Samoa has achieved another first in as far as the battle against climate change goes. It has become the first Pacific Small Island Developing State to host a Green Climate Fund (G.C.F) Board meeting.
Held at the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel in Apia, the delegates from all over the world were officially welcomed during a cocktail at the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum on Monday. The G.C.F is the largest dedicated multilateral climate fund and is tasked to serve developing countries by supporting country-driven climate strategies through simplified and efficient application and approval procedures.
Throughout the week, the G.C.F Board members will take in consideration three major proposals for the Pacific. One of these is a US$58 million project for integrated flood management in Samoa.
The other two projects involves Vanuatu and the other one is for seven Pacific Island Countries.
Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells congratulated Samoa for hosting such a great meeting.
“This is the largest climate finance meeting ever held in the Pacific and will bring much-needed attention to the region’s unique and diverse climate financing needs and significant opportunities for investment,” she said.
Holding the meeting in Samoa allows delegates to see and experience first-hand the realities of climate change, she said. From Australia’s perspective, she said the Board should do all that is possible to help.
“Australia spends a lot of money in terms of assisting and building resilience in the Pacific. This is because seven out of the ten most disaster prone countries are in the Asia Pacific,” she said.
“Our Pacific neighbors are on the front line of the impact of adverse climatic events and the Australian Government is committed to helping them build resilience to its impact."
“For example, we visited the Vaisigano river- and we were able to see first-hand the issues with this in Samoa. This issue is something that is common in the Pacific and Samoa faces this issue in relations to water management, river management every day."
“So for us, whether its bridges, whether its water, whether is sanitation or assisting with meteorological or climate information or whatever."
“The better prepared, and the more information our Pacific countries have, the more our people are going to be better prepared so when the disasters do come, we can forecast them better, we can prepare for them better, and we can deal with them much much better."
“So for that reason, Australia as the largest country in the area and the Pacific are our neighbors, and when you do have the largest house in the street, you help your neighbors."
“And that is why Australia is committed to assisting and helping the Pacific.” Asked if we as Pacific Islanders can access these funds, and Mrs. Wells said, “The Green Climate Fund is an important fund. And today, and over the next couple of days, they will be considering various proposals and three of those proposals are being considering at the moment. One is for Samoa, basically for the water management framework for the Vaisigano catchment area."
“There’s another project for Vanuatu and there’s another project for seven countries in the Pacific. What we have tried to do as Co-shares of the Green Climate Fund is actually assist our Pacific Island countries in terms of accessing money, preparing valid proposals for considerations, we’ve chaired information sessions."
“That’s the sort of stuff we’ve done leading up to this meeting.”
Moreover, Mrs. Wells said that if these three projects will be accepted after the meeting, it will make up five projects in the Pacific in terms of climate change.
“The three projects under consideration over the next couple of days are worth a $103 USD million."
“For Samoa particularly, the acceptance if these proposals will make a huge difference in terms of water management and obviously will assist in future to avoid the sort of disasters that we saw with cyclone Evan when that happened."
“As Co-Chair of the Board in 2016, Australia has guided the Fund through its first full year of operation and overseen the rapid progress made in improving its performance and approving more than US$1 billion for climate change mitigation and adaptation activities."
“The Board meeting will consider important issues, including ways to enable easier and faster access to resources. This will be crucial for Pacific Island Countries, where climate related interventions are often smaller in scale and available data are not always up to the task."
“The Board will consider three proposals for the Pacific. First, US$23 million for a project to deliver climate information services for resilient development in Vanuatu with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme."
“Second, US$58 million for integrated flood management in Samoa with the United Nations Development Programme."
“Third, an initial US$22 million for the Asian Development Bank’s Pacific Renewable Energy Investment Programme.”