One of the key announcements made at the second edition of the One Planet Summit held in New York on Wednesday, September 26, was that 21 million euros will be made available to small island states and territories in the Pacific, to help them improve protection of their biodiversity and adapt to the effects of climate change.
The Summit also saw the launch of the Pacific Initiative by Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the European Commission, Australia, and New Zealand, thereby giving concrete expression to a commitment announced during the first Summit in December 2017.
There’s no denying that the small Pacific islands are at the front lines of climate change: they are witnessing a growing number of extreme weather events (storms, flooding, etc.) and are threatened by the rise in sea level and the erosion of their biodiversity, whose wealth is unique in the world and essential for the survival of local communities.
The Pacific Initiative will focus its action on 19 countries and French overseas territories: New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Tonga, Samoa, the Cook Islands, Niue, the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, the Solomon Islands, Nauru, Pitcairn, East Timor, and Vanuatu.
Priority on biodiversity and adaptation
The initiative concerns i) conserving and restoring marine and land biodiversity and ii) anticipating the effects of climate change by reducing the vulnerabilities of each island.
To achieve these aims, thE coalition will support local projects, mainly through the intermediary of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), two regional development cooperation organizations that have long shown their skills in project management at the regional level.
The Initiative has already identified an initial project for financing: with a grant of 3 million euros, it aims to develop good practices in waste management in the Pacific region.
AFD mobilizes 10 million euros
The 21 million euros mobilized is mostly in the form of grants. AFD is contributing 10 million euros, as is the European Commission. Australia and New Zealand, which have joined the Initiative, will provide 1 million Australian dollars (0.6 million euros) and 1 million New Zealand dollars (0.5 million euros) respectively.
With this as a start, the Pacific Initiative is sure to grow. We’re now seeking to convince other partners to finance evermore ambitious projects in the region.
The Initiative’s governance will be ensured by a Strategic Orientation Committee representing each of the member-donors. It will meet twice a year. AFD will take charge of the secretariat, via its Pacific regional service in Nouméa, New Caledonia. It will play a key role in guaranteeing coherency in the actions undertaken in the Pacific region.