The President of Nauru H.E. Baron Divavesi Waqa said on Wednesday the Green Climate Fund’s recent introduction of a simplified approval process should expedite the flow of climate finance to Pacific Island states.
“This will solve a lot of our problems,” said President Waqa, the incoming chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, during a high-level visit by Pacific Island state representatives to the GCF headquarters in Songdo, Republic of Korea.
Last month, GCF introduced a new streamlined approval process for countries to apply for GCF support for certain small-scale adaptation and mitigation projects with funding from the GCF of up to USD 10 million per project.
The 30-member delegation of Pacific Island representatives, led by President Waqa, met with GCF staff to learn more about climate finance opportunities for low-lying states on the frontline of climate change, as well as highlighting their regional needs.
GCF Deputy Executive Director ad interim Javier Manzanares noted GCF’s close cooperation with Pacific Island states, which currently account for 11 percent of the Fund’s project portfolio – amounting to eight projects totalling USD 282 million.
“GCF has established strong collaboration with Pacific Island states, a model of engagement that we consider should be replicated in other regions,” he said.
“We at the GCF appreciate the urgency needed to support others in taking climate action,” said Mr Manzanares, adding next year the Fund intends to disburse a large number of the currently approved projects.
He added GCF is particularly interested in pursuing opportunities in transportation, climate resilience and the private sector illustrated in concept notes Pacific Island countries have submitted to the Fund to be considered for future funding approval.
Emphasising the urgency of climate action in the Pacific, President Waqa said: “In our neighbourhood, there is more intense weather and more storms occurring. You have higher seas, stronger waves and currents.
“In Nauru, where more than 95 to 98 percent of the population live on the coast, one of our main challenges now is to move our infrastructure to the top of the island.”
While noting the importance of adaption in the Pacific, President Waqa said ultimately global mitigation is paramount in addressing the climate challenge.
He emphasised the importance of last month’s UN Climate Change Conference, labelled by some as the Pacific COP as it was led by Fiji, as “absolutely crucial for keeping other countries on track” in implementing their Nationally Determined Contributions.
The delegation visited GCF as part of its participation in the Korea Pacific Islands Foreign Ministers Meeting – a three yearly dialogue starting in 2011 between the Republic of Korea and the Pacific Islands Forum.