In addition to its worldwide activities, AFD has been deeply rooted in the Pacific for the last 75 years. As the only European development agency present in the Pacific, AFD's regional strategy, focusing on the challenges of climate change, green finance, biodiversity conservation and the Ocean we share, directly resonates with the challenges of the Blue Pacific. The development of its regional activities is aimed at a strengthened and long-term partnership with the Pacific Island States and Territories (directly and through the Pacific Community (SPC), the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) and the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF)).
Fiji is obviously among the region's privileged partners. AFD operates in Fiji through regional projects in response to shared climate change and biodiversity issues and to develop joint solutions. As the whole region, Fiji is particularly exposed to the risk of natural disasters and already suffering the effects of climate change (rising temperatures, sea levels, cyclones, etc.).
Fiji already directly benefits from many regional AFD led programs.
The Kiwa initiative financed by AFD, alongside the European Union, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, aims at strengthening Pacific Island ecosystems, communities and economic resilience to climate change using nature-based solutions (NBSs) by protecting, sustainably managing and restoring biodiversity. The program also strives to pool the efforts of financial partners while at the same time fostering regional cooperation. It supports 5 regional projects and 3 local projects in Fiji. Concretely, those projects will support food security and biodiversity conservation using agroecology and sustainable agriculture methods, reforestation, watershed management, conservation of coastal ecosystems, mangroves and coral reef areas, solutions to reduce coastal erosion and flooding, invasive species management…
Fiji is also a key partner in such regional program as PPHSN - Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network (implemented by SPC), DIRECCT (EU delegated funds) and SWAP – Sustainable Waste Management Program (implemented by SPREP) with a view to strengthening its capacities respectively its public health surveillance system, the country's digital services (in the health and education sectors) and waste management (waste oils, marine waste, waste from natural disasters).
AFD, with the support of the French Embassy is also exploring further support to Fiji through bilateral projects, responding to Fiji's partners priorities, especially regarding i) the Ocean (including marine and coastal territories and resources, maritime sectors, resilience of ecosystems) ; ii) Greening and consolidating the financial systems ; iii) Accelerating the energy transition.
After two difficult years of "remote" cooperation, the AFD team is back in force. It has spent the last two weeks listening to partners in order to better understand the local context, accelerate the deployment of projects and identify new opportunities for cooperation where AFD could add value.
A series of meetings have been held with local partners focusing on the financial system challenges. On the one hand, the intensification of the climate change and natural disasters effects represent a significant risk for the financial sector that needs to be addressed. On the other hand, the financial system presents a large potential of opportunities to leverage more sustainable investments. Building on its worldwide expertise in this field, AFD objective is to contribute to strengthen the links between central banks, "green" financial actors and public development banks in Pacific countries.
During this field trip, AFD signed a letter of intent with Fiji Development Bank, initiated promising exchanges with BRED Fiji and conducted very fruitful discussions with RBF – Reserve Bank of Fiji and PIF – Pacific Island Forum, addressing also the regional challenges with regards to green finance.
The AFD team has also met with the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of rural and Maritime Development, the Ministry of Fisheries as well as with key players such as EFL or Fiji Port Corporation. Key challenges have been identified with regards to climate change: promoting sustainable and inclusive competitive maritime sectors; supporting the conservation and management of marine and coastal territories and resources; strengthening the resilience of ecosystems, populations and infrastructures; accelerating energy transition…
AFD team stands ready and determined to further explore and identify the best way to help address those challenges, be it through financing and / or technical support. Research programs could also be developed to back policy makers with informed decisions and reach maximum impacts at the lowest possible cost.
The team also took advantage of the trip to meet with the European Union and the region’s development partners (WB, JICA, GGGI, New Zealand, Australia, USAID…) so as to coordinate action, avoid duplication, and achieve maximum impacts for the benefit of the Fiji population now and tomorrow.
"We are very happy to finally be back in the field, at your side. We are delighted with the renewed trust of our partners and the great prospects for cooperation that lie ahead. The partnership with Fiji is a key element of our action in the Pacific. Climate urgency and debt management in particular seem to be key to the country's development and I sincerely hope that the programs we support, will quickly have concrete impacts and contribute to offering Fijian people a better future." Virginie Bleitrach, AFD's Pacific Ocean Regional Director.
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