Pacific Islands – EU relations: Focus on Climate change

Report
from European Union
Published on 11 Jun 2012 View Original

Brussels, 11 June 2012

Pacific Islands – EU relations: Focus on Climate change

Pacific Islands – EU cooperation

The Pacific Plan for Strengthening Regional Cooperation and Integration, adopted by Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) leaders in 2005, sets out the region’s goals on cooperation and integration from 2006 to 2015 in four areas: economic growth, sustainable development, governance and security.

As a response to the Pacific Plan1, in 2006 the European Union adopted the EU Strategy for a Strengthened Partnership with the Pacific and in 2012 the New Commission Communication: Towards a renewed EU-Pacific development Partnership. The Commission uses a combination of policies and financial resources to put the strategy into effect:

  • Increased development assistance to Pacific Countries and the region.

  • Enhanced EU-PIF political dialogue, through participation in the Annual Forum Meetings and Ministerial Troika Meetings. The dialogue covers matters of common interest, ranging from regional security and governance to economic stability and growth, international trade, environment, climate change and development cooperation.

  • Trilateral Pacific dialogue with Australia and New Zealand at Heads of Mission level, covering: country situations, peace and security in the region, Cairns Compact, climate change, Aid for Trade, energy, budget support and delegated arrangements.

Does climate change have any visible impact on Pacific Countries now?

Unfortunately, climate change impact is already visible and seriously affects Pacific people.

Pacific islands are inundated by rising sea levels, increasing erosion occurs from intense storms, and saltwater intrudes into freshwater supplies. These changes are affecting livelihood activities such as hunting and fishing and impacting on island infrastructure, access to water resources, food and housing availability.

In Small Island States, which are the majority of the Pacific Islands Countries, soil salinity and sea water intrusion are serious threats to agriculture, as well as increased intensity and decreasing frequency in rainfall. Phenomena such as saltwater flooding and droughts have further reduced freshwater supplies for the growing population.

Moreover, Small Island States are affected by changes in surface and subsurface ocean temperatures, ocean acidification and coral bleaching, pest infestations, the deterioration of reef fisheries and an increase in communicable diseases. In addition, Pacific Small Island States have limited opportunities for private sector led growth, face constraints in structural capacity and are very vulnerable to recurrent natural disasters.

Climate change puts further stress on these already fragile situations, can exacerbate tensions around scarce resources such as land or water, has a serious impact on heavy agriculture and hampers progress towards Millennium Development Goals. Also, the frequency and intensity of cyclones or tropical storms, which recurrently hit Pacific Island Countries, will increase as a result of climate change.

It can be anticipated that living conditions will severely deteriorate across the region. Certain islands and even entire countries (Tuvalu or Kiribati) could even see their own physical existence at risk. Relocation from sinking islands is no longer the worst case scenario but a reality in the making.

The EU response – development assistance to the Pacific

Development assistance to the Pacific has increased between the 9th European Development Fund and the 10th European Development Fund (2008-2013):

  • The overall amount available for the period 2008 – 2013 is €750 million; from this amount €677 million is earmarked for Pacific-ACP countries and €73 million for Pacific OCTs;

  • The 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Regional and Country Programmes, signed in 2008, mobilised €475.3 million (a 60% increase compared with the 9th EDF); this amount has now reached € 567 million after the Mid-Term Review (MTR) top-ups and other un-programmed allocations.

  • The 10th EDF Regional Strategy Paper (RSP) and Regional Indicative Programme (RIP) - €95 million. It is broken down as follows: Regional economic integration - €45 million, Sustainable Management of Natural Resources and the Environment - €40 million, Non state actors, technical cooperation, etc. - €10 million. A major part of the implementation is well under way, with projects to a value of €54 million having been included in the Annual Action Plans for 2009 and 2010; MTR top-up €19 million for climate change

  • An additional €27.7 million from the Vulnerability Flex mechanism (2009 and 2010) was mobilised to help the most vulnerable Pacific countries to cope with the Financial Crisis;

  • The Commission has approved a contribution of €10 million to the Pacific Regional Infrastructure Fund (PRIF), in addition to a substantial contribution expected from the European Investment Bank;

  • The Pacific will also benefit from "all-ACP" programmes, such as the "Disaster Facility", the "Migration Facility" or the "Science & Technology research programme".

  • Other intra-ACP allocations for the Pacific include: Water facility, Energy facility and Climate change.
    The Commission is also financing six programmes to Pacific countries through the Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA), amounting for €30.4 million.

What is the Commission doing now to address climate change in the Pacific?

The Commission is leading the EU effort on development cooperation to address climate change in the Pacific. Together with Pacific partners, the Commission is already very actively engaged also in financial terms, with €90 million in ongoing and already planned development cooperation projects and programmes at country and regional level for the period 2008-2013.

The Commission has already approved four programmes through the Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) for €20.4 million in total. Three of them cover specifically Vanuatu, Samoa and Solomon Islands climate resilience specific needs and the other has a multi country dimension, supporting strategic actions on adaptation in 9 Pacific Small Island states, as well as to prepare those countries to efficiently absorb the expected international climate Fast Start funds.

Another two GGCA actions planned for Papua New Guinea (forests) and Timor Leste (range of support notably to local communities' adaptation to climate change) in 2012 bringing the GGCA allocation to the region to €30.4 million in total.

In addition, under the Intra ACP allocation (€ 8 million) a second regional project on climate change, to be implemented by the University of South Pacific, seeks to strengthen capacity building, community engagement and adaptive actions along with applied research.

