Vulnerable small island states and developing countries are in with the opportunity to access billions of dollars of climate finance with the aid of a new Commonwealth initiative launched Tuesday in New York.
The Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub, hosted by the government of Mauritius, was officially opened by Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland and Mauritius Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth at a signing ceremony.
It will help governments deal with the ravaging effects of climate change to draw down funding from a global fund target of $100 billion a year by 2020, the Commonwealth said in a statement.
It has been launched against the backdrop of the Paris climate agreement in which the Commonwealth governments, 53 former British colonies, joined with other world leaders to sign the deal.
In the ongoing UN General Assembly in New York, a number of countries, including Bangladesh, will ratify the historic deal which will enter into effect once 55 countries accede to the agreement.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Scotland hailed the new hub as a “practical step forward” towards delivering the Paris Agreement on climate change, which calls for the urgent release of funds.
She highlighted the impacts of climate change, and said donors are at last creating climate funds, but too often “they are tied up in red tape and tremendously complicated to access, especially for small countries with limited capacity.”
“In short, the money isn’t getting to those who need it nearly fast enough,” she said. “This Commonwealth initiative will make the difference in unlocking much needed capital for adaption and mitigation, thanks to the generosity of Mauritius and other partners.”
A new analysis by the Commonwealth Secretariat showed that despite the target of $100 billion a year by 2020, only $726 million of available climate finance has been received to date by the 31 small states of the Commonwealth.
Those are the countries with populations of under two million who are among the most threatened by climate change.
The first formal request had also come from those small countries that include Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, Mauritius, Namibia, Nauru, Solomon Islands, St Kitts and Nevis, Tonga, and Vanuatu.
Namibia’s Minister of Environment Pohamba Shifeta at the launch said his country welcomed the funds establishment.
“Namibia is one of the biggest and driest countries in sub-Saharan Africa, characterised by high climatic variability in the form of persistent droughts, unpredictable and variable rainfall patterns.
“These climatic changes will create considerable social and economic impacts, which climate finance for mitigation and adaption seeks to address,” Shifeta said.
Mauritius Prime Minister Jugnauth stressed on knowing where the climate funds are located and how to access them for the small island states and LDCs with limited capacities.
"The Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub has precisely been given that role. Indeed the hub’s main objective is to palliate the deficiency in information on climate finance and to assist particularly in the preparation of bankable projects,” he said.
The Access Hub, which is based in the capital of Mauritius, Port Louis, will place national climate finance advisers for two years at a time in recipient countries, who will help host ministries to identify and apply for funding streams.
The innovative approach will build on-the-ground capacity to access multilateral funds such as the Green Climate Fund, Adaptation Fund and Climate Investment Funds, as well as private sector finance, the Commonwealth said.
Prime Minister Jugnauth, however, appealed to Commonwealth member countries and partner agencies to mobilise additional financial resources to tackle climate change, according to a news agency.