ADB to More than Double Climate Financing for Vulnerable Pacific Countries

By Stephen P. Groff

Vice-President Stephen Groff, in Fiji for a COP23 meeting, reveals that ADB will mobilize over $500 million in climate finance for the Pacific until 2021.

Vice-President Stephen Groff, in Fiji for a COP23 meeting, reveals that ADB will mobilize over $500 million in climate finance for the Pacific until 2021.

Bula Vinaka!

I’m here in Nadi, Fiji, for the COP23 Partnership Meeting ahead of the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Addressing climate change is a particular challenge for the smaller Pacific island countries like Fiji. Among the many climate change impacts that wreak havoc here are ocean warming, acidification that destroys reefs, and rising sea levels that threaten low-lying and coastal communities.

Small island states are already the most vulnerable in the world to natural disasters. In the past 35 years, 59 strong tropical cyclones have hit Pacific countries. 

Most recently, we’ve seen cyclone Winston in Fiji in 2016, which caused over $1 billion in damage and losses, as well as Cyclone Pam in 2015, which caused damage and losses, equivalent to two-thirds of Vanuatu’s annual GDP.

[tweet="@spgroff: ADB to mobilize #climatefinance worth over $500M for #Pacific countries #Fiji @COP23 @GCF_News" text="ADB to mobilize climate finance worth over $500 million for Pacific countries"] 

Disasters are expected to get worse with climate change. To help Pacific countries build resilience, at this pre-COP I announced that ADB expects to more than double the level of climate financing we mobilize for Pacific island countries to over $500 million over the next 4 years.

This is consistent with our broader commitment to double annual climate financing in Asia-Pacific to $6 billion by 2020.

Our commitment to increase support for climate change in the Pacific is part of our broader efforts to significantly increase financing for Pacific island countries. 

Reflecting the vulnerability of small island states, we are also providing these funds on increasingly concessional terms.

By January next year, I expect that we will be providing 100% grants to 7 of the smallest and most vulnerable Pacific island states, many of which have limited capacity to take on even concessional debt.

[tweet="ADB to give #climatefinance grants to 7 most vulnerable Pacific states @spgroff ##Fiji @COP23 @GCF_News" text="ADB to give climate finance grants to 7 most vulnerable Pacific states"]

Of course, ADB can only be one small part of the puzzle in helping small island states adapt. Mobilizing global climate resources is also critical. 

In the last 18 months, almost $280 million of the $2.6 billion approved by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) has been for the Pacific. That’s over 10% of the total. 

ADB is proud to be have helped Fiji, Cook Islands, and Nauru gain approval from the GCF for almost $75 million to build resilience against climate change.

I was also pleased to sign agreements today with the Fiji Government and the GCF for an ADB-supported program that will have a major impact on the delivery of water and sanitation services in the Suva/Nausori area, here in Fiji.

While here, I had the opportunity to discuss these issues with the Prime Minister of Fiji, the Attorney General, Minister for Economy, and the CEO of the Green Climate Fund, Mr. Howard Bamsey. I also spoke with Australia’s Minister for International Development and Pacific Affairs, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.

[tweet="#Fiji to host ADB Annual Meeting in 2019, first ever for MDB in Pacific @spgroff @GCF_News @COP23 #Fiji" text="Fiji to host ADB Annual Meeting in 2019, 1st ever for MDB in Pacific"]

ADB has long been a development partner of Fiji, which became a member country in 1970.

Recognizing this important partnership, our 2019 Annual Meeting will be held here in Nadi. This will be the first-ever MDB annual meeting in a Pacific island country. 

I expect that this will allow us to further highlight the specific challenges being faced by small island states.

Fiji is to be congratulated on its global leadership as President of COP23, and I reaffirm ADB’s commitment to scale up the financing and analytical assistance we provide to all Pacific island countries, to help them address their unique challenges, and the critical threat of climate change.

Vinaka vakalevu!