Durban, South Africa, Tuesday 29th November 2011 - Pacific delegations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference currently underway in Durban, South Africa, are pushing for agreement on the Green Climate Fund.
It is anticipated that the Green Climate Fund will channel a significant portion of the US$100 billion a year promised by developed countries by 2020 to help developing countries effectively responding to Climate Change.
"We have spent quite some time trying to design the new Green Climate Fund," said Samoa's ambassador to the United Nations, Aliioaiga Feturi Elisaia. Ambassador Feturi is also the Pacific SIDS representative on the Transitional Committee of the Green Climate Fund, tasked with developing the modalities of the fund for consideration at the Climate Change Conference this week.
"It's important that in Durban we reach agreement to progress towards operationalising the Fund," stressed Ambassador Feturi.
But keen observers of the Climate Change Conference say that powerful developed countries may utilize the Fund as a bargaining chip to seek gains in other areas of negotiation.
The United States, for instance, announced last week it did not support the Green Climate Fund proposal from the Transitional Committee, seeking more clarity on private sector involvement in the Fund. Saudi Arabia has also voiced its opposition to the proposed Fund, calling for response measures to be included in the scope and objectives of the fund. Response measures as currently argued by Saudi Arabia include compensation for oil-producing countries for revenue lost due to climate change actions.
"It is important for us to capture some of the gains that are already in the report to try and resist any renegotiation," said Ambassador Feturi, maintaining that for the Pacific, accessing the fund is critical.
We acknowledge that for us in the Pacific, accessing those funds will be a challenge due to our island countries' limited resources to deal with these procedures," said the Ambassador. "That is why we (the Transitional Committee) purposely included reference to utilising regional organisation resources for those who have capacity constraints. Everybody should have access to the Fund, whether through national means or regional organisations."
Ambassador Feturi added that the report of the Transitional Committee looks at simplifying some of the procedures to access the Green Climate Fund. It also seeks to strengthen the ability of countries to access the Fund, including through providing support for planning and for project proposal development.
I think it is important for submissions to the Fund to be aligned with countries' own national development plans – it's the countries themselves who need to determine that, and they need to develop their skills to do this effectively.
If the Transitional Committee report on operationalising the Green Climate Fund is approved in Durban, its Board will be setup as soon as possible. The Board will review expressions of interests and make recommendations on the selection of the host country for the Fund for endorsement at next year's UN Climate Change Conference in Qatar.
"It will be important for the Pacific to be represented on the Board, for we, as a climate change vulnerable region, obviously have a vested interest in this important process," said Ambassador Feturi.
The Climate Change Conference, UNFCCC COP 17, opened on 28 November and will close 9 December, for more information on this please visit http://www.unfccc.int/
More news and images from the UNFCCC COP17 in Durban available on the Climate Pasifika Blog.