Secretariat of the Pacific Community – Global Climate Change Alliance: Pacific Small Island States

The Pacific islands are among the countries most vulnerable to climate change globally, but demonstrate considerable variety in the level of vulnerability between and within countries. Coastal communities, atoll islands, and the densely populated and low-lying deltaic regions on larger islands are particularly vulnerable to even small changes in climatic variables, especially rainfall patterns and tropical storm patterns, and to sea level rise. Vulnerability results from high population densities and growth rates, and scarce natural resources (particularly land and water). High exposure to natural hazards is also an issue in cyclone and typhoon zones. Poorly developed infrastructure, poverty, scarce economic resources and the small size of countries with a high external economic dependency also present challenges.

In this context, the GCCA makes funding available to the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Secretariat of the Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP) to support the preparation of adaptation roadmaps; to finance the implementation of concrete actions in participating countries; and also to implement activities that strengthen capacities and institutions in view of a more effective response to climate change.

Coordinated support at national and regional levels

Overall objective:

Support the governments of the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Tonga, Tuvalu and regional bodies' efforts in tackling the adverse effects of climate change, in line with the Pacific Islands Framework for Action on Climate Change (PIFACC).

Specific objective:

Contribute to a more coherent, coordinated, efficient and mainstreamed way of delivering climate change adaptation support at national and regional level.

Main expected results and activities 

At the national level, countries are better equipped to mainstream climate change in policies, planning processes and country budgets. Concrete adaptation actions are developed and implemented.

Planned activities include the production of 'adaptation roadmaps' providing for the integration of climate change adaptation in the form of climate change resilient strategies in the governments' development policies and budgets; implementation of initial activities foreseen in the roadmaps, and of other strategic adaptation priorities identified by the countries.

This notably involves a review of existing plans and related ongoing actions; coordination meetings/workshops with relevant stakeholders; preparation of a report by country with concrete suggestions on pilot projects; in-country consultation sessions to ensure endorsement of the selected projects, and decision making on the implementation process; and the implementation of pilot projects.

At the regional level, capacity to support national adaptation needs, and to coordinate, promote and establish innovative regional coordinating mechanisms on climate change, is strengthened.

This involves the organisation of, and participation in, workshops, conferences and seminars aimed at coordinating activities in the field of climate change in the Pacific. A new regional mechanism must also be set up to help countries access international funding.

Key achievements 
  • Climate change profiles have been prepared for the nine countries. They provide country-specific background information on development strategies, the economy and financial management, describe the current and future expected climate and the response to climate change (including governance arrangements), assess ongoing climate change activities, and identify national priorities as well as gaps and constraints. They are available as follows:
  • Work is in progress to prepare a national climate change policy for Palau, as well as a Joint National Action Plan for climate change adaptation and disaster risk management in Kiribati and Nauru.
  • Climate change communication training workshops held in Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Kiribati and Tuvalu focusing on different media; one regional documentary and four national climate change documentaries prepared and launched at a side event at the Joint Meeting of the Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management and the Pacific Climate Change Roundtable, 11th July 2013. The five videos are as follows:
    • Adapting to climate change in the smaller Pacific islands: looking forward
    • Adapting to climate change in the Cook Islands: the human health dimension
    • Adapting to climate change in Kiribati: the social dimension
    • Adapting to climate change in Tuvalu: the freshwater dimension
    • Adapting to climate change in the Federated States of Micronesia: the Food and water security dimension

