Finance Minister in Fiji to talk climate funding

The Minister for Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, is among other Finance Ministers from the region attending the Forum Economic Ministers Meeting (F.E.M.M.) in Suva, Fiji this week. 

Climate change issues, in particular funding, are the top priorities at this week’s meeting. The meeting allows finance leaders to shape a new climate fund to strengthen structures of vulnerable nations impacted by global warming. 

The Ministers will shape the details to a proposed Pacific Resilience Facility (P.R.F.) that seeks to provide sustainable funding for preparedness and add projects across the region. 

While most climate change funding is geared towards post-disaster relief and recovery, the P.R.F. will focus on investments for preparedness.

The key objective of the P.R.F. is to minimise future loss of lives, displacement of people and extensive economic loss, Pacific Note reports. 

Other participating island nations from the region include Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Nauru, Kiribati, New Caledonia, Australia and New Zealand. 

Chair of the 2019 F.E.M.M., Nauru’s Finance Minister David Adeang said climate change presents challenges to the region and potentially provide huge economic costs for the people in the future. 

“Our ability to build explicit buffers to shocks and stressors to withstand the impacts of climate change and disasters is our constant challenge, exacerbated even more for those economies which face persistent fiscal and current account deficits,” Adeang said in his opening speech Wednesday. 

He said investment in public infrastructure will spur growth to the Pacific economies but “given that climate change and disasters remain the greatest threat to our economies, it is crucial that such infrastructure investment prioritise resilience, including at the community level”.

According to the Asian Development Bank (A.D.B.) Pacific Economic Report 2018, the cost of infrastructure for the Pacific is shocking given its remoteness and dispersion.

The report said the 14 Pacific developing member countries of the A.D.B. are in the global top 15 when it comes to isolation from global trade partners. The ranking is based on a gross domestic product (G.D.P.)-weighted measure of distance from all potential trade partners, adjusting for each partner’s market size, according to the Pacific Note. 

In Palau, President Tommy Remengesau Jr. said there is already a need to respond to potential future costs from climate change.

In February 2018, Cyclone Gita struck Tonga’s Tongatapu and neighboring ‘Eua islands with damage to homes, government buildings, and infrastructure for basic services, including water supply, sanitation, and waste management, electricity, and communications. 

The damage was estimated at US$164 million (T$433.6 tala), equivalent to about 38 percent of Tonga’s annual gross domestic product.

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