Wednesday 1 December 2010

Samoa and Solomon Islands raise questions on fast track finance

“It’s one thing to pledge funds and another to provide them so that countries can access them and translate them into activities on the ground."  - Ambassador Colin Beck, Solomon Islands Ambassador to the United Nations.

By Makereta Komai, Climate Pasifika Media, Cancun, Mexico

30 NOVEMBER 2010 CANCUN, MEXICO --- Hopes of accessing US$10 billion in fast track finance promised at last year’s climate change negotiations is slowly turning to despair for many vulnerable nations, whose interests were prioritised in the Copenhagen Accord.

Two small island states in the Pacific – Samoa and Solomon Islands – tell a similar story.

Samoa’s Ambassador to the United Nations in New York, Ambassador Elisaia Feturi said while his country does not doubt the commitment of rich nations to deliver on their promises, he’s called for more clarity in the process. He said information sharing is urgent to help this especially on the level of unallocated pledges and accessibility criteria given the limited life span of the fast start finance.

Ambassador Feturi (Left) and Ambassador Kalpokas of Vanuatu

“The fast start financing was a commitment made at the highest political level and the expectation was for everyone to benefit, the least developed countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing states (SIDS) amongst the priority beneficiaries, said Ambassador Feturi.

The US$10 billion promised by developed nations in Copenhagen was for 2010.

“For good measure, Samoa is already benefitting nationally and regionally from FSF resources from Australia, Japan and the EU, said Ambassador Feturi.

His Solomon Islands counterpart, Ambassador Colin Beck said if vulnerable states are to benefit from the fast track fund, then they must have representation on the body to co-ordinate distribution of the funds.

“Least developed and Small Island Developing States must have a say in how the funds are to be disbursed. Until we have some sort of an arrangement, we are worried that come the end of 2010, no funds will be disbursed.

Ambassador Beck being interviewed by international media
In addition, Ambassador Beck urged the rich and developed nations to be more transparent in their funding process.

“It’s more to do with building trust between all Parties and this is where I believe the negotiations here in Cancun are important, to achieve that goal.

Apart from the fast track finance, which is expected to reach $30 billion by 2012, very little funds have been accessed by Parties, especially small island states from the Adaptation Fund and the Least Developed Countries Fund. These funds were set up under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to help Parties adapt and mitigate against the impacts of climate change.”

“It’s one thing to pledge funds and another to provide them so that countries can access them and translate them into activities on the ground.

“There are a lot of pledges but we are not sure where they are and whether it’s new and additional to their current overseas development assistance (ODA), said Ambassador Beck.

At a briefing Tuesday, the European Union (EU) convened what it called a progress briefing on their pledges. The EU, along with Germany, Portugal, France, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom are the major contributors of the fast track funds.

“We want to ensure there is transparency in the delivery of the fast start funding, said the EU briefing paper obtained by Climate Pasifika Media.

The EU promised to report annually to the Conference of the Parties (COP) on the implementation of its fast track financing commitments.

Of the US$30billlion committed for 2010-2012, the European Union has pledged approximately a third of the amount, US$9.3 billion.

“The EU is striving to allocate funding where it is most needed, for example, adaptation – priority is given to the most vulnerable and least developed countries, said the EU brief.

But, the two Pacific diplomats based in New York who have been part of the COP process for number years are not clear on the criterions for the disbursement of funds.

“I think there may be funds committed for LDCs and small island developing states (SIDS) but we are still not sure where they are and how can we access them, said Ambassador Beck.

Mixed responses to PNG’s call for voting at the Cancun climate change negotiations

By Makereta Komai, Climate Pasifika Media in Cancun, Mexico

30 November, Cancun, Mexico - Even though voting is an available option under Article 42 of the Draft Rules of Procedure for the Conference of the Parties (COP), it has never been used in the proceedings of the COP meetings, which is now in its 16th session.

“Voting in Article 42 remains in bracket and has never been applied, like the other rules of procedure:, said Espen Ronneberg, climate change adviser of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

The draft rules were proposed for adoption at COP 1 in 1995, but a deadlock remained until COP 2 in 1996, when it was agreed that the rules would be applied with the exception of the paragraph relating to procedures for voting by Parties. For 16 years, all of the COP decisions have been by consensus.

