SG Slade's Remarks at the ADAPT Asia Pacific Annual Meeting, Nadi, Fiji

Address by Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Forum Secretary General

Keynote: The Pacific Regional Response to Climate Financing

Sheraton Hotel, Nadi, Fiji
3rd June

Heads of Delegation of USAID and ADAPT Asia Pacific, the organizers and sponsors of this important meeting,

Donors and Development Partners,

Ambassadors/High Commissioners of the region,

Representatives of CROP agencies,

Senior Officials, and


This is a meeting of considerable significance and importance, and I welcome the active engagement of USAID in these workshops on climate financing and in staging this ADAPT Asia-Pacific Annual Meeting in our region.

Scene setting

On the subject of my address, I commence by saying the the real measure of the Pacific regional response to climate financing lies in its ability to deal with the region’s front-line exposure to a global issue not of its making, and in respect of which the region is severely handicapped not only by its oceanic geography and by smallness and isolation of communities, but more so by the disproportionate constraints in the region’s capacities to react to and to cope with the impacts of global climate change.  The ability so to respond is, by any standard and from almost every aspect, a most formidable challenge.  We know from the experience of individual countries that the matching of needs with available resources is fraught with difficulties and with obstacles, one upon the other.

We also know from the experience of the past twenty years or so in the evolution of climate change negotiations, that the nature and complexity of the negotiations has directly shaped a complex and changing global financing architecture.  The political leadership of the Pacific has reacted accordingly, with requests to support access to and management of resources, aimed at increasing the ability of Pacific communities to more effectively respond to climate change.  The political direction and mandates from Leaders form the basis of the Pacific regional response, which has become consolidated and intensified over the last few years.

Historical context of climate change financing.

The early years of UNFCCC global negations (1990’s), were focused on better understanding the science, and focusing on emission reductions to avoid dangerous concentrations of greenhouse gases.  It was not surprising that at that time much of the climate-related funding, through the GEF for example, was more towards mitigation efforts, aimed at maintaining global environmental stability.  With the region’s combined miniscule contribution of global emissions, interest in mitigation financing for the Pacific tended also to be rather minimal. 

By the turn of the century (2002) it was clear that some degree of adaptation would be necessary as the world was already locked into a certain level of global warming despite curbing efforts.  The Adaptation Fund was established (in 2001 but launched in 2007) with proceeds from carbon markets created as a result of the Kyoto Protocol.  The seriousness of the need for adaptation and thus resources for adaptation responses grew slowly each year thereafter. 

By 2007, with the release of the 4th IPCC Assessment Report and with ever more scientific clarity and less equivocation on human induced global warming projections, the case was almost overwhelming on the need for urgent adaptation measures for the most vulnerable, in particular (for our purposes) small island developing states.  With launch of the Adaptation Fund in 2007, adaptation became a more serious part of the climate change negotiations and calls for increased adaptation funding were very much lead by the developing countries, including from this region.  The G20 the same year launched the new Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) by the World Bank, (about 8billion) which was to help existing climate change efforts until a new framework under the UNFCCC was to be implemented after 2012 (a key time frame year under the Kyoto Protocol). 

Linked to these events, and following a number of alarming reports on likely climate change impacts, including economic impacts, the Copenhagen Accord was agreed in 2009, with major climate change financing commitments (30 billion in fast start funds by 2012 of new and additional funding, and 100 billion per annum by 2020) and with a more balanced proportioning of these resources to account for increases in adaptation needs.  It was then that financing for adaptation really became a priority focus with serious resources potentially being available.  At the same time, skyrocketing oil prices also made the co-benefits of pursuing alternative forms of energy and mitigation efforts more appealing and relevant to Forum island countries. 

Response by the Forum Leaders

Thereafter the focus on improved access to these pledges of climate finance became a central issue for this region.  In 2010, Forum Leaders gave affirmation of the dangers of climate change and issued clear mandate and direction for the strengthening of the abilities of Pacific island countries to effectively access and manage climate change financing. 

While hopes rest on the design and accessibility of the Green Climate Fund, in reality funding for climate change comes from a number of already existing sources.  These include global sources, the multilateral financing institutions, bilateral assistance, private sector and domestic resources.  Strengthening the ability of Pacific island countries to better leverage the easily accessible sources, using the most user friendly modalities of delivery and management, has been the focus of our efforts over the last couple of years.  If we do this with the existing resources available, logic follows that that will help pave the way to other global sources of climate change finance as they develop.

Working as a region, together with SPREP, member countries and other partners, we in the Forum Secretariat have sought to pool efforts to coordinate a number of initiatives in response to Leaders’ mandate and direction and to address the issue of access and effective management of these resources. 

The workshop last week was aimed at bringing participants up to date on this body of work and setting it in the context of country specific circumstances – where, ultimately, these questions can be most satisfactorily and effectively addressed. 

