Mr Ovais Sarmad, Deputy Executive Secretary, UNFCCC Secretariat,
Mr Mohammed Al Tayer, Chairman of the World Economy Green Organisation (WGEO),
Honourable Ministers, Members of the Distinguished Panel,
Invited Guests,
Ladies & Gentlemen.

Bula Vinaka and a very good evening to you all.

I’d like to thank our hosts – the UNFCCC Secretariat and the World Green Economy Organization – for convening these important discussions on climate finance.

Few – if any – headlines that come out of these talks will refer to either the opaque issue of climate finance strategies or the complicated sphere of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) implementation.

Even fewer will refer to both. However, those of us in this room know that climate finance strategies for NDC implementation are inherently linked to the ultimate success of the Paris Agreement and, importantly, to the security and sustainable development of climate-vulnerable nations.

Following the Fijian Presidency of COP23, the UNFCCC Secretariat was mandated to assist developing nations develop country-owned climate finance strategies.

To fulfil that mandate, the UNFCCC Secretariat launched the Needs-Based Finance (NBF) Project, which aims to translate climate finance needs into effectively implemented and fully funded projects that would help us reduce emissions, build resilience, and ultimately meet our NDC targets.

A critical outcome of the NBF support has been the Melanesian Spearhead Group Climate Finance Strategy 2019-2021, which I understand was unveiled in June of this year.

But even with this strategy in place, from where we sit, the current climate finance architecture is overly complicated, costly, and cumbersome.

When we look to secure funding for our NDC, we revert to speaking in mostly acronyms. These acronyms, of course, refer to the more than five dozen national, regional, and bilateral institutions that have a mandate to help Fiji achieve our NDC targets. This also means at least 60 institutions with unique funding requirements. In short, it’s complicated.

Securing funding from even one institution demands a significant amount of our own financial and human resources. Sometimes, these are worthwhile investments that help us strengthen our policy frameworks or enable us to develop viable funding proposals. But, they are always costly – demanding a significant portion of our government’s time, financial resources, and intellectual bandwidth.

And, quite often, the most fundable projects demand data or other information that, quite simply, just doesn’t exist in developing countries, such as Fiji.

For example, our mangroves could be a significant source of emissions reductions and we have thought about including a target for them in our NDC. However, such a target requires a significant amount of data about the current state of mangrove health and coverage in Fiji. That is data we do not have. Although we are working with the International Partnership for Blue Carbon to gather this data, it is a lengthy and intensive process. All for one project to secure the raw data set for one possible NDC target.

We don’t want the architecture that is designed to help us develop our climate finance strategies for NDC implementation to be complicated, costly, and cumbersome. Instead, we want simplicity, simplicity, and simplicity. We want ease of access to climate finance. We want speed of disbursement for climate finance.

We want durable and sustainable investments that are aligned with our NDC targets. We won’t fix these issues by taking them on one problem at a time. We need a comprehensive re-assessment of the development finance architecture as we know it.

Fiji is matching these asks with surging transparency in quantifying what we need to adapt our economy and how we allocate resources to do so. We’ve completed a country-wide vulnerability assessment – in partnership with the World Bank – that has estimated it will cost 9.5 billion Fijian dollars to fully adapt the Fijian economy over the next ten years. Earlier today we launched our Displacement Guidelines, which follow the launch of our Planned Relocation Guidelines at COP24.

We are pursuing innovative financing mechanisms through the launch of Fiji’s Green Bond which has third-party validation from Sustainalytics to ensure the bond funds go directly to climate-related initiatives.
We’ve enacted a new Environment and Climate Adaptation Levy, the proceeds of which are mandated by law to fund climate adaptation and environmental protection projects.

We hope to see such transparency demonstrated when it comes to carbon counting. If we tolerate creative accounting practices and don’t demand transparency in how we credit emissions cuts, we’ll never see the decisive reductions we need, to meet the Paris Agreement’s most ambitious 1.5-degree target.

I hope that our discussions here today shed some light on how to improve the ease of access, the speed of disbursement, the sustainability of the available climate finance and the larger issue of raising ambition in slashing global emissions. But unless we simplify the climate finance architecture, we fall short of implementing our NDCs – no matter how ambitious.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.

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