Press Release - By Makereta Komai for Climate Pasifika in Bonn, Germany10 June 2010, Bonn, Germany --- The European Union has lived up to its promise to support vulnerable countries combat climate change through a financial assistance to the Solomon Islands Government to host an international meeting of Least Developed Countries and members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).
It's providing US$1.1 million to bring to Honiara nearly 200 climate change negotiators from 91 countries that are Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to discuss key climate change issues before the Conference of the Parties in Mexico in December.
Rence Sore, the permanent secretary for environment, conservation and meteorology, who is spearheading Solomon Islands bid to host this meeting, said this is the biggest ever international meeting to be hosted by Solomon Islands.
"We are finalising the dates, it may be at the end of September or the first week of October, said Sore.
Solomon Islands has played an active role both with the LDC and AOSIS negotiating groups within the UN climate change body.
Sore is chair of one of the LDC's influential decision making group while Solomon Islands permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Colin Beck is one of the key negotiators for the Pacific and the AOSIS group.
"The purpose of the meeting is to consolidate the positions of all vulnerable states, which incorporates both the LDCs and small island developing states (SIDS) or AOSIS countries.
"AOSIS is talking about 1.5 degrees ceiling for global temperature and a limit of 350 parts per million in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. We want these positions to be accepted by LDCs too, to strengthen our voice in Cancun, said Sore.
Sore said the aim of the Honiara meeting is to provide a platform to unite all the negotiating positions of LDCs and AOSIS.
"There is a general support for the AOSIS position amongst the 48 LDC countries but we need to convert that support to become unanimous support before Mexico.
"While there have been some compromises here in Bonn on some other key issues like adaptation, mitigation technology transfer, capacity building and financing, we want to 'cement' those positions in Honiara.
The Solomon Islands head of delegation to the Bonn talks assured the proposed meeting is part and parcel of the UNFCCC climate change negotiations.
"The LDC Unit within the UNFCCC will provide technical support for our meeting in Honiara. In that way, we are seeing his meeting as part of the negotiation process. We don't want to isolate this meeting from the UNFCCC process.
"We want this meeting to contribute positively to the outcome of COP16 in Cancun. We don't want this meeting to be done outside of the UN process and not recognised by the negotiation process, said Sore.
The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) will assist the Solomon Islands Government with administrative and logistical support.
Sore attributed Solomon Islands success in bringing this major United Nations conference to the Pacific to the support of the government, paying tribute to both the former minister for environment, Gordon Darcy Lilo and the current minister responsible for environment, conservation and meteorology, Clement Kengava.
"This is credit to the support of the Solomon Islands Government and the contributions of the country's negotiators at the UNFCCC climate change meetings.
"Since my minister came into office, he has established a climate change division with support from the United Nations Development Programme and other stakeholders. There is ownership by the government on climate change.
Sore said nationwide consultations are going on now with all stakeholders to come up with a climate change policy before the LDC/AOSIS meeting towards the end of the year.
At the same time, Solomon Islands is waiting for final approval from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) on the implementation of its national adaptation programmes of action (NAPAs).
"The process normally takes time but we are hopeful that funds through the implementing agency, the World Bank, may come in next year, after almost two years of waiting.
Under the least Development Fund (LDCF) allocation for NAPA funding, Solomon Islands is entitled to US$6 million - $11 million short of what is required to implement its national adaptation projects.
"That is why LDCs have raised their concerns that there is not enough money in the LDCF to cater for our immediate adaptation needs. We need developed countries to replenish the LDCF.
As of May 2009, the LDCF had US$176 million and needs at least $2 billion to finance all the national adaptation plans of its 48 members.
Another major concern is the turn-around time for GEF to approve NAPA plans submitted by LDC countries.
"But, we have been assured that GEF will begin streamlining its process from July this year.
"If that happens, then it will be good news for Solomon Islands because we will not have to wait for long like some LDC countries.
Sore said, Samoa had to wait for five years for GEF's approval.
NAPA proposals are prepared based on a country's immediate needs.
"This is in line with the European Union's criteria for fast start financing. The financial assistance is based on immediate needs, said Sore.
The EU has made it clear that 60 percent of its ?2.4 billion fast start finance promised for 2010 will disbursed through bilateral channels and only 39 percent through existing multilateral institutions.
Ms Makereta Komai will be covering the Bonn Climate Change negotiations from 31 May - 11 June 2010, thanks to support from Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). She will provide daily coverage of the negotiations via PACNEWS and the SPREP website www.sprep.org, the climate pasifika blogspot, http://climatepasifika.blogspot.com and the PINA Green page http://green.pina.com.fj/