The draft rules states that voting will only be considered if Parties have exhausted all means of trying to reach an agreement through consensus.

“At that time, developed countries wanted a double voting system, where on simple issues you would only need a majority of the Parties. However, on what was described as more substantive issues, such as voting on issues like financing, there was a demand that a double majority would be required, based on the Party's financial contribution to the process. This was not accepted by developing countries and was put on hold”, said Ronneberg.

The UNFCCC Secretariat administering the COP processes has been, as Ambassador Colin Beck of the Solomon Islands put it, ‘simply applying the rules of procedure rather than adopting it.’

Ambassador Beck preferred to be cautious on PNG’s call for the activation of Article 42 of the draft rules of procedures.

“Depending on which side of the fence you are, I feel that consensus is still the best way to reach an agreement at the climate change negotiations.

“We did it with the UN Climate Change Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, the Nairobi Plan of Action and other climate change related agreements. And I am confident that we will, through consensus be able to find common ground here in Cancun”, said Ambassador Beck, who has been one of the Pacific’s leading negotiators on climate change for many years.

Whether it’s the right time to bring it to the COP process, the Solomon Islands diplomat did not want to put a time frame to it except to say that “negotiations here in Cancun need all the Parties to be flexible, with a common goal of achieving an agreement”.

“With climate change, we are dealing with the need for a commitment for global action, which means there must be consensus. I’d commend to Parties the issue of voting can be brought back to COP once a legally binding agreement is in place, said Ambassador Beck.

Not totally ruling out the need to consider the option of voting, the Solomon Islands diplomat said there may be a need for voting, which can work – both in favour and against the interests of small island nations, who don’t have greater number in the negotiations process.

His comments were supported by Ronneberg, who believes that frustration amongst Parties has led to the move to push Article 42 to the fore.

“Whether it’s the right time or not, that will be decided by the Parties, but we have to consider the possibility that it will not always be in our favour for Small Island States to put things to a vote. We may run the risk of being out voted in some cases as well.

“It’s good on one level, but we have also seen that it can be used purely for tactical reasons. That is when we run into this problem, which is frustrating the process.”

In June this year, at one of the negotiating sessions in Bonn, the four countries were able to hold up negotiations despite the overwhelming majority of more than 100 Parties in favour of the Alliance of Small Island States proposal for a technical paper on the social and economic impacts of the mitigation scenarios of a global temperature commitment of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The debate on whether to introduce voting or not has been referred to a consultation convened by the President of COP16, Patricia Espinosa. She is expected to report back to the plenary session later in the week.

“It looks likely that the issue with be ‘held off until the next session,” said Ronneberg.

Nairobi Work Programme: Lack of options for Kiribati

“I would urge that if there is a next phase of the Nairobi Work Programme, the views of the most vulnerable group, SIDS and LDCs are included, representation of the different groups and geophysical aspects are given due consideration, so there is a full suite of options for all countries.” - The Director of the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development for Kiribati, Ms. Tererei AbeteReema.

30 November Cancun Mexico - Kiribati shared a powerful message at the Climate Change talks in Cancun, reminding the world that when it comes to climate change adaptation, a one size fits all solution will not work.

The intervention was made on the Nairobi Work Programme (2005 – 2010) which was designed to help countries improve their understanding and assessment of impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change.

The five year programme also had the goal to help with making informed decisions on practical adaptation actions and measures to respond to climate change. It was designed to help all parties, in particular the developing countries including the least developed countries (LDC’s) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

However Kiribati did not agree that the Nairobi Work Programme was well designed and covered all countries.

The Pacific island nation did agree with Argentina in saying the outreach of this was limited and there was a great gap between the engagement of the international community and the lack of awareness of the Nairobi Work Programme amongst the national and sub-national stakeholders.

“We see the need to strengthen existing dissemination channels and communication mechanisms at regional and national levels particularly in LDCs and SIDS. In Kiribati, internet is quite a luxury for web-based medium of communication and access to information. We always have problems with browsing a website or download information for more than 3 minutes.”

The Director of the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development for Kiribati, Ms. Tererei AbeteReema also pointed out that while the Nairobi Work Programme empowered countries to make informed decisions for some countries, without funding to trial or test the methodologies and tools Kiribati could not assess their effectiveness or be assured that they were not mal-adaptation options.

