Financing for adaptation to climate change was a major focus of discussions between the Secretaries General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) at COP 26 in Glasgow, Scotland.
At their meeting on Monday, CARICOM Secretary-General Dr Carla Barnett and her PIF counterpart Mr Henry Puna agreed on the urgency for the developed countries to fulfil their pledge of providing US $100 billion a year to help developing countries, including Small Island and low-lying coastal Developing States (SIDS), combat the challenge of climate change. They agreed that this was critical to assist in meeting the adaptation needs of SIDS.
Dr Barnett stressed the importance of limiting global warming to a minimum of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. She expressed concern that there were early warning signs of leaving COP 26 with limited ambition from major emitters to avert the current trajectory which would take global temperature rise well over 2 degrees by the end of the century.
Mr. Puna, in agreement, identified sea-level rise as a potent threat to security and wellbeing of the Pacific Islands, citing a number of examples in recent years where entire islands were already submerged or rendered uninhabitable due to rising sea levels.
The two Secretaries General focused attention on financing for climate resilience and mitigation initiatives, specifically the challenges of accessing climate financing from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) as a means of funding adaptation. Both CARICOM and the PIF, in meetings with the GCF, have called for the Fund to establish a presence in their regions.
Both Secretaries General lamented the lack of access to favourable financing options due to graduation of their Member States to Middle-Income status. Dr Barnett mentioned CARICOM’s promotion of a multi-dimensional vulnerability index which seeks to change the major criterion for access to concessional development financing from Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This index would take into account the acute vulnerability of SIDS to natural disasters and global economic shocks.
Mr Puna suggested that the COVID-19 Pandemic has resulted in a greater understanding of Development Partners to the vulnerabilities of SIDS and fragilities of their economic sectors, particularly tourism.
The two Secretaries-General expressed concern at the direction of the post-Cotonou relations with the European Union (EU) which appear to be favouring bilateral arrangements as opposed to regional programmes.
They agreed on the value of continued collaboration between their two regions and mutual support on issues of common concern.