12 May 2019, FEMM, Samoa Government Press Release by Renate Rivers. Expectations that the Forum Economic Ministers would endorse the design of a new Pacific climate fund at their annual meeting were short-lived, with the ministers instead issuing a call for more work before they reconvene at a special meeting in July.
The Forum Economic Ministers aim to finalise the fund design, to be known as the Pacific Resilience Facility (PRF) before the Forum Leaders meeting in August this year.
The delay comes despite widespread consultations on the fund recently undertaken by a Technical consultant.
Forum Economic Ministers’ Meeting (FEMM) Chair and Nauru Minister for Development, David Adeang acknowledged that there was still work to be done before the PRF would be ready.
“Lots of work done since the Palau Forum (last year) but unfortunately some member countries were not able to make their decisions this time due to some issues, to be addressed in further deliberations back home.”
Samoa’s Finance Minister, Sili Epa Tuioti, said excitement has made way for caution and a desire to delve deeper in to certain aspects being proposed for the Facility.
“We’ve come a long way, but now decided we need a bit more time to ensure we have the right sort of architecture.
“We looked at models being developed around different regions and especially the model the Caribbean region has. Obviously we are quite similar to them as small islands, vulnerable to natural disasters.
“We need to look at how best to help our people to get back to family life, how best we can reconstruct our infrastructure assets. It’s not just building but building back better, look at standards that are durable. As we see the frequency of some of the disasters, we need to do a lot better than we did in the past, so we know our people are safe and see the impacts, and we are ready to respond.”
Secretary-General for the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Dame Meg Taylor, detailed some of the specific areas on which clarification is being sought.
“There’s still some clarification on resilience and preparedness and post recovery. Those were the concepts we discussed with the ministers.
“There were quite a few recommendations, but countries wanted to delve into them a lot more, for instance the governance arrangements, the financial model, what would be required of countries and their contribution what they would get out of it.
“I think some of the concern is there is a lot of activity in this field in the region. So where is the niche for this?
“That is a decision that has to be discussed within the governments and the ministers of finance have to discuss.
“In the meantime, the Technical Working Group has been asked to go out and consult much more widely and get a real sense of how the ministers want the PRF to function.”
The Pacific Resilience Facility is a climate financing initiative by Forum members specifically targeting small-scale efforts for strengthening infrastructure resilience. The proposed Facility is unique in that it is intended to fill a current climate finance gap by assisting Pacific communities, businesses and governments to climate-proof infrastructure – such as schools, jetties, ports – before disaster strikes.
A separate climate finance proposal was developed by Tuvalu with the assistance of the Secretariat of the Pacific Environment Program (SPREP).
“There was presentation made by SPREP on this and that’s quite a separate facility. The meeting agreed to note that it be made another item for next year’s FEMM noting further work needed to be done on that initiative,” Dame Meg said.
Despite the delay in finalising the design of the PRF Dame Meg was satisfied with the outcome of FEMM.
Among other measures the ministers agree that Civil Society Organisations be given a permanent place at their annual meeting and oversaw the launch of a new procurement portal which will add to transparency surrounding tender let by the secretariat.
“From secretariat point of view I was very pleased with this meeting,” Dame Meg said.
“We had constructive discussions, and even though the PRF was not one of the decisions, it was the depth of the conversations around resilience that were important.”