|Dr. Jonathon Pershing, Deputy, US Special envoy on climate change|
By Makereta Komai, Climate Pasifika in Cancun, Mexico
03 DECEMBER 2010 CANCUN --- The race is on to disburse the US$10 billion committed for the fast start finance for 2010.
With only just over 20 days left to the end of the year, rich nations who’ve promised funds are now acting with haste to spend the money before the next commitment period.
Increasingly this week in Cancun, a number of these nations have convened special briefings to spell out how and who will benefit from their bilateral and multilateral funding commitments.
The United States announced on Thursday it was working towards spending its US$1.7 billion in fast start finance committed for 2010.
US deputy special envoy on climate change, Dr Jonathan Pershing reiterated that the US was moving quickly to disburse the funds to ‘help address the urgent and immediate needs of the most vulnerable countries.’
“We are working to make critical investments today that have short term transformative impacts and to scale up resources quickly by delivering assistance through existing funding channels".
The majority of the U.S climate finance is administered by USAID and the departments of State and the Treasury.
In the Pacific, the U.S has promised US$21 million to assist Small Island States adapt to climate change, as announced by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton last month on her tour of Asia.
Apart from the announcement of the fund by Secretary Clinton, no other information is available on how the fund will be distributed amongst the Pacific Island Countries, some of whom fall under the category of vulnerable states.
Myra Moekaa, head of Cook Islands delegation here in Cancun told Climate Pasifika Media the smaller islands in the Pacific hope to get a meaningful share of the promised U.S fast start finance.
“We hope that bulk of the fund doesn’t only go to the larger countries and consideration be given to adaptation projects on the ground and not simply for enabling activities and pilot projects. We’d like assistance with the concrete projects on the ground, said Ms Moekaa.
Ambassador Colin Beck of the Solomon Islands says changes in the U.S internal politics could affect the flow of the US funding commitments.
“The Republicans now have a majority within the House of Representatives and they have in no uncertain terms, given the domestic stress on their financial situation say whether the climate change money will go out to developing countries as committed under the Copenhagen Accord.
But, that again from media sources and from reactions of various letters by republicans within the system, said Ambassador Beck.
The U.S will re-open its development aid office, USAID in Suva to serve as a base for its work in the region.
To date, very little information is available publicly on how the US$21 million will be spent in the Pacific.
“USAID offices are our links to disbursing the funds, said USAID senior official, Maura O’Neill via telecast from Washington D.C.
She clarified that funds available for 2010 on climate change are ‘indeed new and additional’.
“These are scaled up finances and represents significant new dollars in our overseas development assistance (ODA), said O’Neill.
Information on the fast start finance is available on http://www.faststartfinace.org/