In small island states, a mixed picture of climate resilience funding

Kelan Sing and Johnny Timotu, fishermen from Taremb, on Vanuatu’s Malekula Island, launch their outrigger canoe. Changing weather patterns in Vanuatu, where climate and food production are intimately intertwined, have affected food security for the country’s population. Photo by: Tom Perry / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

At last September’s U.N. Conference on Small Island Developing States in Apia, Samoa, the World Bank announced that it would help small, disaster-prone countries to improve their adaptive capacity to climate change through an effort called the Small Island States Resilience Initiative — a response to ever-louder calls from leaders of island states for more assistance with boosting their disaster resilience. From $145 million a year, World Bank support for climate-resilient development for these small island states was increased to $190 million annually.

The World Bank already manages climate resilience financing for small island states through several channels: the International Development Association, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Least Developed Countries Fund, the Special Climate Change Fund, Adaptation Fund, the GEF-6 for Climate Change, the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience, the Japan Policy and Human Resources Development Fund and trust funds largely financed by the now-defunct Australian Agency for International Development, such as the Pacific Regional Infrastructure Facility and the Maldives Climate Change Trust Fund.

Below is a more detailed breakdown of World Bank-managed disaster resilience funding for small island states as of December 2014. The World Bank notes that these countries may also be eligible for Green Climate Fund financing when the fund becomes operational.

As of December 2014, the IDA has the most active and programmed climate resilience funding for small island states.

Active climate resilience financing is concentrated in the Caribbean, while most of the potential funding is directed toward Pacific island states — perhaps a reflection of the growing pressure from these countries on the international community to help them mitigate the risks of climate change.

For small island states, there is $1.5 billion in active and potential disaster resilience funding.

In Africa and the Indian Ocean, Comoros, a small country with a large chunk of its population living near the coastline, has the most active climate resilience financing. Guinea-Bissau, which has been working to improve the capacity of its agrarian and water sectors to adapt to climate change, has the most funds for similar projects in the pipeline. Much of the money for these active and programmed activities comes from the LDCF.

In the Caribbean, Haiti has the greatest available funding to support disaster resilience. Ranking among countries most affected by extreme weather events between 1993 and 2012, Haiti has an ailing infrastructure that exacerbates its vulnerability to disasters. The 2010 earthquake that struck the tiny nation further highlighted just how poorly equipped it was to deal with such drastic weather occurrences.

The majority of active funds for countries in the Caribbean comes from the IDA, while most programmed funding will come from the IBRD. In the region, Jamaica has the most potential financing, at $58.8 million.

But there are Caribbean countries — Bahamas, Barbados, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago — that have no available funding from any multilateral channels. Still, except for Saint Kitts and Nevis, which has the smallest population among these countries, all these states can expect to get funds for disaster resilience. At $2 million, however, the programmed funding for each of these countries — all coming from the GEF-6 for Climate Change — is a meager amount.

For Pacific island countries, potential financing for most states that have no active climate resilience funding — Nauru, Niue and Palau, in particular — will also largely come from the GEF-6. Meanwhile, a big part of the programmed climate resilience funding for Micronesia, which does not have active financing from any of the climate funds, will come from the Adaptation Fund.

Among Pacific island states, Samoa has the largest amount of active disaster resilience funding. In 2012, Cyclone Evan caused considerable damage in Samoa and wiped out nearly 20 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. This placed Samoa among the 10 most affected countries by extreme weather according to Germanwatch’s 2012 Global Climate Risk Index.

Vanuatu, meanwhile, has the most potential funding for climate resilience. Changing weather patterns in Vanuatu, where climate and food production are intimately intertwined, have affected food security for the country’s population.

The IDA is the main source of active climate resilience funding for Pacific island countries, while the LDCF will be the primary potential funder for the Pacific region’s climate activities.

In all three regions, the countries with the most active funding — Comoros, Haiti and Samoa — also have the greatest total funding for both active and programmed projects.

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About the author

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    Anna Patricia Valerio

    Anna Patricia Valerio is a former Manila-based development analyst who focused on writing innovative, in-the-know content for senior executives in the international development community. Before joining Devex, Patricia wrote and edited business, technology and health stories for BusinessWorld, a Manila-based business newspaper.