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What do leaders of Small Island Developing States say about living with climate change?

Kiran Sura, CDKN’s Head of Advocacy Fund, reviews discussions from the CDKN side event at the Third United Nations Conference for Small Island Developing States. In a related blog, “Island voices, global choices,”  she highlights major currents in the SIDS Summit as a whole.

CDKN and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre led a lively discussion among Small Island Developing States (SIDS) representatives on how to join climate science with action on the ground for climate-resilient economies, at the Third United Nations Conference for Small Island Developing States, in Apia, Samoa, earlier this month. The conversation focused on getting ‘the right information to the right people at the right time’ to manage climate-related disaster risks and foster climate-smart development planning in small islands. To read more on the discussions, please view this background feature, “Island voices, global choices”: reviewing the UN conference on Small Island Developing States.

Representatives from government, businesses, third sector organisations and civil society attended the launch of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report: What’s in it for Small Island Developing States? – a guide from CDKN and the Overseas Development Institute. The guide succinctly distils the richest material from the Fifth Assessment Report to raise awareness of what climate change means for these states and is part of a larger communications toolkit produced by CDKN on the report.

Hon. Faamoetauloa Lealaialoto Taito Dr. Faale Tumaalii, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment for Samoa, welcomed the report and encouraged individuals to share how they are using scientific information to deliver sustainable development and action on climate change. Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, then led a panel of distinguished speakers to discuss how they are using the latest scientific, environmental, economic and social information to address climate change, prepare for climate disasters and in international climate negotiations.

Dr. Elizabeth Carabine of CDKN outlined the key findings from the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report: What’s in it for Small Island Developing States? highlighting how the IPCC has gone further than ever before on presenting the causes, consequences and responses to climate change across SIDS. Whilst the SIDS share common challenges, the type and scale of impacts will vary across SIDS in the Pacific, the Caribbean and Indian Ocean regions. What is applicable across the islands, regardless of geography, is that climate change approaches should be integrated with sustainable development, energy and disaster risk approaches to enable the islands to achieve the economies of scale to attract finance, exploit synergies and deliver real change.

Dr. Neville Trotz, Deputy Director for the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, discussed the Caribbean’s regional framework for delivering climate resilient development and how they propose to implement this plan; however, ‘red tape’ has prevented the region from taking action as quickly as they would have liked. Slow progress not only increases the region’s vulnerability to climate impacts, but it also means the evidence underpinning the case for action and attracting finance can very quickly become outdated. This is in addition to the challenge of downscaling projections from global climate models to deliver meaningful insights.

Evaipomana Tu’holoaki, from the International Federation for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), discussed how the evidence confirms that climate change is increasing disaster risk for millions of the world’s most vulnerable people, especially those living in SIDS. However, whilst ‘the science’ is the foundation of action, translation is needed to ensure people have the right information at the right time, and to increase awareness and preparedness. A range of innovative partnerships from across the Pacific region demonstrate how communities and states are working together to strengthen resilience and preparedness as a first line of defence for vulnerable people in risk-prone countries. Looking to the future, the IFRC will be scaling up humanitarian response and preparedness, and will continue to reduce risk through better understanding and implementation of early warning information and systems at the national, regional and community level.

Olai Uludong, the Chief Climate Change Negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States, noted that as international climate negotiations enter a critical period, the timely findings of the Fifth Assessment Report have reinforced the case for immediate and ambitious action to curb emissions to give the world a fighting chance of limiting warming to two degrees Celsius. The ‘science’ is used to formulate negotiating positions, and the findings of the report will be a critical input for developing Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, which all Parties must submit in advance of talks in Paris next year.

These panel presentations stimulated much discussion from the audience, with contributions addressing the importance of civil society in implementing climate information, the role of traditional and local knowledge in adapting to climate change in SIDS and the need for greater awareness within society to effect change at leadership level. Discussion also focussed around the negotiations process and how the latest scientific evidence can support SIDS’ positions at the upcoming UNFCCC CoPs in Lima and Paris.

Whilst there is overwhelming and growing evidence that SIDS are amongst the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and amongst the least responsible for causing the warming we are experiencing, progress in securing a global climate agreement has been frustratingly slow. However, Dr. Leslie remarked on the importance of climate change being framed as a sustainable development issue, rather than a purely environmental one, and, as Hon Faamoetauloa Lealaialoto Taito Dr. Faale Tumaalii stated in his closing remarks, SIDS are not doing nothing. He used the Majuro Declaration, launched at last year’s Pacific Island Forum Summit, as an example of how the islands are taking on an important leadership role, and encouraged all to continue to makes the voices of SIDS heard until real progress is achieved.

