World Bank commitment to climate change resilience
World Bank to lay its plans to help small island countries improve resilience to climate change at SIDS conference in Apia.
The World Bank's climate change advocate says the Bank's key role is to ensure small island states have improved resilience to the effects of climate change.
The Bank will be one of many agencies making its services available during this week's United Nations Small Island Developing States Conference in Samoa.
A Bank vice president and special envoy for climate change, Rachel Kyte, acknowledges that the small islands nations are becoming increasing angry at the lack of progress by developed nations in confronting the issue.
RACHEL KYTE: I think that there has been a building up of frustration within small island developing states over the course of these conferences the first of which was held 21 years ago in Barbados and at that time we were talking about the things that might happen to their economy as a result of climate change and you know here we are 21 years later and they are happening. You've got salt water intrusion which is affecting fresh water security, there's been difficulty in moving these economies into renewable energy so that they're able to afford energy sources, there's sea level rise, that's becoming clearer and clearer we understand sea level rise much more, and the ocean's are acidifying which is having an impact on corals and potentially fish stocks. So the rising frustration is for very real reasons and in the World Bank group what we're trying to do is change the way we work in support of islands, recognising that they have small governments, small civil services, and that all of the many many different windows of funding that have opened up across the international community in support of small islands need to be much easier to access.
DON WISEMAN: In the end that becomes the critical issue isn't it because the small island states have been saying for a long time now that it's all very well to offer money but we can't get it.
RK: I think that there are many many different windows, some for climate adaptation, some for development, some for resilience, and there are more opening up all of the time, and I think the responsibility of the international community is to take the burden of arbitrage of all of these different windows away from the individual small islands and create platforms of funding into which the small island states can go, I think we've had some success with that, I mean we have catastrophe risk bonds which mean that we were able to pay out within a couple of weeks when Tonga experienced the latest extreme weather event and so we do know now better how to get the money into an economy in a quick way when it's needed, using regional platforms and I think we need to do much more of that.
DW: Does that remain the critical area where the World Bank feels it can have some impact?
RK: I think the critical area for us in support of Pacific small island states is to build their resilience, so all of the development spending that is going into these islands has to enhance their resilience to the impacts of climate change and while we're doing that then we need to be finding ways in which to support livelihoods and find ways in which to build investments that will allow people to have jobs and allow people to have a successful prosperous life on those islands. For some of the islands obviously we're now talking about really short time frames, unless sea level rise is arrested, then the culture of certain islands becomes highly compromised very quickly so how can we get investment into these islands so that people have jobs, and livelihoods while we're building the development of these islands in a more resilient way.
DW: Again, something that's being called for as you alluded before, right from the beginning 21 years ago, and it's been a very slow process hasn't it? Are you hoping, do you anticipate there's going to be a dramatic escalation or acceleration after a meeting like this?
RK: I don't think it's been slow, I think if you look in terms of finances then I think that some would criticise the international community for not having come through with enough resources. But I think the resources are there the question is, how can they be used more effectively, and how can we learn the lessons in one island and then allow that to be something that can be replicated across many islands with slightly different problems and slightly different administrative set ups. So I think that we're learning, we've turned the tide now in terms of focusing on investment. I think that one of the big changes I think in the way in which we think about small island developing states has been in the way in which we look at their oceans, obviously New Zealand has played a very important role in supporting the enforcement of zones within the Pacific and now organisations like ours and others are investing in the ability of the oceans to land more of their ocean resources on shore so that they can then earn more revenue and invest that revenue themselves in their own resilience rather than just putting them at the end of a development aid drip-feed as it was once described to me. So small island developing states, yes, but at the same time they're great ocean states and there's plenty to invest in there.
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