Why Pacific Island Nations, Like the Federated States of Micronesia, Need Climate Change Finance for Food Security Now

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Robby Nena’s tiny house, made of concrete and a tin roof, is built on reclaimed land by the Finkol River, about 200 meters from the Pacific Ocean in the Biosphere Reserve Transition Zone Utwe in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). The impact of climate change means her home is frequently flooded with salt water at high tide. Courtesy of: Kosrae Conservation & Safety Organization (KCSO)

SYDNEY, Australia, June 28, 2021 (IPS) – Robby Nena is one of many farmers and fishermen on the front lines of climate change in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), where coastal flooding and erosion, variable and abundant rainfall, rising temperatures, droughts and other extreme weather events are all too common.

FSM is one of 22 Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs). These nations contribute less than 0.03% of total global emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHGs). Yet they are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of global warming, climate change and sea level rise. A quarter of the people of the Pacific live less than 1 km from the coast.

“Every time it rains, our home and farm are flooded, destroying our crops, damaging infrastructure and posing a major health risk. Our tapioca and taro crops were completely destroyed in the major flooding last month, ”Nena told IPS from the village of Utwe in Kosrae State (FSM) via a jerky call from Messenger.

His small house, made of concrete and a tin roof, is built on reclaimed land by the Finkol River, about 200 meters from the Pacific Ocean in the Utwe Biosphere Reserve Transition zone.

“The river and the ocean meet here, so we are frequently inundated with salt water at high tide,” says Nena, who lives with her mother, wife teacher and two children.

Already evident and aggravating impacts of climate change on food security and livelihoods in Pacific Island countries are exacerbated by the lack of timely access to climate finance for mitigation and adaptation, advocates say of the climate.

The Green Climate Fund (FVC), which is part of the financial mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is currently the largest multilateral climate fund in the world and the main multilateral financing mechanism to help developing countries reduce their GHG emissions and strengthen their capacity to respond to climate change.

Belinda Hadley, FSM Designated National Authority Team Leader (NDA) for the GCF, affirms that currently, WSFs do not have the technical, financial and human capacity to access climate finance for mitigation, adaptation and resilience projects, which are essential to face the growing challenges of climate change .

“It’s difficult to make our proposals bankable because of all the requirements. English is the language of climate finance applications, and for most FSM dwellers, articulating needs, challenges and activities into proposals is no small feat as various islands have their own distinct indigenous languages ​​” , Hadley told IPS.

GCF proposals, to be successful, need a solid and robust explanation of the climate impacts and risks to be addressed. the climate logic description, as requested in the GCF proposal template, requires access to solid climate science and data.

Therefore, failure to disaggregate climate data from development data makes it difficult to demonstrate the impacts of climate change separately from other sustainable development issues.

“This separate data requirement for climate change makes it harder for us. We have climate change and development data consolidated and integrated into one because of our small population and dispersed geography, ”says Hadley.

FSM comprises over 600 islands spread across the four states of Kosrae, Yap, Chuuk and Pohnpei. This geographic distribution makes disaster preparedness and response difficult and costly.

The pandemic has added another layer to the harsh realities of climate change for the people of FSM.

“We were working on access to climate finance to start our adaptation efforts and move forward with our national adaptation plan, but we were unable to consult with states and meet stakeholders. All attention and resources have been focused on COVID-19 preparedness measures. Everything else has been put on the back burner, ”Hadley told IPS.

GCF operates through a network of accredited Direct Access Entities (DAEs) and delivery partners, which work directly with developing countries in the design and implementation of projects.

Robby Nena (center) cultivates and fishes for his livelihood.  Fish is a mainstay of food security in most Pacific island countries and territories, and subsistence fishing still provides the majority of dietary animal protein in the region.  Courtesy of: Kosrae Conservation & Safety Organization (KCSO)

Robby Nena (center) cultivates and fishes for his livelihood. Fish is a mainstay of food security in most Pacific island countries and territories, and subsistence fishing still provides the majority of dietary animal protein in the region. Courtesy of: Kosrae Conservation & Safety Organization (KCSO)

The Pacific Community (CPS), which supports PICTs with global coordination and capacity building for their engagement with climate finance mechanisms such as the GCF, is the WFTU NDA implementing partner. He supported the Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT) to become an accredited DAE and develop FSM’s first full-scale GCF food security project, which was approved for funding in March 2021.

MCT Deputy Executive Director Lisa Ranahan Andon told IPS: “This very first GCF grant to WSFs is going to the people who need this intervention most – and these are the most vulnerable farmers and fishermen.”

“We are convinced that our approach, integrating disparate one-off projects into a coherent national approach, will increase the positive impacts on communities. We are in the process of fulfilling the pre-disbursement requirements and anticipate a first disbursement and the launch of the project in January 2022 ”, she adds.

Andon believes this top prize should help pave the way for other national OCTS and DAEs in the region to secure GCF funding.

FSM only represents 0.003% global emissions of CO2 and other GHGs, but has set an ambitious target of 35% emission reduction by 2025.

In addition to the GCF, the country has received climate funding from the Adaptation Fund, European Union, Global Environment Facility, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and others, mainly for food and water security, renewable energy, coastal protection and disaster risk reduction.

Kosrae Conservation & Safety Organization (KCSO), a small non-profit organization supports and implements climate change adaptation and mitigation projects in local communities in Kosrae through climate funding, among others, the MCT. As part of one of its 2018 grants, they tested and collected Crown of Thorns Starfish (COTS), an invasive species that destroys coral in the Federated States of Micronesia, to experiment with the use of COTS as green manure.

“The farmers we distributed it to claim that COTS was a good natural fertilizer. We repeated the COTS collection this year and provided it to four farmers in different villages. Nena is one of them. Three of the four farmers are seeing very good results, ”KCSO Executive Director Andy George told IPS.

“If these farmers have planted 50 plants and can eat them, then this is a success for us. In addition to helping them become self-reliant to meet their livelihood needs, we also educate them on climate change adaptation and mitigation, ”he adds.

Many farmers like Nena only practice farming and fishing for their livelihood. Local products include eggplant, sweet potato, taro, banana, sugar cane, coconut, and citrus. Fish is a mainstay of food security in most Pacific Island countries and subsistence fishing still provides the majority of dietary animal protein in the region.

While the PICTs have small populations and a small landmass, Cameron Diver, deputy director general of SPC in Noumea (New Caledonia), told IPS: “They are the custodians of important resources such as tuna stocks. , on which countries around the world depend for their food security. If these nations cannot access the level of climate finance required to tackle impacts of climate change on these resources, this could then threaten the food security of the world’s populations far beyond the region.

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