After Paris: Climate Finance in the Pacific Islands
Pacific island countries are working hard to address the escalating realities of climate change, including the impact on land, livelihoods, and on the food and water security of their most vulnerable communities. The need for accessible, predictable, adequate and appropriate financial support to meet the climate crisis is urgent and growing.
Access to climate finance — international funding to support climate action in developing countries — is a matter of global justice: those who have contributed least to the causes of climate change are typically the most vulnerable to its impacts, and have the least resources to respond.
As wealthy industrialised nations, and the largest members of the Pacific Islands Forum, Australia and New Zealand have a particular responsibility to support the needs of their Pacific neighbours. Greater collaboration and collective action among all actors, from the global to the national and local, is necessary to improve access to climate finance.
New research commissioned by Oxfam and resulting in this report, After Paris: Climate finance in the Pacific islands, takes stock of the climate risks facing the Pacific region, and considers these risks in relation to commitments under the Paris Agreement, the complex nature of existing financial flows, current commitments from Australia and New Zealand, and the range of challenges that must be overcome to ensure support reaches those most in need.
Based on interviews with a range of government, civil society and community representatives, this report makes recommendations for urgent action across 11 strategic areas, including improving access to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), aligning support with the plans and priorities of Pacific island countries, prioritising civil society and community initiatives, developing new and innovative sources of funding, and improving reporting and transparency.
After Paris: Climate finance in the Pacific islands updates and extends the findings and recommendations from the 2012 Oxfam research project Owning Adaptation in the Pacific: Strengthening governance of climate adaptation finance. Of major concern since Oxfam’s 2012 report is the escalation of climate change impacts, as predicted by climate scientists. These have included destructive cyclones like Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu and Cyclone Winston in Fiji, as well as sea-level rise and the adverse impact of the powerful 2015–2016 El Niño on food and water resources.
Climate change presents an increasingly existential challenge to people in the Pacific region. Over the coming decades, large numbers of Pacific people — and in some cases entire nations — face displacement from their homes and livelihoods.These realities are yet to be met by a sufficient increase in the scale and accessibility of financial resources. Australia has failed to increase its contribution to international climate finance in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement or in keeping with stronger commitments from other developed nations. Pacific governments understandably remain concerned over the adequacy, predictability and accessibility of funding. Climate finance is generally provided from Official Development Assistance (ODA) budgets but neither Australia nor New Zealand have increased their ODA to support these new commitments in addition to existing aid priorities. Overall, the responsibility of Australia and New Zealand to contribute to the climate financing needs of their Pacific island neighbours remains unmet and underfunded.
While the findings in this report place particular responsibility on Australia and New Zealand, there are recommendations for a range of actors, including Pacific regional agencies, Pacific governments, non-government organisations (NGOs), researchers and the private sector. Collaboration and collective action among all actors can empower Pacific governments and their most vulnerable citizens to build resilience to climate change — in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Mobilising a broad constituency of actors, from the global to the local level, is essential to meet the profound challenges that climate change poses to communities living in the Pacific region.