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Pacific Access To Finance Solutions Highlighted At Roundtable


21st Jun 2021A roundtable organised by the governments of the UK and Fiji, and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat on 9 June, has delivered an outcomes document aimed at practical priorities for improving access to concessional finance for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Pacific.

The 9 June event was a follow up to a SIDS Finance Roundtable in October 2020 jointly organised by the UK, Fiji, and Belize. At the virtual gathering, 90 participants from Pacific governments, regional organisations and development partners discussed the need to adapt measures of development to better reflect SIDS’ vulnerabilities, and ways to tailor multilateral systems to help SIDS access concessional finance.

Pacific SIDS are particularly vulnerable to economic shocks, including from climate change and – as we are seeing now - from the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, they face capacity challenges in dealing with the sometimes complex or inflexible systems to access development and climate finance.

In a keynote speech Fiji’s Attorney General and Minister for the Economy, Civil Service, Communications and Climate Change Hon.Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum spoke of the “perfect socio-economic storm” created by the COVID-19 health emergency and stressed the urgent need to transition from projectised to programmatic development finance that instils a bottom-up approach to improving absorptive capacity of Pacific SIDS and accelerating post-COVID recovery.

Proposals for action discussed during the Roundtable included debt for climate swaps, reform of the international debt architecture, review of IMF Special Drawing Rights to provide liquidity for SIDS, investment in capacity building in SIDS for long term sustainable and resilient economies, and donor support for insurance to manage risk.

The outcomes of the Roundtable will feed into proposals for action at the Pacific Islands Forum Economic Ministers Meeting this July, and a high-level global meeting in London in September.

British High Commissioner to Fiji, George Edgar said, “The UK recognises the particular challenges faced by Small Island Developing States are exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yesterday’s Roundtable was an important step towards identifying practical actions to facilitate access to development finance for SIDS.”

Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna delivered opening remarks to the Roundtable. Thanking the Governments of the UK and Fiji, and noting outcomes and next steps, he noted how “keynote speakers, panels and comments continued the call for urgent attention to the lack of access to finance for Pacific SIDS. They have generated much needed momentum on a critical challenge at the heart of global development.”

“Our Forum members have raised clear and consistent concerns about access to global development finance for decades. This is critical for our Blue Pacific to progress. I do hope the renewed sense of urgency and commitment from the global impacts of COVID-19 and the climate crisis, will make 2021 the year for affordable, effective finance for our Pacific Island countries and all SIDS,” SG Puna said

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