“You can quarantine COVID-19 but climate change cannot be quarantined” PIFS Climate Change Finance Adviser, Exsley Taloiburi says.
Taloiburi’s comments came as Economic and Finance Ministers are having a discussion on the economic and social impacts of COVID-19.
He says while a number of Forum Island countries have already accessed disaster risk funding from the likes of World Band and ADB to respond to COVID-19, there are still no forum island countries actually pursuing any project under the investment priority area of the Green Climate Fund.
“So currently the Green Climate Fund (GCF) has health as one of the eight priority areas which none of our Forum island countries has tapped into yet”, Taloiburi says.
He says a possible project under the health component would be the relocation of a hospital.
“Most of our public hospitals are close to coastal areas and where there are also effects of sea level rise, while doing that when you are building a new hospital you could also then build quarantine rooms in those areas that could also be relevant for issues like pandemics in the future”, Taloiburi says.
He says when countries have the opportunity; they should be able to fulfill the requirements needed for COVID-19.
“In terms of the wards where you can admit people and the testing abilities of the facilities, and the quarantine requirements and so forth” Taloiburi says.
In the Pacific, Solomon Islands is one of the countries in the process of relocating its hospital. While discussions had been ongoing for some time, it was only five years ago that the cabinet had agreed for a relocation of the hospital.
It is understood a taskforce was established to prepare details of the relocation. A business case or proposal should now be ready to present to the cabinet for deliberation.
At the same time, Tuvalu Finance Minister and Chair of FEMM 2020, Hon. Seve Paeniu says Pacific Island countries are not aware of the said component of the GCF.
In a press conference with regional journalists, Paeniu says this has been put to the attention of Ministers at the Forum Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM).
“That's an information that is being progressed by ministers to ensure that our communities are able to access these resources”, Paeniu says.
In Solomon Islands the Ministry of Environment Climate Change and Disaster Management (MECCDM) is the body responsible for GCF.
The GCF has been included as an international organization under Solomon Islands Immunity and Privileges Act.
Georgina Kekea is part of the Online Workshop for Pacific Journalists covering the Forum Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM2020), supported by PACMAS, PIFS and PINA.