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Cancun: Samoa and Solomon Islands raise questions on finance

Samoa and Solomon Islands raise questions on fast track finance

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 the same 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.

“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.

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.

ENDS

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