As for other options and solutions for adaptation provided by the Nairobi Work Programme, in the case of Kiribati, these were inadequate.

“Kiribati is very interested in any adaptation programme due to its extreme vulnerability to climate change impacts, compounded more by our least capacity and limited means to, respond appropriately.

“For instance, as a coastal nation, we regard the generic adaptation options for the coastal zones with disappointment as it has not identified more options.

“The three options are: retreating, accommodating and protecting.

“Kiribati is unable to retreat because either ways, we will be floating in the sea surrounding us. Relocating is impossible since we do not have higher grounds and in terms of protection, we do not have the means. The only option left for us is accommodation, a middle ground in making changes to cope with climate change impacts and hence, in our view the Nairobi Work Programme advice does not go far enough.”

Kiribati ended with words that will hopefully remain with all during the course of the next two weeks of negotiations, the message that everyone needs to be considered and fully represented when it comes to combating climate change, including the Small Islands Developing States and Least Developed Countries.

“In closing, I would urge that if there is a next phase of the Nairobi Work Programme, the views of the most vulnerable group, SIDS and LDCs are included, representation of the different groups and geophysical aspects are given due consideration, so there is a full suite of options for all countries.”

To learn more about the Nairobi Work Programme please visit:

Scene@COP16: Gender CC - Women for Climate Justice

Gender CC Booth at Cancun COP 16

30 November, Cancun, Mexico -“Gender CC - Women for climate justice” is at the Cancun Climate Change talks, working towards integrating gender issues into the climate change policy. This alliance is also a network of organistations that are involved in gender issues. Within the UNFCCC, the Women and Gender Constituency has approved observer status which allows for them to make statements during the main gatherings.

Koin Etuati, Energy Programme Assistant, Energy Programmme, Secretariat of the Pacific Community:
“We have worked on gender and energy in the Pacific region, we have moved the issue forward incorporating gender in the energy policies and also into the energy project so one of the side events we will highlight at this COP, is what we are planning in the Pacific region to help with further carrying out this work."

L - R Koin Etuati and colleague at the booth

Scene@COP16: Project Youth Survival

L - R: Krishneil Narayan, Luana Bosanquet-Heays, Penelope Ward, Romita Datt

30 November Cancun, Mexico - A team of four Pacific youths are here at the Cancun climate change talks to support the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) in whatever way is needed, be it research or to administer and action task. The Project Youth Survival team have already let their voice be heard here in Cancun on day two of the negotiation talks, having met with the President of COP in Cancun they raised concerns about the 1.5 mandate for AOSIS and it not being reflected in the Copenhagen Accord.

The four youth are strong in their convictions and are looking forward to the two weeks ahead to help raise the Pacific voice. Two of the youth are from Fiji, one from Australia and one from the Cook Islands. Of these four – two of them were also at the 15th Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen last year (Fiji, Cook Islands).

Penelope Ward, Coordinator:
“We are the delegation sent by Project Survival Pacific which is about building representation and capacity in the pacific so every year we send a Pacific youth delegation to the COP. What hope to achieve is multi-fold, we have policy imperative which is supporting the Alliance Of Small Islands States (AOSIS) in their push for 1.5 degrees and on the flip side we are also here to build a movement and support of Pacific Island culture and show people visually what’s at stake and what there is to be celebrated about these beautiful places.”

Krishneil Narayan (Fiji – also attended COP 15 in Copenhagen):
“This year I’d like to see a more focus on the Pacific islanders especially this year, more focus on adaptation and adaptation funds to come through the 1.5 mandate, a lot of Pacific Island build up and have more representation in these negotiations

Luana Bosanquet – Heays (Cook Islands – also attended COP 15 in Copenhagen):
“Was I discouraged by last year? Absolutely, I mean last year it was a bit overwhelming and we put our heart and soul into it and there was this real message being sent out that this was our last chance and when no deal came out of it you do feel discouraged as you have put all your heart and soul in it but as a Pacific youth we were able to create awareness and engage other people in the process.”

Romita Datt (Fiji):
“This year I would like to see is our world leaders give us more promising results and more focus on the Pacific as we have the most vulnerable islands, our homes and livelihoods will be affected so we would like to see leaders of the world stepping up and taking the role in saving the small island nations.”