SIDS call for action on climate funds

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Regional Office for Asia and Pacific
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Sub-Regional Office for the Pacific
Head of UNISDR, Margareta Wahlstrom, moderating the DRR session at the SIDS Conference yesterday. (Photo: Screenschot from UN Web TV)
Head of UNISDR, Margareta Wahlstrom, moderating the DRR session at the SIDS Conference yesterday. (Photo: Screenschot from UN Web TV)

APIA, 3 September 2014 - “I am not a leading expert but a leading victim in the issue of climate change. Sea level rise is already happening and what is happening in my island, it is not only a problem for all SIDS but for all of us as more than 75 per cent of the world population lives close to coastal areas,” said Anote Tong, President of Kiribati, when he opened the second Stakeholder Partnership dialogue on Climate Change and Disaster Management yesterday at the UN Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Samoa.

According to recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates, if average global temperatures increase by approximately 4˚C, sea levels could rise as much as one metre by 2100, a scenario that would see nations such as Kiribati, Maldives, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu become uninhabitable.

“It is no longer about negotiations. It is about action and we want to be able to go back home with a practical and easy plan to access funds that are already available” added the President of Kiribati, setting the tone for the four hour dialogue on the partnerships and initiatives that are already taking place in the SIDs to help them cope with the negative effects of climate change.

Procedures to access funds are often very complicated and time consuming for SIDS who often have no national capabilities to deal with the requirements.

Rachel Kyte, World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, said: “We need to streamline the available funds and work better together to avoid multiplication and fragmentation, and to leverage the private sector which has a critical role to play to make communities more resilient against disasters.”

A call that was also shared by the Foreign Minister of the Republic of the Marshalls Islands, Tony A deBrum, who asked for more simplified financial mechanisms and more assistance to build the capacity of SIDS to access available climate funds.

More than 300 partnerships to Make SIDS more resilient have now been announced and registered and many are already underway.

The session was moderated by the Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlstrom, who said: “Keeping it simple is a discipline for all of us. The dialogue has shown concrete examples of extraordinary leadership on donor coherence and displayed practical solutions that will make the SIDS more resilient against climate change effects. The challenge remains to make these initiatives scalable and replicable.”

In her closing remarks, Ms Wahlström strongly supported the government of France, host of the next Climate Change Summit in Paris in September 2015 and called for “an actionable and accountable plan on climate change that will be valid for the SIDS and the rest of the world.”

The multi stakeholder “Climate change and disaster risk management” dialogue was co-chaired by Jose Manuel García-Margallo, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Spain and Takao Makino, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Japan.
Andris Piebalgs, European Union Commissioner for Development Commissioner, Ms. Rachel Kyte, World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy, for Climate Change and Mary Robinson, UN Special Envoy on Climate change were the main panelists.

The Climate change and disaster risk management dialogue is part of the six partnership dialogues of the conference. Others will address social development in SIDS, health and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), youth and women; sustainable energy; and oceans, seas and biodiversity.

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