Press Release - Cancun, Mexico - Tuvalu's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Enele Sopoaga has urged the climate change Adaptation Fund Board to provide greater capacity building for islands that are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

By Stanley Simpson Climate Pasifika Media Team

"The issue of capacity is real and should be addressed seriously," Sopoaga told Board chairman Farouk Khan.

"I urge the Board to conduct workshops training and awareness development at regional and national level to enable these countries to draft and come up with proposals that can be submitted for consideration. "

The Adaptation Fund Board approves funding to countries that meet the criteria for climate change adaptation projects.

However Sopoaga pointed out that Small Island States were struggling to fulfill the eligibility criteria to access funds.

"In order for entities to be accredited as National Implementing Agencies they have to prove capacity for sound financial management and sound reporting practices among others - many of our small island countries don't have that capacity because of our limited human capacity, and also our limited infrastructure," said Sopoaga.

He urged the board to bear in mind Article 12.8 of the Kyoto Protocol which calls for support for developing countries that are particularly vulnerable.

In response chairman Farouk Khan noted that has heard the issue for capacity building for some time now.

"We are very conscious of reducing the number of standards that are applicable in this case without undermining the integrity and fiduciary standards - but yes the capacity question is there," Khan said.

"I have addressed that question to our bilateral donors and Multilateral Implementing Agencies encouraging them to help facilitate the developing countries - particularly the small island countries to help establish the National Implementing Entities."

"The Board is conscious of the need for capacity. We are throwing our weight behind every other initiative that can boost that capacity in the developing countries."

However he insisted the requirements they have listed are not as vigorous or not as extensive as those one would find in any other board.

"It is also important that countries work towards overcoming these barriers themselves. It is time for countries to take charge of that situation - ask your bilateral partners to help assist in implementing or promoting your National Implementing Agencies."

Deputy PM Sopoaga says capacity building is needed not only drafting proposals but also for implementing them.

"When you are talking about international standards, fiduciary standards of the World Bank, these are terminology and standards that are quite foreign to countries like Tuvalu with small administrations. We really need assistance in understanding and satisfying these standards."

"We also need capacity building in actually implementing the projects in accordance with the criteria of the Board."

He says small island vulnerable states need access to funds for adaptation to build seawalls, water storage and similar projects but if these criteria stand in the way, they need to be addressed.

He further urged a wider scope in projects eligible for the Adaptation Fund.

"They need to also improve the capacity of the community to food security, even education to help our children cope with the impact of climate change - that needs to be part of the adaptation actions as well."

"Adaptation is also about human development."