By Brian Lezutuni
Climate finance brings in big money – more than SBD$1.1 billion SBD (US$159.6 million) in the past 10 years.
If initiatives to be put to the Forum Economic Ministers’ meeting this week are endorsed Solomon Islands may see that figure increase – with private sector involvement.
Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Climate Finance adviser Exsley Taloiburi says at a time when COVID-19 has impacted businesses across the Pacific, it is fundamentally critical that governments work closely with the private sector to access global climate funds such as the GCF (Green Climate Fund) in order to create jobs, promote COVID-19 recovery, and facilitate public-private partnerships.
“Globally around 69% of all climate finance being mobilised comes from the private sector. If the Solomon Islands is not willing or prepared to work together with its private sector stakeholders, then our country will miss out on the majority of global climate finance available,” he told Island Sun from his Suva Office.
Mr Taloiburi said the private sector has a key role, where they could be recipients of global climate funds, such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
Already, the private sector in Cook Islands, Vanuatu and Tonga are accessing Green Climate Fund readiness grants. Apart from direct access, regional businesses could act as conduits in the provision of financing, either in the insurance space, or when it comes to disaster related costs.
In providing workable suggestions on how the Government can work with the Private sector in accessing these funds Mr Taloiburi suggests that first, the government focal points for these global climate funds should encourage the private sector to put forward project ideas and concepts.
“Secondly, include the private sector in relevant national steering committees etc… and ensure the needs of the private sector are included and costed in national plans and GCF Country Programmes which set out Solomon Islands project pipeline.
“Thirdly, consider formalising arrangements on climate finance between the government and the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industries (SICCI).
“Finally, support private sector short term attachment with government ministries, or government officials attach with reputable businesses. Such peer-to-peer learnings could benefit Solomon Islands in the long term,” he remarked.
Mr Taloiburi stressed that there are many benefits to the economy when government strengthens private sector engagement in climate finance.
Those benefits include leveraging private finance, access to innovative approaches and technologies, new job creation, payment of more taxes and building the resiliencies of businesses to stay in business during and post Covid-19.
Solomon Islands also has work to do on its government processes if it wants to access more climate funding.
“There is a misconception that because Solomon Islands is a vulnerable country to climate change, it gives us a better chance of accessing more climate funding,” Mr Taloiburi said.
“The reality is that countries who are successful in accessing global climate funding are those that have strong/robust national public financial management (PFM) systems, and not so much based on their level of vulnerability.