With the slogan “Together for implementation”, COP 27 will focus on delivering greenhouse gas emission reductions and helping ensure a just transition to a net-zero economy. This year, 14 Pacific Island countries (PICs) will attend the conference to raise their voices and advocate for the target of “1.5 to stay alive”. From securing food systems, to ensuring the preservation of marine resources and implementing nationally determined contributions, PICs expect more than commitments this year…
Pacific Islands are often described as highly vulnerable to climate change and lacking adaptation options. What are the challenges for PICs at COP 27 this year? What will be the key topics highlighted in Sharm el Sheik?
Six experts from the Pacific Community (SPC) will support PICs at COP 27: Karen Mapusua, Director of SPC’s Land Resources Division, Anne-Claire Goarant, Project manager, Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability Programme, Espen Ronneberg, Climate change senior adviser, Dirk Snyman, Climate finance coordinator, Ludwig Kumoru, Fisheries advisor, and Maëva Tesan, Climate change information, communications and knowledge management officer - on the eve of COP27, we asked them their thought on the upcoming negotiations.
Q: What is the main subject that countries will have to defend this year at COP 27?
A (Espen Ronneberg): Loss and damage as long been a Pacific concern, as we realise that the international community is not taking sufficiently ambitious mitigation action, and that adaptation financing is not flowing at the rates commensurate with the problem. If the situation is not remedied, then the Pacific will inevitably face loss and damage issues, and this is likely to be one of the main challenges to be raised at COP 27. Hence, this year, countries will defend the moto “1.5 to stay alive”, a way to promote the need to keep the global warming below 1.5 degree Celsius if we want to secure our resources and blue planet.
Q: COP26 failed to deliver on $100B climate finance to developing countries. Why is reaching this goal vital for PICs and why is access to climate finance a priority?
A (Dirk Snyman): In general, it must be said that the Pacific is severely capacity constrained and has numerous challenges in accessing climate change finance. Access to climate finance is not a challenge regarding the amount of money needed but about the processes and administrative work to access it. PICs have limited capacity to work on such requests and need to work with accredited entities to do so.
We now do have in place two regional accredited entities – SPC and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, but their ability to support accessing and implementing projects is limited. SPC is of the view that a maximum of two projects can be undertaken each year, and for larger projects these may take up to two years just to complete the application process.
Q: For the first time this year, COP will host a Food Systems Pavilion. Why is new vision needed on how food systems will operate in the future in the face of climate change?
A (Karen Mapusua): At COP27, the first-ever Food Systems Pavilion will aim to focus on strategies and solutions across the entire food value chain that have the potential to drive the transformation towards resilient, healthier and more equitable food systems. To date, the food system accounts for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions, 70% of all freshwater use and 50% of all habitable land use, so transforming our food systems is one of the most impactful things we can to for our climate and environment. There is a growing recognition that we cannot aim only for sustainability anymore, we need our food systems to be regenerative, to help rebuild the ecosystems on which food production depends.
This challenge is particularly important for the Blue Pacific region as it is estimated that between 50 and 70% of Pacific people depend on agriculture and fishing and associated activities for their livelihoods. Pacific Food Systems heavily rely upon a perfect symbiosis between communities, the land on which they live and the vast ocean that surrounds them. SPC will pay a particular attention to the announcements and new commitments that will be made related to food systems and will be supporting building international awareness of the specific challenges of the Pacific under the weight of the current global food system.