Devex LIVE: Funding climate resilience in small island developing states

Via YouTube.

Last week, Devex and the CommonSensing consortium hosted a virtual discussion convening key stakeholders across climate finance to draw attention to the need for more and better financing to support climate resilience in small island developing states, or SIDS.

Although some countries now increasingly have access to funding from the international donor community to improve resilience for climate change, SIDS are often unable to gain such access due to a lack of internal knowledge of the relevant procedures.

A panel of experts discussed how the international community can come together to support climate change resilience in these geographies — especially in the wake of Cyclone Harold, which hit the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, and Tonga in April.

According to Amal-Lee Amin, climate change director at the U.K. development finance institution CDC Group, these island states have to break the vicious cycle of just recovering from disasters and accumulating debt. Amin highlighted the need to build adaptive capacity in these countries.

Live illustrator Chris Shipton visually captured the main takeaways from the conversation.

It is critical to change the narrative from a focus on accessing funds to instead be about impact and effectiveness, said panelist Jale Samuwai, climate adviser for the Pacific at Oxfam.

“The large finance flows that are promised to SIDS are not forthcoming, so it’s really important that — the little [funding that] SIDS have access to — we have to ensure that it really benefits the society. Because at the end of the day, this is where the impacts are really felt,” Samuwai said.

He added that Oxfam, as an INGO, believes it is important to look at resilience from the perspective of communities and those who are marginalized and most vulnerable. “SIDS have accessed billions of funds since 2013, but where is the impact? The trickle-down effect is not really reaching the ground,” he said.

There is also a strong need to support resilience efforts in SIDS, said Mafalda Duarte, CEO of the Climate Investment Funds, whose secretariat is located at the World Bank. “Countries are spending much more on the reconstruction and recovery side than they are on building resilience. It’s incumbent upon all of us working in the various institutions to make sure we find ways to support them, given their specific macroeconomic circumstances,” Duarte said.

“SIDS have accessed billions of funds since 2013, but where is the impact? The trickle-down effect is not really reaching the ground.”

— Jale Samuwai, climate adviser for the Pacific, Oxfam

She also emphasized how funders could work together and better align their funding. “There’s a need for the IMF, the World Bank, and other institutions and multilateral development banks and financial institutions to agree on how to make upfront investments [and on] what is the type of finance and level of finance needed to allow these countries to build that threshold of important resilience,” she added.

Duarte also discussed the need to move away from each funder operating individually. Instead, funding needs to be about scale, systems, sustainability, and allowing for more flexibility and predictability.

Shivanal S. Kumar, climate change adaptation specialist at Fiji’s Ministry of Economy, stressed getting the private sector on board. “We need to … strengthen the corporate and private sector because the government alone cannot deal with the issue of climate change,” he said.

Watch the recording of the event above and take part in the discussion online with the hashtag #TurningTheTide.

Visit the Turning the Tide series for more coverage on climate change, resilience building, and innovative solutions in small island developing states. You can join the conversation using the hashtag #TurningtheTide.

Explore the series.

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