Suva- Pacific island nations are gearing up for the establishment of a “homegrown” regional initiative that will provide financing options for resilient infrastructure in response to the impacts of climate change. Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor told reporters ahead of the Forum Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM), that Pacific ministers will decide on the fund – to be known as the Pacific Resilience Facility (PRF). Climate change can unleash landslides.
“It is an initiative and solution born from the Pacific. It is designed for Pacific by Pacific. The PRF reflects all that we have learned from our lived experience in this region, and it is tailored made to assist Pacific governments, private sector, and communities,” Taylor said. The PRF will help reduce loss of life and displacement of people and protect against extreme economic impact by providing funds for retrofitting anything from community halls and jetties to major roads or communications connections. The fund will be open to governments, private sector and communities. The proposal for the PRF aims to raise USD$1.5 billion to jumpstart it, but USD$500 million would be enough to make it viable. The PRF would finance small scale investments that multilateral banks would not fund. The Pacific ministers behind the PRF said the facility would be less bureaucratic and easier to access. The initiative will be further discussed at the FEMM to be held May 8 to 9. Although there are billions of dollars of climate change funding available, many Pacific countries have to go through a very complex and difficult process to access such funds. In Palau, President Tommy Remengesau Jr. in his State of the Republic Address in April said that risk assessment projections showed that the tiny island nation can expect “ever more frequent inclement weather events.” He said the World Bank estimates that it will cost Palau on average approximately $2.7 million per year in damage and that there is a 50 percent chance of incurring damages totaling over $30 million in the next 50 years. In the region, Secretary-General Dame Meg Taylor said the economic costs of natural disasters increased from 3.8 percent of regional GDP in 2012 to 15.6 percent of total regional GDP in 2016. The costs were as high as 30 percent of Fiji’s GDP in 2016 and 64 percent of Vanuatu’s GDP in 2015, she said.