Credit: Climate & Development Knowledge Network (CDKN)

Small islands to sign historic treaty in Samoa

SIDS DOCK

Small islands to sign historic treaty in Samoa, to help finance climate change adaptation

Representatives from 31 small islands and low lying countries that are members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) will reaffirm their commitment to the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Sustainable Energy mechanism – SIDS DOCK – at an Official Ceremony for the Opening of Signature for the Statute Establishing the SIDS DOCK, on 1 September 2014, during the upcoming United Nations (UN) Third International Conference on SIDS, in Apia, Samoa, from 1-4 September. The opening for signature of this historic SIDS-SIDS Treaty is a significant highlight and outcome of the Conference, and a major step toward the treaty’s entry into force.

Representatives scheduled to attend the ceremony confirmed their continuing support for, and preparation to sign the Statute as soon as possible, and reiterated their resolve to continue cooperating to achieve its prompt entry into force and to support the SIDS DOCK goal of 25-50-25 by 2033: Island Energy For Island Life. SIDS need to mobilize and facilitate in excess of USD 20 billion by 2033, about USD 1 billion per year, to help finance the transformation of the SIDS energy sector in order to achieve a 25 percent (from the 2005 baseline) increase in energy efficiency, generation of a minimum of 50 percent of electric power from renewable sources, and a 25 percent decrease in conventional transportation fuel use, in order to significantly increase financial resources to enable climate change adaptation in SIDS.

The Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Finance, for the Commonwealth of Dominica, and acting in his country’s capacity as Chair of the SIDS DOCK Steering Committee, said that SIDS DOCK represents a significant achievement in solidifying SIDS-SIDS relationships and cooperation and is, “an extraordinary lesson learned of what can happen when a genuine partner takes ‘a chance’ on a new and innovative idea that has the potential to help SIDS adapt and become more resilient to the changing climate and sea level rise.”  Recognising that the lives of more than 20 million people in small islands and low lying states are at high risk, the majority of them young people, the Government of Denmark was the first country to provide support for SIDS DOCK start-up activities with a grant of USD 14.5 million in 2010, during climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark.  This gesture and demonstration of support was followed by a grant of USD 15 million, over two years in 2011, from the Government of Japan during climate talks in Cancun, Mexico.

In March 2014, in partnership with the United Nations Industrial and Development Organization (UNIDO), the Government of Austria extended support under a Memorandum of Understanding, with a grant of 1 million euros, for start-up activities for Centres for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in the Caribbean (CCREEE), the Pacific (PCREEE), and support to African SIDS through the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ECREEE in Cabo Verde, and at a later date, support for a centre in the Indian Ocean region (IOCREEE). The new centres will also act as SE4ALL Hubs, assisting SIDS to translate commitments to actions. SIDS DOCK is highly complementary to the work being done under the Sustainable Energy For All (SE4All) Initiative, a personal initiative of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, that has SIDS as the largest group of signatories and with the highest ambitions.

During the Third International Conference on SIDS, the Government of Samoa and its people will host hundreds of representatives from small islands and low lying states, donors, investors and civil society groups, to what is expected to be the most important conference on SIDS to date, and one that is expected to define SIDS in a Post-2015 world, with genuine partnerships at the core of the agenda.  SIDS DOCK is well-positioned to participate in the SIDS Post-2015 Agenda with its partners, the Governments of Denmark, Japan and Austria; the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Industrial and Development Organization (UNIDO); The World Bank; and The Clinton Foundation – Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI).

During the Signing Ceremony on September 1, the Dominican Prime Minister will invite other members of the AOSIS to consider joining the organisation.  The Statute will remain open for signature in Apia, Samoa until September 5, and will re-open for signature in Belmopan, Belize, from September 6, 2014 until it enters into force.  Belize is the host country for SIDS DOCK, with Samoa designated as the location for the Pacific regional office.

Banner for Climate Resilient Islands Partnership
Background Note

SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES (SIDS) SUSTAINABLE ENERGY INITIATIVE – SIDS DOCK

A SIMPLE MESSAGE: SIDS DOCK IS A “CLIMATE CHANGE STORY”

SIDS DOCK[1] is a SIDS–SIDS institutional mechanism established to facilitate the development of a sustainable energy economy within the small islands and low lying developing states. Transforming the energy sector away from petroleum dependency is the pathway for SIDS to generate the significant levels of financial resources that will be needed for adaptation to the impacts of climate change. It is estimated that SIDS consume in excess of 220 million barrels of fuels, annually, and emit some 38 million tons of carbon.

The goals of SIDS DOCK are to mobilize in excess of USD 20 Billion, by 2033, or USD 1 billion per year, to help finance the transformation of the SIDS Energy Sector to achieve a 25 percent (2005 baseline) increase in energy efficiency, generation of a minimum of 50 percent of electric power from renewable sources, and a 25 percent decrease in conventional transportation fuel use, in order to enable climate change adaptation in SIDS. Some SIDS governments have announced more ambitious goals for the reduction of fossil fuel use in order to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. By providing SIDS with a dedicated and flexible mechanism to pursue sustainable energy, SIDS DOCK will make it easier for SIDS Development Partners to invest across multiple island States, and to more frequently reach investment scale that can be of interest to commercial global financing. 