Contextualising the state of climate change finance in country specific circumstances

There remains much debate about defining and tracking climate change finance globally including its relationship to ODA.  This is an important debate, but it remains an ongoing one.  Meanwhile, for the predictability of project funds, among other reasons, we have found that in reality possibly the more productive task was to explore how best to maximise access to and utilisation of all available resources for strengthened development and resilience of countries in region.

As such, defining ‘climate change finance’ should be based on a country’s own climate change needs, and draw from all sources of funding available – be they global, bilateral or domestic.  Indeed, more effectively accounting for the range of resources already being used for climate change related activities within Pacific countries can better inform policy-makers of the existing cost implications: who is currently footing this bill (national treasury, bilateral or other sources?); and accordingly where we should focus attention on leveraging additional climate change finance through modalities commensurate the country’s absorptive capacities. 

To answer these questions and to help develop a more targeted and tailored approach requires the involvement of central Government Ministries, especially of finance and other climate-related Ministries, and of sectors most impacted by climate change.  Yes, it requires effective coordination; and considerable effort and determination to operate a coordinated system.  But, in order to be fully driven by country-systems this is a necessary step to avoid the existing ad hoc approach to climate change projects which has been the basis for inefficiencies and frustration for all.  We believe that having an organised and coordinated country system establishes the basis for effective delivery of resources; and also that having such a system provides considerable weight in building confidence and support in the negotiations with bilateral and other funding donors.

Holistic approach to dealing with effective resourcing for climate change

While many initiatives have been undertaken to address aspects of climate change financing, a core part of the Secretariat’s response has been to develop a comprehensive assessment approach at country level to determine the necessary options and the required steps to strengthen Pacific island countries’ ability to better harness and more effectively utilise resources against their climate change needs. 

This approach builds on existing assessments in different dimensions relevant to climate change and development, and was the focus of our climate change finance workshop last week.

I would note that our objective in the workshop last week was to leave participants with a better understanding of the key considerations required to deploy targeted efforts in climate change financing from all stakeholders perspectives, and firmly guided by Pacific island countries own systems.  I understand that participants have found the workshop extremely useful in helping to set climate change financing in to your country-contexts, and enabling a more accurate viewing of the issues based on the circumstances specific to each country.  I understand that you were able to develop specific country profiles; and that many of you have expressed a desire to undertake further work in the different dimensions to better understand the problems and feasible response options, in particular:

(i)      climate change sources relevant to individual countries;

(ii)     prioritising climate change activities and reflecting this in your policies and plans linked to your own budgetary allocation processes;

(iii)    continuing to strengthen your own public financial management and expenditure systems including the value of being able to account for climate change financing within these systems where appropriate; and

(iv)    strengthening your institutional and human capacities to manage climate change finance and implementation in a sustainable way.

There is of course no one option to fit and satisfy all requirements, and without question you should only implement what is determined to be the most appropriate in the context of your own national circumstances.  Approaching these undertakings with a healthy degree of skepticism is a good thing.  Equally, it is important to appreciate that accessing climate change financing involves country responsibility and requires significant efforts of accountability.

At the same time, it is essential that donors take seriously the need to reduce transaction costs, increase predictability, account for resources they provide for climate change finance even if it is part of their overall ODA packages, and ensure that all efforts are taken to deliver these resources and support to Pacific island countries to address the urgency of climate change. 

But I would need to say that it is simply not acceptable that Pacific countries be asked to account for climate change resources, when donors are not willing to do the same.  Nor is it acceptable to think that the modalities of delivering this finance globally will suit the small administrations of countries in the region.  Modalities of delivery must be tailored to the unique circumstances of small Pacific island countries and wherever possible the use of country systems must be the first option.  But I think we should also be attentive to the opportunities of new and innovative ways of financing climate change, including through the engagement of the private sector and civil society.   


Because of constraining capacities and the myriad of existing development challenges, there is no quick fix to matching easy access to financing to easy and effective ways of addressing climate change challenges.  Therefore, in my view, we must sensibly and systematically strengthen Pacific capacities and capabilities to harness and effectively utilise available resources and opportunities, within the region and among Pacific communities, working together with our development partners, and just as we are systematically taking necessary steps to strengthen the overall effectiveness of our sustainable development efforts.  Specifically, we need to work away at streamlining and integrating efforts in climate change financing with other related sustainable development initiatives under the Forum Compact.  

The work you commenced last week and which you take up again today centres around sound policy-making and effective policy choices and priorities for the benefit of your respective countries and for our region as a whole.  They combine as issues of the greatest practical value in the strategies and implementation frameworks that need to be set in place.  Most warmly I congratulate and thank you all and I look forward to the outcomes of your endeavours and the collective next steps in improving climate change financing for our region.

Thank you.


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