Tue. Nov 19th, 2019

Vanuatu, Cook Islands urging UN to improve climate financing

WELLINGTON, 21 OCTOBER 2019 (RNZ PACIFIC) — Vanuatu and the Cook Islands are calling for the United Nations to make it easier for vulnerable low-lying states to access climate financing.

Pacific states graduating from low-income to developed status aren’t getting enough assistance with climate vulnerability, officials from both countries say

For 15 years, Vanuatu has been lobbying the UN to include climate vulnerabilities in its economic assessments.

The government wants climate change threats to Pacific states to be considered before they graduate from least-developed status.

The category, which Vanuatu will graduate next year, provides critical assistance to developing Pacific states.

Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu says efforts to get the UN to listen continue.

“We are pushing for Tuvalu and Kiribati and Solomons, for that criteria to be included when considering their graduation because they are seriously vulnerable.”

The Cook Islands government graduated to developed nation status in July, predicting minimal impact.

But the Deputy Prime Minister, Mark Brown, has already said there’s a need for continued access to concessional climate financing after graduating.

The Cook Islands High Commissioner to New Zealand, Elizabeth Wright-Koteka, agrees the criteria is limiting.

“The reality of the OECD criteria is that vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and natural disasters do not factor when taken and taken into consideration when assessing a country’s development status.”

She says instead, the Cook Islands is having to look after itself, including diversifying its economy through seabed mining exploration and other new industries.

“This is why for us, economic diversification is currently one of our top priorities. We are looking to non traditional means of ensuring our livelihoods up protected in any scenario, we have been reliant on a single service driven industry for long enough.”

Wright-Koteka says climate finance should also be dedicated rather than tied to overseas development assistance.

Still, others want more concessions from countries like New Zealand and Australia instead of funding Pacific governments to deal with the climate crisis.

The Deputy Director General of the Pacific Community, Audrey Aumua, says it’s not about more money.

“It is actually about the partnership, the company, the collaborative way in which we problem solve together. And it’s actually not about more money, and our leaders are very clear in Tuvalu when they said that.”

Meanwhile, Vanuatu is continuing in its efforts to sue the world’s biggest polluting countries and companies.

A climate legal expert who recently advised the government, Michael Gerrard, says Vanuatu is considering bringing its case to the International Court of Justice…. PACNEWS