Fiji: We need loss and damage finance from international community to relocate hard-hit islanders

Fiji’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dr Satyendra Prasad told us, from COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, that the negotiations are going far too slowly. He urges negotiators to recognise the climate emergency happening outside the conference and bring that sense of urgency to talks inside.

Adaptation finance

Ambassador Prasad argues that the lack of progress in meeting the US$100 billion in climate finance commitments from richer countries to poorer ones is unacceptable; and the 2021 commitment (at Glasgow COP26) to double adaptation funding by 2025 is equally critical.

Without resources to undertake effective climate change adaptation today, two problems arise:

1. the cost of adaptation will only get higher for small island states, and

2. they will suffer more losses and damages that could have been avoided.

Loss and damage finance

Fiji is actively moving communities out of harm’s way. However, the Government of Fiji lacks the domestic resources to rise to the scale of the challenge:

Forty eight Fijian communities are at the “very front of the frontlines” of the climate crisis, Ambassador Prasad says. Homes and gardens are destroyed by tidal surges, while slow-onset sea level rise poisons freshwater supplies. These communities need to be properly relocated to safety. So far, the Government of Fiji only has enough funds to relocate four communities at present.

“Loss and damage is not theoretical” Ambassador Prasad asserted: Fiji is living with it daily. Climate-related loss and damage is costing lives.

Fiji, along with other Small Island Developing States, is calling on Parties to operationalise a Loss and Damage Finance Facility. If such a facility were available now, it would support countries like Fiji to safely relocate all of its high-risk communities.

Video recording and editing by Pat Hinton, CASA. Extra writing by Mairi Dupar. Image, top (c) NASA Goddard Center.

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