Cook Islands’ profile on the international stage has never been higher than it is today, says Prime Minister Mark Brown.

Speaking in Parliament last week, Brown cited the success of the COP28 climate change meeting in Dubai and the hosting of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting this year.

As key achievements, Brown highlighted the establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund at COP28 and the implementation of the Pacific Resilience Facility (PRF) at the Forum.

Speaking to Cook Islands News on COP28, the Prime Minister said there were some highlights from the high-level segment meeting, particularly with the establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund.

He said the Loss and Damage Fund took decades to get any recognition, but with only half a billion dollars in initial commitments, the bigger concern now rests on the disbursement mechanisms.

Brown however said he was pleased with the Pacific Resilience Facility which has received support from the Saudi Arabia to the tune of $50 million.

“That has now been put out there to the rest of the world during COP28 and we now look to other countries to also contribute to that one, which is more directly linked towards the specific needs of Pacific Island countries.”

When asked if the Loss and Damage Fund could be channelled through the Pacific Resilience Facility, Brown said: “We have set it up as a facility for disbursement of funds. So, for our own Pacific Resilience Facility, we can have it sitting under there. We have some climate mobility financing that we would look to put under the Pacific Resilience Fund as well, to be dispersed in its own way.”

“We would look at the loss and damage for the Pacific region. We have already made a financial vehicle for the disbursement of those funds in place so they can use the PRF to put Loss and Damage Funding into the Pacific countries.”

In Parliament, Brown reiterated the PRF’s purpose as a means for Pacific countries to access climate financing with greater speed and ease. He described Saudi Arabia’s $50 million contribution, delivered during the Forum hosted in Rarotonga, and Australia’s subsequent $100 million commitment at COP28.

“So, we are well towards our target of a half billion dollars to help Pacific Island Countries with resilience building projects in the face of climate change and infrastructure protection.