Helping Pacific countries
The Green Climate Fund (C.G.F) might have billions of dollars to help countries - especially those hit hardest by climate change - but the pool of money is no use to the Pacific countries if the islands can’t access it.
That is the view of the Director General of the Pacific Community (S.P.C.), Dr. Colin Tukuitonga, who is in Apia this week. He is participating in the 39th Annual Meeting of the Association Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific held at Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel at Vasigano. He is accompanied by S.P.C. Deputy Director of Social Development Division (Gender, Culture and Youth), Leituala Kuiniselani Tago Elisara.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, he admits that the process through which many Pacific countries have to go through to secure such funds is too complex. It’s an area Dr. Tukuitonga assures the S.P.C. is trying to offer help.
“We know from previous experiences that global financing facilities are notoriously difficult to negotiate,” he said. “Having said that Fiji has successfully got a project approved and funded from the G.C.F. and we are hopeful that with support more islands will access it. It’s great the fund is there but accessing it can be an issue.”
According to Dr. Tukuitonga the problem is the “old story of money being allocated for a particular purpose and not being used for that purpose.
“There’s money not being found and money not being used in the right way. It all had to do with requirements and the risk nature of financial institutions.” But Dr. Tukuitonga said some of the reasons for the delay is understandable but generally, he thinks “its perhaps too complex.”
“It’s pointless having a big pool of money when you cant access it,” he said. “The small island state is not like we have a lot of finance whisk kit to enable to do that. Somehow we have to assist countries to access the funds otherwise it’s a pool of money that’s out there and people cant access it…in our view the islands do not have the capability (to access funds).”
He acknowledged the work of S.P.R.E.P. in their part in offering support where needed by islands.
But how can the S.P.C. help the island nations to ensure they can access the funds?
The Director General said the organisation can assist mainly in the preparations of applications.
This can be done through due diligence process about financing procedures, government arrangements, accountability and a whole lot of other requirements that need to be met.
Dr. Tukuitonga also used the opportunity to praise Pacific leaders for getting their message across in the United Nation Climate Change conference in Paris last year.
He compared the moment to David and Goliath where small islands made a big impact on the big industrialized nations and adopted the Paris agreement.
“I think it’s an important blueprint on global work on climate change,” he said. “In this region all islands are at the front end of bad effects of climate change and yet the islands contribute a minimal amount to greenhouse gases. Alongside of that pledge to the Green Climate Fund a substantial amount of money invested by the developed nations in G.C.F. to help developing countries including small island states to implement mitigation adaptation measures and that is a good thing.”
Dr. Tukuitonga said his presentation in the Bank institution meeting held in Apia is on Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and financing that’s required.
S.P.C. having the scientific and technical knowledge also means they are the largest implementing agency in the region for the Millennium Development Goals.
The Director General pointed out the challenges in reaching the goals is funding and data capability to monitor and report.
“We expressed our concerns when we made the first S.P.C. statement in the General Assembly last year and pointed out the monitoring requirement is going to be a big challenge,” he said.
“One is because the small islands don’t have the data and two they don’t have the skills, analytical statistical skills. We can help but we can’t do everything.”
He also emphasised the importance of having money to implement the goals in the S.D.Gs.
“Its all good that these goals are developed but just to implement health or education goals requires money. The conversation is really what these institutions can recommend and options in financing the implementation of M.D.Gs in the region.”
About the last M.D.Gs, Dr. Tukuitonga was honest.
“We didn’t do well in achieving those goals,” he said.
“Niue met the goals but nothing to do with anything than the fact that they have New Zealand citizenship and can go to N.Z. and get it sorted.
“But by and large the region didn’t do so well because there are resource constraints, we don’t have the money, skills so there is a number of constraints. Basically we are asking the bank institutions to find ways to help islands better implement M.D.Gs.”