A new fund aimed at helping build preparations ahead of disasters to help Pacific nations cut the cost of rebuilding and recovery is doing a stage one launch Wednesday, with the main launch of funding support timed for October 2021.
Forum Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor chaired a senior advisers panel in a special advance media briefing on Monday 19 May, telling regional journalists from all parts of the Pacific the launch of the prospectus and logo is part of a continuing process, and “is just the beginning of the work of really convincing people that this is really important.”
She also noted her imminent departure before the end of this month and the significance of the prospectus and branding launch.
“I’ll be gone in the next two weeks, and this is very important to me because it means for the first time, the Pacific has really struck out to say, we have to start taking control of the institutions which are important for our future.”
Responding to questions on timing of the launch this year, given the global economies are still coming back from the pandemic, Forum Secretariat Director Programmes and Initiatives, Zarak Khan acknowledged “timing has been tricky and a bit of a challenge, as you can imagine, and is not just unique to us but any initiative around the world is being confronted with the number of challenges during the pandemic”
He thanked the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and his office for tremendous support towards the proposed timeframe of October 2021 for the next stage of the launch.
“The proposed timeframe of October 2021 is quite strategic, it’s a couple of months before COP26 is held in Glasgow, but also a couple of months assuming Pacific Islands Forum Leaders (meeting) will be held, so it allows us to build that necessary momentum,” said Khan.
The October global pledging event where global leaders, developed nation development partners will be pitching their support in dollar terms is likely to be where multilateral partners will show how much they believe in the initiative.
Secretary General Taylor and her team made it clear that support would have to be ‘new money’ and not take away from already existing bilateral aid to Pacific Islands Forum members.
The journey of the resilience facility as a standalone Pacific fund was provided in a detailed presentation from Forum Senior Economist Denton Rarawa, who is the former Governor of the Central Bank of the Solomon Islands.
Rarawa pointed to gaps in existing disaster risk facilities for the Pacific, which are only triggered after catastrophic events, with a need from Pacific nations to have access to small scale, smaller funds for projects to help communities prepare and plan ahead of disasters– these are not widely supported or financed.
He explained the design of the Pacific Resilience Facility was influenced by two compelling issues– the need to address extreme vulnerability of Pacific peoples caught in the climate emergency, and the burden of debt distress faced by Forum Islands members.
These key concerns have shaped the prospectus for the facility, its structure and leadership, and the way it will respond to Pacific nations searching for easier ways to access and fund adaptation and advance preparedness against disasters caused by climate change.
The Forum panel lineup of speakers also stressed the new facility will not take away from the multi million-dollar global climate financing mechanisms of the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility, as it will deal with much smaller amounts “focussing very much on individual (countries) and the kinds of projects that just slip through the cracks- usually with people who live in very vulnerable situations” according to SG Taylor.
Forum Programmes and Intiatives Director Zarak Khan and Resilience team adviser Exsley Taloibouri explained the technical aspects of the facility, highlighting how only five percent of global finance resources are dedicated to adaptation and resilience.
Director Khan and SG Taylor explained the governance frameworks and management of the fund would be key.
As the grants from the facility will be given to countries through their government, Director Khan noted partnerships across regional organisations including SPC, to help the Forum strengthen financial management in public spending to ensure Pacific nations can report and acquit spending to international standards.