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Call to scale up climate partnership for small islands

The heads of three regional organisations, together with the Commonwealth, have called for the strengthening of a global partnership to support climate change planning and finance in small island developing states. 

The Climate Resilient Islands Partnership was formed in 2011 and launched at the Rio+20 summit to support island nations, many of whom face existential threats as a result of climate change and rising sea levels, by providing a facility for sharing learning and providing mutual technical assistance.

Ahead of the International Conference on Small Island Developing States, in Samoa between 1-4 September 2014, the Commonwealth, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre and the Indian Ocean Commission united in calling for new partners to scale up the partnership.

Speaking at a parallel event, the heads showcased some of the achievements of the partnership since it was launched at Rio+20. These include joint initiatives to help SIDS to plan for disaster risk reduction and climate change, applying climate models to support decision-making, and ensuring institutions are well positioned to apply for climate finance.

The event on 30 August, which involved a dialogue with over fifty guests from national governments and regional and international partners including the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the European Union, was hosted at the headquarters of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in Apia, Samoa.

David Sheppard, Director General of SPREP, said: “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports note that the worst case scenario is an increase of up to 90 centimetres in sea levels by 2100.

“Put that in perspective in our region, where we have three out of five of the  world’s lowest lying countries on Earth, ranging from between 2.8 metres and 3.5 metres. This is a matter of security which requires our response.”

Deodat Maharaj, Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General, said: “The Commonwealth fully supports the development of a Climate Resilient Islands Partnership with a regional approach joining organisations from across the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean.”

“We aim to work closely with the partners to help small island developing states unlock climate financing, and offer support to strengthen their institutions and ensure robust planning to effectively respond to climate change.

Dr Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, said: “The work being done by the regions in promoting a home-grown system of adaptation speaks resolutely to the commitment of the partners. South-South small island cooperation twinned with meaningful partnerships can bring about real change in the lives of many.”

Jean Claude de l’Estrac, Secretary General of the IOC, added: “It is through such partnerships that we can make our islands voices heard for ensuring fair consideration of our interests in the global agenda for development 2015-2030.”

The partnership has established a comprehensive work plan to facilitate mutual learning on climate finance and planning. The organisations are also working together to strengthen public information portals on climate preparedness.

New partners and interested parties are encouraged to join the partnership, to contribute to and support future initiatives.

Credit: The Commonwealth Secretariat

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