SIDS DOCK will serve as a “DOCKing station” to increase SIDS access to international financing, technical expertise and technology, as well as a link to the multi-billion dollar  European and United States carbon markets – within which the potential value of trading avoided GHG emissions is estimated to be between USD 100-400 billion, annually. The funds generated will help countries develop and implement long-term adaptation measures.

SIDS DOCK has four principal functions:

  • Provide a mechanism to help SIDS generate the financial resources to invest in climate change adaptation;
  • Assist SIDS with developing a sustainable energy sector by increasing energy efficiency and developing renewable energy resources that minimizes dependence on imported fuels;
  • Provide a vehicle for mobilizing financial and technical resources to catalyse low carbon economic growth, and;
  • Provide SIDS with a mechanism for connecting with the global financial, technology, and carbon market taking advantage of the resource transfer possibilities that will be afforded.

SIDS DOCK is uniquely placed to work with private sector companies, tertiary institutions and governments to facilitate research across a range of specific environmental settings, technologies and best practices. This will produce a cyclical effect, as the stabilization of clean energy infrastructures will attract increased private sector and foreign investment. With respect to the legal framework, SIDS DOCK will be registered as a trans-regional international organization, vested with the legal personality of an international organization, and with the full rights, privileges, and immunities of an international organization. This Convention will be registered pursuant to Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations.

Further, SIDS DOCK will also be able to make recommendations to Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) Member States on the optimal policy and legal framework necessary to encourage such investment. The associated assessments and research into policies, innovative approaches, and economic incentives will help to standardize and streamline the transition to a low carbon, highly efficient energy economy.  SIDS DOCK will finance its operations through a combination of multi-lateral and bilateral grants, philanthropic support and income generation from selected endeavours.

Financing, Institutionalization and Project Implementation

SIDS DOCK, the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), announced a historic partnership in March 2014, worth millions of Euros, to establish a network of regional Centres for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in SIDS. The Government of Austria, through the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), has committed to fund the establishment and first operational phase for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Centres in the Caribbean (CCREEE), Indian Ocean (IOCREEE), and the Pacific (PCREEE), and to provide support to the African islands at the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE).

Twenty-two SIDS have signed historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) establishing a long-term partnership with the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) that will see the Partners working together to speed up innovative renewable energy projects and solutions that would significantly transform the SIDS energy sector to the benefit the population.  In 2012, President Clinton established a Diesel Replacement Project in small island developing states, a decision that grew from his expressed concerns about the high cost of electricity for imported diesel fuel for small island developing states as well as the adverse impact on climate change from the use of fossil fuels. 

SIDS DOCK was launched in December 2010, in Cancun, Mexico, with four Partners: the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS); United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); The World Bank, and the Government of Denmark, which announced a grant of USD14.5 million in start-up contributions. In December 2011, in Durban, South Africa, the Government of Japan joined the SIDS DOCK Partnership with a pledge of USD 15 million, over two years (2012-2014). In 2009, SIDS DOCK Members began the process of establishing the organisation through a Memorandum of Agreement, and on 1 September 2014, the Ceremony for the Opening of the Signing of the Statute Establishing the SIDS DOCK, is scheduled to take place at the UN Third International Conference on SIDS, in Apia, Samoa.

[1] SIDS DOCK Members: Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Bahamas (Commonwealth of the), Dominica (Commonwealth of), Cabo Verde (Republic of), Cook Islands, Dominican Republic, Fiji (Republic of), Grenada, Jamaica, Kiribati (Republic of), Maldives (Republic of the), Marshall Islands (Republic of the), Mauritius (Republic of), Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru (Republic of), Niue, Palau (Republic of), Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa (Independent State of), São Tomé and Príncipe (Democratic Republic of), Seychelles (Republic of the), Solomon Islands, Suriname (Republic of), Tonga (Kingdom of), Trinidad and Tobago (Republic of), Tuvalu, Vanuatu (Republic of)

Further information on SIDS DOCK participation at Samoa is available at: http://sidsdockforum2014.org/

Contact information:
Dr. Al Binger, Energy Advisor, CARICOM Climate Change Centre, and SIDS DOCK Coordinator, Belize. Email: abinger@sidsdock.org; Telephone: +1 301 873-4522
Mrs. Sheikha Bundhoo, Senior Information Officer, Office of the Prime Minister, Republic of Mauritius, and SIDS DOCK Communications Advisor. Email: jumpy952001@gmail.com; Telephone: +230 5728 0386
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