By Stanley Simpson, Climate Pasifika Media
9 December Cancun Mexico - The government of Italy and Pacific island countries today unveiled a model for international cooperation they say can generate action on the ground at remarkable speed and is an example of what to do in practice to address the threat of climate change.
Further – they say the project ensures ownership to communities most affected by the negative effects of climate change.
The partnership between Italy and 14 Pacific island countries is in the area of renewable energy projects with some pioneering, dynamic and groundbreaking projects being undertaken across the region.
It started with a signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in 2007, and was further strengthened in 2008 when the government of Austria and the Municipality of Milan in Italy also joined and contributed to the partnership.
Italy’s Minister for the Environment, Land and Sea Stefania Prestigiacomo revealed today that more than 20 renewable energy projects have been designed and implemented in the 14 countries.
“These projects are contributing to assess the islands vulnerability to long term climate change effects to implement adaptation measures to strengthen the island energy infrastructure through the development of the local renewable energy potential,” she said. “It also ensures increased access to energy services of the islands population particularly for the remote rural communities."
Prestigiacomo stressed that the projects are designed at local scale and are strictly based on islands priorities and specific needs.
Nauru MP, the Hon. Dominic Tabuna in response said Italy and the Pacific have pioneered a unique development system model that delivers tangible results on the ground in a fraction of time. He outlined several reasons for the success of the model:
1. It works because it relies on streamlined vetting and approval process conducted directly by the donors and the recipients. This arrangement avoids unnecessary bottlenecks encountered under other models – where multiple layers of review – often by third parties – delay the commencement of critical projects
2. It works because it establishes clear funding priorities – in this case – renewable energy – giving clear guidance to project planners while also facilitating the review and approval process
3. It works because it operates out of New York at the United Nations. Tabuna says the Pacific challenge has always been its geographical remoteness which makes international coordination very difficult. Only in New York does the Pacific have the permanent presence of 11 Pacific island countries.
“The programme has been a wonderful success. We think it provides an alternative to multi-layered models and could provide a valuable model for the delivery of climate change finance,” says Tabuna.
He stated his belief that this was the single most effective funding model for the Pacific.
“It is responsive to the challenges we currently face in the Pacific. The model has the potential to usher in a new era of development assistance based on mutual trust and cooperation."