Small Island Developing States: Climate Finance Needed at a Local Level

Evacuation plan briefing after Tropical Cyclone Gita tore through Samoa
National Red Cross Red and Crescent Societies in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are working with their governments to advocate for climate finance and to strengthen climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk management (DRM) frameworks.

Following the Disaster Law workshops held in Seychelles in August, SIDS National Societies and their government counterparts are working together to advocate for climate finance and climate resilience, aiming for better accessibility to various funding mechanisms, such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Dialogues between public authorities and National Societies took place to define roles and responsibilities in the course of their partnership, but also to look how to collectively raise SIDS issues at large scale events such as the recent COP 27. Actions are also being taken to adopt an integrated approach to CCA and disaster risk reduction (DRR), namely by developing cross-cutting and inclusive laws and policies.

Speaking about the legislative work, National Societies, with the technical support of IFRC Disaster Law, are also supporting public authorities to review institutional and legal frameworks for resource allocation and preparedness in the face of increasing climate-related risks. Legal frameworks facilitate climate finance to local actors, both for DRR and CCA action and ensure sustainable capacity to prepare for and respond to emergencies. Local capacity is critical to prepare for, adapt and respond to the growing risks created by the climate crisis.

The Red Cross Society of Seychelles, for example, engaged with the Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment to formalize their collaboration for COP27 and beyond. Through a series of meetings, the two agreed on the complementary nature of their roles and duties in achieving CCA. The motive that governs this partnership is the maximization of the support offered to the communities.

Through a consultancy funded by UNDP, the Directorate of Civil Security is developing a law on DRM with the support of the Red Crescent Society of Comoros. This will be the first law dedicated to DRM and is the result of many dialogues with the Government. IFRC Disaster Law is working to support the process through providing technical guidance on recommended provisions for inclusion to enhance a climate-smart, comprehensive approach to DRM, including assigning clear roles for each all DRM actors and stakeholders and setting up financial systems to operationalize DRM.

Similarly, the Red Cross Society of Samoa engaged with the newly appointed Minister of Environment about the revision of the 2007 Disaster and Emergency Management Act. Indeed, an updated law would benefit vulnerable communities by facilitating international assistance with well-rounded coordination mechanisms. This project will be in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO).

Other National Societies such as the Cook Islands Red Cross Society and the Maldives Red Crescent Society are equally focusing on climate risk funding. On the one hand, the Cook Islands established a list of goals on CCA investments, and the National Society is looking for the ways to effectively support the government in each of these goals, especially when it comes to tackling the impact of climate change on health. On the other hand, Maldives concluded a memorandum of understanding with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and UNDP on a strategy to achieve sustainable DRR along with mitigation for the next two years.

Over the years, SIDS National Societies remained true to their engagement as auxiliaries to their public authorities. But beyond the spectrum of their humanitarian activities, they contributed to rally the SIDS around a common objective to advocate for with regards to climate finance which resulted in further acknowledgment of their specific situation as a whole. For instance, loss and damage, established by the Warsaw International Mechanism at COP 19, was seriously discussed at COP 27 after a clear message from the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) on windfall tax. As the Prime Minister of Antigua, Gaston Browne stated, “Those who contributed least to the climate crisis are reaping the whirlwind sown by others. (…) I am asking that all governments tax the windfall profits of fossil fuel companies.” Windfall tax consists of a surtax imposed on certain businesses with large profits intended to raise funds for adaptation in this context.

During the COP27 Finance Day climate finance was highlighted as a cornerstone of CCA, building on the Paris Agreement and Glasgow Climate Pact. Encouragingly, the day drew more countries to pledge for the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) of the Global Environment Facility (GEF); a mechanism that specifically targets SIDS to achieve climate resilience while taking into account their unique needs. At the moment, the fund amounts to US$35 million, but it is expected to reach around US $200 million to US $400 million by 2025.

The conclusion of COP27 saw a reemphasis on developed countries need to stay true to their commitments with respect to the annual US$100 billion required for climate action developing and the least developed countries, as set out at COP 15 in Copenhagen. As the following decisions can testify, a concrete way forward consists of the allocation of more resources to SIDS and least developed countries for the eighth replenishment of the GEF compared to the previous replenishment. Furthermore, resources dedicated to loss and damage response should be operationalized by a Transitional Committee that would not only be in charge of expanding sources but also to ensure a strong coordination with the other available funding mechanisms. This institution should be in place by the first trimester of 2023.

Though significant efforts have been made towards climate finance, COP 27 was characterized by a strong call for joint action with the New Collective Quantified Goal which adopts a broader approach, attributing more importance to MDB’s role. For National Societies in particular, it will be a matter of continuous collaboration with their governments in mobilizing the resources in every aspect of DRR and CCA but also in developing communities’ resilience. Nevertheless, SIDS National Societies have manifested their strong will to partner up through the creation of the SIDS Red Cross Red Crescent Network given their similarities in terms of challenges and climate conditions. The network was brought to life during the last Disaster Law workshops held in Seychelles that were tailor-made for SIDS and was designed to allow the members to meet regularly, share their experience on disaster law, legislative advocacy and climate action. Also, it is worth noting that a meeting was held in preparation for COP 27 to harmonize SIDS collective strategy in advocating for their common issues, but the initiative’s ambition goes above the COP 27 horizon as it mainly seeks to enhance SIDS collaboration in combatting climate change.