt from across the Commonwealth are all key activities that Climate Finance Advisers take on as part of the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub.
The three advisers supporting Fiji, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, will additionally be supporting the innovative use of Earth Observation data as a tool to improve access to climate finance.
CommonSensing is a project based on a partnership between these three Commonwealth Member States and a consortium of international partners, including the Commonwealth Secretariat, to develop digital platforms that allow policy makers and trained technicians to use satellite-based information services to enhance climate action (see our brochure for more).
Earth Observation (EO) is a vital tool in planning for and responding to disasters. However, it can also be used to provide evidence and justification in financial proposals to the climate funds. It has the power to collate data points back over a range of years and clearly displays physical exposure to a changing climate. This provides unbiased evidence for indicators that may not have been manually monitored before.
The Commonwealth Secretariat can provide such expertise to Tonga, as well as Fiji, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands under the CommonSensing project, due to the established reputation of the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub as a valuable asset in the effort to ensure small and other vulnerable states secure funding to tackle climate change.
As of February 2021, through its advisers, the Commonwealth Secretariat has helped member countries mobilise a total of $35.9 million of funding for 26 projects through the Hub. Climate Finance Advisors are the key vehicle through which the Commonwealth Secretariat can provide direct support to partner Governments in unlocking climate finance.
Katherine Cooke is embedded in the Ministry of Economy (MoE), Climate Change and International Cooperation Division, Fiji. Katherine has already been supporting the MoE in s establishing a Project Development Unit (PDU) for enhanced access to and effective use of climate finance, under the broader ambit of SDGs. The CommonSensing platform will be anchored within the PDU and will act to bolster evidence-based policy making for greater climate resilience.
In Tonga, Martin Barriteau will be working with Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications. One of his actions will be to help the Government operationalise the Tonga Climate Change Trust Fund to channel finance to local projects demonstrating innovation and delivering results for the community.
Michael Ha’apio, in the Solomon Islands, is supporting the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology to lay the institutional groundwork so that Solomon Islands can become accredited to access climate finance through a national entity, supporting the uptake of satellite data generated through CommonSensing.
In Vanuatu, Diana Hinge Salili will be supporting the Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation by using the CommonSensing tools to strengthen the production of proposals from across Government that will succeed in accessing climate finance and embedding these processes for the future.
The hub-and-spoke design of the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub means that lessons learnt and knowledge generated can easily be shared across Commonwealth Member States. This means that other countries can benefit from the experience of operationalising the first climate change trust fund in the Pacific or from using Earth Observation data in the context of securing climate finance.
Unlocking climate financing for small and climate vulnerable states across the Commonwealth has never been more urgent and we wish these four new Commonwealth National Climate Finance Advisers all the best in their work.
If you want to see how the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub can support your country to increase resilience to climate change, contact Mr UnniKrishnan Nair, Head of Climate Change Section at the Commonwealth Secretariat, at [email protected]