Climate financing must level up for Pacific realities: SG Puna to Climate Finance Talanoa

Opening Remarks by PIF Secretary General, Henry Puna

Talanoa on Climate Finance Effectiveness in the Pacific: Are we on the right track?

Joint initiative by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the United Kingdom Government and UNDP.

10 -11.30 am, Thursday 9th September 2021

Thank you very much distinguished moderator.

• To the Honourable Seve Paeniu, Minister of Finance for the Government of Tuvalu and Chair of the Forum Economic Ministers Meeting;
• Mr Jean-Paul Penrose, Pacific Development Director with the British High Commission in Fiji;
• Ms Diane McFadzien, Green Climate Fund Regional Manager Asia and the Pacific;
• Ms. Raijeli Nicole, Regional Director for Oxfam in the Pacific;
• Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

Good morning, Kia Orana and warm Pacific greetings to you all.

From the outset let me thank the Government of the United Kingdom and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for this this opportunity to address you on the importance of climate finance effectiveness in the Pacific. I cannot stress enough how critical this issue is, especially for our Blue Pacific.

Over recent years we have heard calls from Pacific Islands Forum Leaders and indeed the international community on the need for increased financial commitment to address the dire consequences of climate change as clearly evidenced in the latest IPCC report.

Pacific Island Countries need adaptation action now and with that comes the need for substantial financial flows. Equally important, the increased financial flow must also be matched with increased access for Pacific Island Countries who bear the brunt of these impacts than other regions.

Data from national climate finance assessments conducted in eleven Forum Island Countries by the Forum Secretariat and partners indicate that since 2010 just over 2.2 billion US dollars of climate finance have flowed into the Pacific or approximately 200 million per year compared to the estimated 2 billion annual development aid flows to our region.

Based on these figures, several questions come to mind:
i). First, where do the development priorities lie?
ii). Secondly, how can climate priorities be mainstreamed into development? and
iii). Thirdly, what needs to change for the region to maximise the effectiveness of climate financing?

These are critical issues that Forum Economic Ministers have been discussing over the past decade and most recently elevated the importance of effectiveness and accountability for climate finance that flows into our region. Today, I am pleased to note that your discussions will focus on coming up with solutions to these fundamental questions.

Under the guidance of the Forum Economic Ministers Meeting, a Technical Working Group on Climate Finance and Public Financial Management has been established to facilitate improved access and management of climate finance for Forum Island Countries and one of the key work streams is on climate finance effectiveness.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, while access remains a priority for our region, there must be equal focus on the effectiveness of climate finance to ensure resources accessed achieve tangible impacts at the community level. With the inevitable competition for resources and limited fiscal space, we have to be more innovative and smarter in the utilisation of these resources. To this end, our Leaders have established the Pacific Resilience Facility, as a Pacific owned innovative solution to the issues of burdensome access processes, tailor made community resilient solutions and better responsiveness to our peoples’ needs.

I am aware this talanoa stems from a discussion paper on Climate Finance Effectiveness in the Pacific, jointly supported by UNDP, PIFS and the UK. One of the proposed solutions is through better integration. There is a great need for climate finance to better integrate climate ambition at scale into national development plans and budget frameworks.

The current trend of implementation through project-by-project needs to be revisited given its tendency to create an environment of disconnection from national and regional climate resilience priorities. These projects sometimes escape national and regional monitoring and evaluation efforts making it difficult to identify their broader climate effectiveness.

While acknowledging the support of the international community to date, I believe more can be done. Financing mechanisms can be better adapted to the Pacific context by allowing more scope for risk-taking, innovation and a diverse range of financial instruments.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, as we look towards COP26 in Glasgow later this year, I believe that talanoa sessions like this one, backed by real evidence will help shape our arguments, solidify our positions and amplify our voices to be heard by the developed nations.

In closing, I want to remind us all that we know the scale of the climate crisis we are facing, that we know the scale of the climate crisis we are facing. We know what needs to be done and the actions we must take. Effective climate financing provides the necessary catalyst to ensure we are adequately equipped to overcome and conquer this crisis.

I wish you all the very best as you share your perspectives in this talanoa session and look forward very much to the outcomes of your discussion.

I thank you.–ENDS


Checked against delivery, 9th September 2021


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