By Henry Yamo on Rarotonga
Oxfam has called for a “fair and binding” international agreement to boost strategic funding for climate change adaptation for all Pacific countries.
“Much more needs to be done to access climate change finance – a core message is that response to climate change depends heavily on building in-country capacity,” executive director of Oxfam New Zealand Barry Coates said today at the launch of a new Oxfam report on climate change in the Cook Islands.
“And for such capacity to be fully effective, it requires collaboration between all actors at all levels of society.”
Coates said this included non-state actors such as business, private entities, NGOs, churches, women and youth networks and local customary authorities.
However, the potential for better corporation would remain untapped unless effective climate change strategies were undertaken in five key areas – enhancing national capacity, strengthening partnership and coordination, sharing information, increasing communication and direct access to climate finance.
The report on strengthening climate change finance and governance in the Pacific, Owning Adaption in the Pacific, was launched on Rarotonga, Cook Islands, while Pacific Islands Forum leaders were in retreat at Aitutaki.
The report was launched by Richard Benyon, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Natural Environment and Fisheries in DEFRA.
“Our support comes from a deep commitment by the British government to play our part in building resilience to the devastating effects of climate change in the Pacific,” Benyon said.
“The ultimate goal of this collective act is to empower Pacific communities most vulnerable to climate change together with their government to drive the way adaptation is used to meet their needs.”
The report is a result of research undertaken by Oxfam in three Pacific countries – Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Vanuatu – on the challenges of mitigating and adapting to climate change.
Benyon said the British government was pleased to support climate change adaptation and crucially to provide support for developing countries through working with Oxfam.
“To address the most tremendous challenges of our time which is of course climate change, I thank those who took part in this independent report from Oxfam,” he said.
The report looked at all factors that are helping or hindering specific countries access and use climate funding for adaptation so that climate resources reach those most in need at the frontline of climate change.
“As a government we are stepping up our responsibilities to progress negotiations to secure additional climate finance, we know it is crucial for the countries to protect the affected communities,” Benyon said.
Speaking on behalf of the Papua New Guinean government, National Planning Minister, Charles Abal thanked the British government and Oxfam for the report.
He said as a government, the United Kingdom would take a “higher step” to look at climate change in the country.
Abal said that the challenge of climate change in the Pacific was common.
He thanked Oxfam for choosing Papua New Guinea as one of the case studies looking at some of the ways in which climate change was affecting the country.
“As minister, I wish to take a high level approach to climate change in the country and have in place responsible environmental policies,” he said.
“I want to bring a strategic approach to recognising some of the mistakes made and approaches highlighted by this report.”
He said governments tended to ignore the primary causes and dealt with the symptoms so “we have to start to elevate some of these issues and environmental responsibilities” caused primarily by the impact of the human foot print.
Henry Yamo is a postgraduate student and journalist at AUT University reporting for the Pacific Media Centre and Cook Islands News.