Better prepared Pacific
Forum proposes Resilience Facility
By ILIESA TORA
Suva, Fiji – May 6, 2019: 9.15pm (Nuku’alofa Times): Pacific resilience is taking a new angle, with the proposed Pacific Resilience Facility high on the agenda of this week’s Forum Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM) here at the Forum Secretariat in Suva.
Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) Economic Adviser Raymond Prasad told the media at the Forum Secretariat today that the PRF seeks to build resilience of governments, private sector and communities through upfront investment on preparedness to mitigate risks from climate change and disasters, while reducing recovery costs.
He was speaking at a panel during the Pacific Journalists’ Dialogue.
“We are talking about empowering communities to be prepared – it is like exams, the better prepared you are the better your mark,” Mr Prasad told journalists
Community grants will be available to retrofit community halls, schools, jetties and other critical infrastructure.
Lives, livelihoods and valuable community assets will be protected before cyclones or other disasters hit.
“(the) grant can be small .. but can save hundreds of thousand dollars,” Mr Prasad said.
Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor said she hoped Pacific governments and development partners would help the facility reach its goal of at least USD$5 billion in capital.
“Most financial support for Pacific countries tends to focus on post-disaster relief and recovery. This Facility seeks to build resilience of governments, private sector and communities by investment on upfront preparedness,” she said.
“The PRF responds to the urgent need to invest upfront in building the resilience of Pacific communities. Global research shows that for every $1 spent on building resilience, $7 is saved in response and recovery. Similarly, $1 in $3 spent on development assistance is wasted, due to limited focus on resilience investment.”
Dame Meg said the PRF was not taking away any of the current facilities available, like the Green Climate Fund or the Global Environment Facility.
“I have two important key messages on the PRF. Firstly, I would like to emphasise the point of difference of this proposed facility with the other resilient financing facilities available in the region. It is important to note that this facility will complement existing facilities by focusing on low quantum and easily accessible financing for resilient investments,” she said.
“This facility does not intend to compete with the larger multilateral financing mechanisms – it responds to a call by Pacific Governments for easily accessible, affordable and effective financing products.
“Secondly, is that fact that is an initiative and solution born from the Pacific. It is designed for Pacific by Pacific. The PRF reflects all that we have learnt from our lived experience in this region, and it is tailored made to assist Pacific governments, private sector and communities.”
Mr Prasad, told the media that the PRF will benefit the Pacific people across the board, with different levels of funding.
National governments will be able to access the Facility as grants or concessional loans while the private sector will be able to get concessional loans.
Community organisations and civil societies can be given grants.
He said the PRF will be a key discussion point at this week’s regional economic meeting.
“The proposal will go before them and they will discuss this and decide on what actions that should be taken,” he said.
The PFR aims to have an initial capital of $500 million and a lot of that funding is expected to come from development partners.
A funding strategy is being developed to consider all possible options and avenues to fund the Facility.
Key issues that Forum Ministers will have to decide on includes the governance arrangement for the Facility and where this will operate from.
Meanwhile, 11 projects across the region have now accessed Green Climate Funds assistance.
PIFS’ Climate Finance Adviser Mr Exley Taloiburi told the media today that the countries now have funding to help them implement projects linked with climate resilience or adaptation.
“That is great for these countries,” he said.
The projects ranged from water system development, renewable energy, wharf construction to adaptation project.
He said the GCF process is quite strict and thorough and requirements restrict approval of funds to guidelines that have been set.
Mr Taloiburi said a push towards ensuring that there are systems in place and an enabling environment to absorb the funding is critical, so that regional countries are better placed to manage funding they received and ensure that projects are successfully implemented.
He added this was important because the funding amounts will increase from 2020.
“From 2020 every year US$100 Billion will be made made available to vulnerable developing countries,” he said.
“We need to be planning strategically to see what we need to do – and ensure that we do not miss out.”
The FEMM 2019 will be held at the Forum Secretariat from Wednesday, May 8.
A team of Pacific journalists and their Fiji counterparts are attending the meeting.
(Iliesa Tora’s participation at the FEMM2019 has been made possible with the assistance of PACMAS and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat).
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