The joint initiative, worth €21 million, was launched during yesterday's One Planet Summit in New York. Less than a year after it was announced by French President Macron at the 2017 edition of the Summit, the EU, France, Australia and New Zealand have joined forces to make it a reality.
Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, said: "The Pacific is home to more than 12 million people, and although their contribution to climate change is minimal, they suffer the consequences greatly. The Pacific also hosts an important part of the world’s biodiversity, which is increasingly endangered. With the EU’s €10 million contribution to the joint initiative, we are renewing our commitment to help protect the region from climate change and its impacts on biodiversity, livelihoods and the environment."
As climate change and biodiversity call for stronger joined-up actions, the initiative plans to build an international collation to catalyse and streamline funding in these areas. By pooling resources and coordinating actions, it aims to help the Pacific region adapt to the effects of climate change, protect biodiversity and to increase resilience. The EU and France are contributing €10 million each and New Zealand and Australia with €1 additional million, with contributions welcomed from other donors.
The joint initiative will finance projects in areas such as climate change adaptation and mitigation, ocean governance (including sustainable fisheries and aquaculture) and the environment (including waste management, biodiversity or eco-tourism).
Climate action is a key priority for the EU. The climate-specific expenditure in the EU’s cooperation and development area is estimated at approximately €1.5 billion for 2019 and €1.6 billion for 2020.
The European Commission has also proposed increasing the mainstreaming target to 25% (from 20%) of the overall budget for external action for the period 2021-2027. This proposal goes in line with EU’s commitment to continued and stable financing of climate action, both within and beyond the EU's borders.
Climate change in the Pacific
The “Joint Pacific Initiative for biodiversity, climate change and resilience” is linked to the Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership programme launched by the EU, Sweden and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) at the Our Ocean Conference in Malta, in October 2017.
There are 19 countries and overseas territories in the Pacific, totalling more than 12 million people, including nearly 600 000 EU citizens.
As a consequence of climate change, average ocean and land temperatures are increasing while the seasonality and duration of rainfall is changing in the Pacific region. The incidence of cyclones, serious floods and droughts, and ocean acidification is escalating. The sea level is rising and some territories are now only 1-3 metres above sea level. These pressures adversely affect agriculture, fisheries, coastal zones, water resources, ecosystems and human health, thereby exposing communities and economies to significant risks. Protecting and rehabilitating marine biodiversity, e.g. coral reefs and mangroves, will contribute to coastal protection and consequently increase resilience against the negative effects of climate change.
From left to right: Mr. Rémy Rioux, Director General, Agence française de développement (AFD); Mr. François de Rugy, Minister of Ecological Transition and Solidarity, France; Mr. Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development; Mr. Colin Tukuitonga, Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community; Ms Joe Tyndall, Ambassador of Climate Change, New Zealand; Mr. Patrick Suckling, Ambassador for the Environment, Australia; Mr. Kosi Latu, Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP); Ms Cristelle Pratt, Deputy Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS).
Background information on EU climate action
The EU's approach to public climate finance is twofold: to provide grant funding directly to the poorest and most vulnerable countries, and to use grant funding to leverage private investment through financial guarantees and blending (a mix of public and private funds).
One flagship initiative funded through grants is the Global Climate Change Alliance+. It provides a platform for dialogue and cooperation and technical and financial support to the Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States. It has funded more than 70 projects of national, regional and worldwide scope in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific, worth over €737 million for the period 2007-2020.
In the area of guarantees, the External Investment Plan plays a key role to unlock private investment in the area of climate change, with 3 out of the 5 priority areas identified linked to this topic: sustainable energy, cities and agriculture. The EIP is on the right track towards achieving its commitment to leverage €44 billion of public and private investments in sustainable development by 2020, with an input of €4.1 billion from the EU.