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Efforts afoot to remove red tape on climate finance

The Commonwealth’s Climate Finance Access Hub has helped mobilise £140 million (T$477.19 million) in climate finance across eight countries who previously struggled to access those funds.

Resources like this and several others are all ways the Commonwealth is seeking to help small states during the 5th Commonwealth global biennial conference on small states in Apia this week.

A Commonwealth study revealed US$4.5 billion (T$11.6 billion) of climate finance was inaccessible to small states between 2010 and 2016.

Travis Mitchell, Head of the Small States Unit of the Commonwealth Secretariat, said that barrier has now been largely removed.

“To put it simply, even though there is a lot of finance generated for small states, the main issue is that the criteria to access those funds is terribly complicated,” he said.

“You can imagine that with small governments, already pressed for time, capacity and skills, it is really a significant burden for countries to produce the documentation necessary to access these funds.

“So the hub has been fantastic in mobilizing millions of dollars for small states by placing advisors in specific regions to help countries produce the documentation necessary to access financing from facilities such as the Green Climate Fund.”

The Climate Finance Hub, established in 2015 by the Commonwealth Heads of Government links technical advisors to small states to help them make successful climate finance applications.

Mr Mitchell said getting technical assistance into governments means the documentation and criteria required will actually be understood by the countries seeking financing, and ensure the integrity of those climate funds.

 “The criteria have its merits, in the sense that governments are mobilizing their tax payer’s dollars and they want to be sure this money will be spent effectively.

“What we’ve done is as an intermediary; provide people skills in processing these documents to help countries provide the necessary information,” said Mr Mitchell.

Minister of Finance Sili Epa Tuitoti said Samoa needs to access the facilities and templates the Commonwealth has built for small states.

“If the research has been done by somebody else focusing on the challenges of the small island states dealing with climate change impacts then obviously we need to tap into their databases,” he said.

“I will be recommending to Government when we meet that we need to ensure that we engage with the Commonwealth Secretariat.”

Sili said the Commonwealth’s proactive approach to the small states has been positive, and now Samoa needs to do its part as well.

“We are getting a lot of support from international organizations but we also need to do our part to mobilize domestic resources and put reserves aside for us to use to respond to disaster.”

In her address to the conference, Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland listed the ways the Secretariat is trying to enable small states to access the billions of dollars available to them.

There is the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub, Disaster Risk Finance Portal, and Financial Resilience for Disaster Framework, as well as 43 implementation toolkits, and the Commonwealth Innovation Hub, a data center on analysis of Commonwealth data.

“We are also initiating informal discussions with our Commonwealth Secretariat partners on a proposed universal vulnerability index which would enable consensus to be built on defining and measuring vulnerability,” Ms Scotland added.


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