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Provide Financial Support, Not Loans to developing Countries : Fiji PM tells Developed Countries leaders

By Pita Ligaiula in New York

“Our progress will mean nothing if we do not address the climate crisis,” says Pacific SIDS chair and Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

Addressing World leaders on the SAMOA Pathway midterm review in New York Friday, Bainimarama says that effort requires they strike a balance between building resilience and debt sustainability.

“We need to expand the available pool of finance and draw significantly more from the private sector. To do that, we need to understand what private capital markets need in order to invest for attractive returns in developing countries.

“Fiji has already listed the first sovereign Green Bond by an emerging market and we are planning for a Blue Bond and a Shipping Bond. And we’ve worked with the Green Climate Fund to leverage Asian Development Bank support for a large climate-resilient water infrastructure project in our capital, Suva.

But the fundamental problem is that these initiatives are not enough,” said Bainimarama.

He has called on developed country governments to rethink the way they provide assistance to developing countries to include the provision of loan or risk guarantees as a means of encouraging private sector investment.
“We need more blended finance.

“Concessional finance and even zero interest loans, or loans that are linked to meeting the sustainable development criteria must all be on the table. As well as broadening debt-for-nature swaps to include debt-for-sustainable development or debt-for-climate swaps.

“Importantly, institutions such as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank should place the implementation of the SDGs over immediate investment returns.  And most of all, we need to move away from casting countries solely as middle income and least developed, and provide sustainable finance – on the most favourable terms – on the basis of vulnerability,” Bainimarama emphasised.

“As Cyclone Winston in Fiji and Hurricane Doran in the Bahamas have made clear: the devastation of climatic disasters demands access to direct financial assistance to enable rebuilding efforts that strengthen climate resilience and which are financed by an innovative blend of private and public sector capital,” Bainimarama World leaders.

He said if there’s one place the UN system can undoubtedly make a difference, it’s in helping fund small states to carry out work we know – and we are proving – can be done.

“Continuing vulnerability remains the central challenge for small states, including to the vagaries of global conditions beyond our control and contractions in the world’s larger economies.

“These challenges demand we continue to make our economies more efficient, guided by the hallmarks of good governance, transparency, accountability and zero tolerance for corruption. In doing so, we sustain the confidence of our development partners, the Multilateral Development Banks we look to for infrastructure development, and the domestic and foreign investors who keep our job markets and export revenues healthy,” Bainimarama explained.

Speaking at the session, Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai said in the Pacific region, climate and ocean are warming.

“Our sea levels are rising at double the global average and our corals are dying. Disasters, in particular cyclones, flooding and droughts have increased in intensity and costs. Catastrophic events are undoing decades of progress, taking lives, destroying infrastructure, homes, biodiversity and adversely affecting food, water security, livelihoods and service.

“Costs to regional GDP of climate change induced disasters quadrupled from 3.8 % in 2013 to 15.6% in 2016. Category 5 Cyclones Pam, Winston and Gita caused 64%, 30% and 38% of GDP losses in Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga respectively. Pockets of populations in the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Tuvalu and Fiji have already been displaced due to climate impacts, said Salwai.

Speaking passionately about the challenges faced by Pacific Islands and SIDS, Ocean activist and actor Jason Momoa challenge World leaders to walk the talk on climate action.

“Change cannot come in 2050, or 2030, or even 2025. The change must come today. We can no longer afford the luxury of half-assing it as we willingly force ourselves beyond the threshold of no return.

 “We the island nations and all coastal communities are the front lines in this environmental crisis.

“The oceans are in a state of emergency. Entire marine ecosystems are vanishing with the warming of the seas. And as the waste of the world empties into our waters, we face the devastating crisis of plastic pollution.”
“We are a disease that is infecting our planet,” Momoa said.

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