LAUNCH OF THE DRUA INCUBATOR INNOVATION FUND’S SECOND CALL FOR PROPOSALS:
During last week’s National Economic Summit, the views of various stakeholders and constituency groups were brought together in an urgent discussion about our future. This national dialogue was indeed the beginning of broader efforts to reshape a shared vision for the future we want to create for ourselves and for future generations.
In the face of challenges, disruptions, pandemics, and growing global uncertainty, it is more important than ever that we pursue innovation and make efforts to enable innovation within our society. When faced with new challenges we cannot always rely on existing solutions, and often, due to our circumstances, we may be better served if we dare to develop our own means to address threats and challenges rather than depend upon imported ideas and standardised methods.
In June of Last year, The Fiji Government was very pleased to launch the ‘Blue Accelerator Grant Scheme’ funded by the UNDP which has helped to enable the scale up of a range of innovative projects focused on the development of our blue economy. This scheme, the first of iteration of the Fiji Government’s effort to work with partners to promote the use of small grants to deploy climate financing directly into the hands our entrepreneurs, civil society organisations, and communities is part of the broader commitment to financial innovation promoted by the Climate Change Division’s ‘Drua Incubator’.
The Drua Incubator initiative is a small team within the Climate Change Division of the Office of the Prime Minister that is dedicated to the development and piloting of new financial products through partnerships and research.
The small grant schemes funded by different donors and partnerships under the umbrella of the Drua Incubator’s Innovation Fund represent a key element of the Drua Incubator concept. We not only want to continue to encourage the private sector to support national responses to climate change but, now seek to actively provide and incentivise the private sector, civil society, and community organisations to play a direct role in the development of sustainable solutions.
Fiji has been very fortunate to have received funding from the Government of Luxembourg to design and enable the operations of the Drua Incubator team.
This intent and partnership has been in place for over five years and we thank the Government of Luxembourg for the trust and faith in our efforts to manage systemic risks and use innovative approaches to address loss and damage. Today we are very pleased to announce the next step in this partnership and the launch of a new small grant scheme and call for proposals.
But before I do so, it is important to emphasise that, these small grants are purposed to recognise concepts and ideas that are impactful and can be sustained. We want these small grants to seed the potential for transformative action and investment not just ambition.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we need a step change, one that prompts the immediate and dramatic reduction of carbon emissions globally but also one that changes the way we use financing to support socio-economic development.
We, as a small island state, cannot unilaterally assure that this shift will happen.
Unfortunately, we have also seen that we cannot bank on climate financing being adequate and timely. What we must do, here in Fiji, in all our efforts, is actively do what we can, here and now, to build resilience across our society. While we can advance these efforts through large projects and infrastructure initiatives, we also must increasingly find ways to trigger innovation and action at the local level and a major part of this effort must involve the support and drive of the private sector and non-government actors.
With this in mind, it is my pleasure to officially launch the Luxembourg-Fiji Drua Innovation Small Grant Scheme.
Starting from Tomorrow – the 27th of April, companies, NGOs, community cooperatives and individuals will have the opportunity to apply for small grants of up to 75,000 dollars. The initial deadline for submissions will be the 29th of May.
The award of these grants will be merit based and based on the indicators and requirements that have been set in the ‘call for proposals document’ to ensure these investments create sustainable outcomes and that the initiatives themselves are well aligned with key national objectives. The grant review committee will be guided by the principles and focal areas set out in the Call for Proposals document that will be posted on various social media platforms shortly and be accessible through the Climate Change Division’s National Climate Change Portal.
Over the next 4-week period we encourage the submission of proposals that seek to diversify businesses and build resilience and will conduct further awareness raising activities to ensure a diverse involvement in this scheme.
As will be expanded upon in the presentation to follow my remarks, we have identified two cross cutting themes that we hope to see considered and integrated within proposals.
Firstly, we are seeking proposals that take into account and address gender inequality issues recognising that these existing issues are at risk of exacerbation by the impacts of climate change. We must ensure these considerations are part of our climate solutions, not separated from them.
Secondly, in light of the escalating impacts of climate change and increasing international attention to existing gaps in global climate financing arrangements, we encourage proposals that specifically seek to minimise and/or address climate-driven loss and damage. We know the impacts of climate change too well and must bring attention to the solutions that can be applied to manage unavoidable losses and the residual damage that often falls on the shoulders of small businesses.
Through public consultation we have identified 5 priority intervention areas to promote through this call for proposals. These priorities are detailed in the call for proposals document which will be available shortly.
So, if you are a small business with an idea or proposal that will help reduce risks to your supply chain but lack the capital or development budget to move forward, a community with an approach to livelihood diversification which is scalable and aligned with national social protection priorities, or a young entrepreneur seeking seed funding to start a new climate-smart business – this is your opportunity to turn ideas into action.
This second call for proposals under the Drua Innovation Fund, is focused on providing resources to support activities that are aligned with the principles of our new Climate Change Act. As we prepare for the entry into force and implementation of this legislation over the coming two years, it is imperative that we prepare for the collaboration, information sharing, and cooperative and innovative financing arrangements it seeks to enable and incentivise.
We cannot address risks that we cannot understand or foresee, and the Act seeks to support the transition to a more dynamic, adaptive, cooperative economy in which foresight and risk awareness help to support smart investment decisions and enable the private sector to evolve with the changes and transitions we are set to achieve.
The Climate Change Division in partnership with UNDP will be accepting proposals over the next 4 weeks until the 29 of May. Later this month we will host information sessions on the scheme and its requirements. By tomorrow, the relevant documentation and requirements as well as application forms will be available online. Please check the Fiji Government Facebook page for details.
Ladies and Gentlemen, our awareness of risk and change is not lacking across our sectors and communities. However, we need to evolve our tools and practices and services to ensure we can rise to the challenges we face. It is our sincere hope that initiatives like the small grant opportunity launched today can help to seed solutions and identify innovations that can be scaled and replicated for the benefit our children and future generations.