In addition, other on-going and planned interventions focus on "renewable energies and energy efficiency" and "disaster risk reduction", which are integral part of climate change adaptation strategies. Renewable energy is the focal sector for 7 out of 15 Pacific ACP countries (Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Niue, Nauru, Palau and Tonga) under the 10th European Development Fund, with an amount of €30.5 million (after MTR). The objective is to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency, which will help reduce dependency on fossil fuels and improve the quality of life in the concerned countries.

At regional level, an additional program to address climate change and improve energy security and sustainable livelihoods through strengthening the energy sector is under formulation, notably using the MTR top-up for the climate change. Finally, €20 million have been earmarked for a Pacific Regional Programme on natural disasters risk reduction.- Intra-ACP funding.

Another programme funded under the 9th EDF was the Support to the Energy Sector in Five ACP Northern Pacific Island Countries (REP-5). This programme worked as a multi-country initiative which funds renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in five Pacific Island Countries. The REP-5 programme helped to reduce these countries' dependence on imported fossil fuel as a means of achieving fiscal balance, as well as increasing the availability of electricity services to their outer island communities. After the successful implementation of REP-5, the same programme will now continue under 10th EDF.

EU- Pacific climate change cooperation in political terms / Rio+20

In political terms, EU-Pacific coordination on climate change at the UN has improved. For example, at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiation in Durban, the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the EU built up an alliance to reflect their desire for an ambitious outcome in a common statement. This alliance, will and should be continued and strengthened in support of adopting a single global and comprehensive legal instrument applicable to all Parties by 2015.

As far as the upcoming Rio+20 negotiations are concerned, the EU's objective is to build an alliance with Pacific states, notably seeking support for the goals and targets proposed by the EU on oceans – and on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ), but also on other issues (e.g. sustainable energy for all).

EU is looking forward to continued mobilisation by the Pacific Island countries at Rio, to join our efforts at political level for the best possible result.

Examples of projects:

Strengthening Pacific Economic Integration through Trade (€30 million)

Components include:

Trade facilitation in Customs cooperation. This component will develop modern and competent customs services that adhere to international standards and ensure compliance with international protocols. It includes integration of information communication technology (including training) and harmonised coding systems, as well as strengthening the institutional capacity of the Oceania Customs Organisation. Improving the efficiency of national customs services will be key to enhancing the trade capacity of the region.

Increasing Agricultural Commodity Trade. The action aims at widening the range of tradable products from Pacific ACP countries in the areas of agriculture and forestry, but also aquaculture or animal production. It will further support the organic and ethical industry by implementing and managing the Pacific Organic Standard.

Fostering improved collaboration amongst exporters should enable them to supply larger markets and reduce the risks from climatic and other disasters. The programme includes support to the private sector, for instance assisting at least five timber processors to obtain FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification. It also includes strengthening of national capacities, for instance by training quarantine staff and addressing food safety and issues regarding sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards.

Global Climate Change Alliance Project, University of South Pacific (€8 million)

The implementation is led by the University of the South Pacific (USP).

Examples of actions:

  • Conducting 40 community adaptation projects (e.g., including: mangrove replanting, reforestation of watershed areas, rainwater harvesting and water conservation, , soil retention measures, reduced-impact harvesting etc.)

  • Training students in the science of climate change both at formal academic level (45 postgraduate diplomas, 25 Masters scholarships, 5 PhD scholarships) and also to work with communities on climate change adaptation (300 certified trainers)

Expected Results:

  • Capacity development: Improved capacity of people in the Pacific Islands to understand climate change, its impacts and how to adapt.

  • Community engagement and adaptive action: The capacity of people in the Pacific Islands to design, implement and sustain solutions to help them adapt to climate-change.

  • Applied research: The effects of projected climate change impacts in the Pacific Islands region are better understood through applied research, and adaption actions in a range of sectors and community contexts are monitored and evaluated Other examples:
    Tonga (Niuatoputapu island) €875.000

The only hospital on Niuatoputapu Island, which was at sea level, was destroyed by the October 2010 tsunami. It will be reconstructed at the highest part of the island to account for ocean level rise , with Commission funding.

Marshall Islands, Nauru, Tonga, Tuvalu, Micronesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands. € 9.2 million

The rise in sea level reduces drinking water sources in the area.

In response, the EU provided water tanks in Marshall Islands., Nauru, Tonga, Tuvalu, and financed Emergency Operation Centres for Communications for Micronesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

For example, in Tuvalu, a total of 310 rainwater tanks with 10.000 litre capacity each have been supplied and installed in the capital, Funafuti, benefitting 5000 people i.e. almost half of the country's population.

Under the 10th EDF we will continue the 'emergency' water supply to the outer islands with supply of 10,000 litre tanks to an additional 1233 households i.e. every single household.

On the Marshall Islands, 192 tanks have been installed on the outer islands, along with 450 tanks on Majuro and Ebeye, with 6,000 direct beneficiaries i.e. 10% of the population

Kiribati €6.8 million

We will upgrade existing water infrastructure and provide 350 additional water tanks in 16 Kiribati outer islands (with a population of approx. 43,000 people living in 139 villages)

We will conduct hydro geological assessments, combined with participatory community consultations and water, sanitation and hygiene workshops in those 16 islands; with a view to installing water pumps and sanitation infrastructure.
The percentage of households with access to improved water sources will increase from 53% to 75% by 2013 as a result Micronesian countries (Palau, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia) €14.4 million

Traditional sources of energy among Pacific countries have been fossil fuel dependent, thereby increasingly expensive, extremely damaging to environmental sustainability and to eco-system preservation.

The Commission will finance solar energy provision of households, schools and health centres in Federated States of Micronesia, in the Marshall Islands and in Palau in the North Pacific.

The project will reduce the number of households, schools and medical centres with no access to electricity by 25% ; and reduce domestic electricity consumption by 10% through energy efficiency measures