They are currently available in the GCCA and SPC YouTube channel

  • Preparatory work for pilot adaptation projects is well under way. Extensive national consultations involving government, NGOs and community stakeholders were held in each country between March 2012 and February 2013 to determine the focus sector for their projects. These focus sectors include agriculture (1 country), freshwater resource management (4 countries), health (1 country), and coastal zone and marine resources management (3 countries). Project concept notes have been approved for 6 countries, i.e. Tonga, Nauru, Cook Islands, Niue, Palau and Kiribati; their preparation is in progress elsewhere. Following the organisation of a regional training workshop on project preparation and monitoring using the logical framework approach, participatory workshops to design on-the-ground climate change adaptation projects have now been held in 5 countries. Implementation of the Cook Islands project started in April 2013. National coordinators have been recruited to assist with project coordination in Cook Islands, FSM and Tonga. It is anticipated that projects in Nauru, Tuvalu and Marshall Islands will be starting in the first quarter of 2014.
  • With regard to climate change finance, a review was undertaken on the nine project countries and the extent to which climate change is mainstreamed into national and sector policies with a view to informing their access to climate change funds delivered through budget support modalities in particular between June and September 2013. Climate change mainstreaming profiles have been prepared for each country. A regional meeting involving 55 participants from finance and climate change government ministries in Pacific island countries, development partners and international experts was held from 25-27 September 2013 in Tonga to share experiences, promote understanding and advance national priorities relating to climate change finance particularly in relation to budget support..
  • To support regional information and knowledge exchange, a matrix of all SPC climate change activities in the Pacific has been prepared, published, and was updated in 2013. Two regional training workshops have also been conducted to train country representatives from the North and South Pacific countries to upload information into the Pacific Climate Change Portal.
  • Regional cooperation on climate change has been strengthened, notably in the context of the first steering committee and planning meeting held with country partners in May 2012 to plan activities at the national and regional level, a second steering committee meeting held in December 2012 to plan 2013 activities and preparatory work for the Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management and the Pacific Climate Change Round Table (July 2013). The third project Steering Committee meeting was held in Tonga, 30 September – 1st October 2013.
Lessons learned 
  • Fostering project ownership by countries: Most climate change projects in the region are based on a pre-selected sector or area of focus. This project provides countries with the opportunity to prioritize their needs and select the particular area of focus for their field adaptation project and the related mainstreaming activities. In some countries, new procedures have had to be developed which combine community, technical and political involvement.
  • Combining ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ approaches to climate change adaptation: Experience shows that a system embracing both ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ approaches to the adaptation process has the best chance of improving the adaptive capacity of Pacific inhabitants. Through this project, practical experience can be acquired and shared through climate change mainstreaming combined with the implementation of on-the-ground adaptation projects, based on a participatory, community-based and culturally sensitive approach.
  • Delivering training effectively and efficiently: Tools for project preparation, monitoring and evaluation were introduced through regional workshops, followed by more in-depth training delivered through national workshops. This approach is proving to be useful.
  • Using the logical framework approach (LFA) to design on-the-ground adaptation projects: The LFA has been used in multi-stakeholder workshops involving government and community members, and is proving to be a very effective tool to plan and structure project activities.
  • Paving the way for climate-related budget support and enhanced access to climate finance: Helping the countries assess their readiness for climate change funding via general and sector budget support will develop national capacity and enhance communication between finance and climate change stakeholders at the national level. Collaboration with other Pacific regional organisations in this field will in the long term enhance the capacity of Pacific countries to obtain and effectively absorb climate-related funding.
  • Enhancing skills in using local media to portray accurate and effective climate change messaging: The provision of training to media personnel in the preparation and sharing of climate change stories will provide sustainable benefits beyond the life of the project.
Way forward 
  •  Several ongoing activities will continue. Version 2 of climate change profiles should be finalised by the end of June 2013; it will notably include an updated section on national climate change adaptation activities. Further training on the logical framework approach, at the national level this time, has been scheduled to take place between May 2013 and March 2014.
  • Tangible on-the ground climate change adaptation projects will be implemented, supported by mainstreaming activities that will strengthen the concerned sectors in such a way that in the long term, they will become eligible for climate-related funding on a larger scale.
  • Adaptation projects will be evaluated and lessons learned developed and shared regionally and internationally, including through visual and IT media.
  • National sectors including agriculture, marine resources and coastal zone management, freshwater management and health will be strengthened to support the integration of climate change into their activities, plans and budgets.
  • Efforts will also continue to contribute to regional collaboration in the effective delivery of a response to climate change , and technical assistance will be provided so that small island states become more resilient to it.