14th July 2012: Fiji’s Ambassador to the US Mr Winston Thompson represented Fiji at the recently concluded Global Environment Facility (GEF)1 42nd Governing Council Meeting in Washington DC that saw Fiji receiving millions of dollars for its environmental projects. The Ambassador is also stepping up Fiji’s participation in this important global environmental funding agency as Fiji’s diplomatic missions overseas seek to implement Fiji’s Roadmap for Democracy and Sustainable Socio-Economic Development (RDSSED) 2009 – 2014, and the Strategic Framework for Change (SFC) announced by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama on 1st July, 2009.
As Fiji’s Political Focal Point to the GEF Ambassador Thompson attended the three day meeting at the end of which approved the largest work program to date for addressing global environment challenges. The 32 member GEF Council unanimously approved an allocation of US$667 million for the 2012 GEF Projects.
Major decisions affecting Fiji reached during the meeting:
1. Fiji’s GEF-5 Funding Allocation: 2010-2014 - Fiji is allocated US$7.15million for projects in the GEF-5 program year that commenced in 2010 and ends in 2014. These specific funding allocations for three focal areas, namely, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Land Degradation as follows:
Allocations remaining to be programmed
2. Approved GEF Work Programs for 2012. Among the many GEF projects approved for 2012, two directly benefits Fiji. These are projects submitted by regional and international organizations such as FAO on specific activities to assist specific countries:
a. International Waters: Funding for the Region –US$10,000,000. UNDP and FAO jointly submitted a project proposal titled, Implementation of Global and Regional Oceanic Fisheries Conventions and Related Instruments in the Pacific Island Developing States (SIDS. This project worth US$10million will support Pacific SIDS in meeting their obligations to implement and effectively enforce global, regional and sub-regional arrangements for the conservation and management of transboundary oceanic fisheries towards full operationalization of the West and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). It will assist countries to develop and implement comprehensive set of innovative on-the-water conservation and management measures adopted by the WCPFC, for stocks in the region and incorporating ecosystem-based approaches in decision making and informed by sound scientific advice and information. Including Fiji, other countries that will benefit from this project are, Cook Islands, FSM, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, PNG, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Samoa. The implementing agencies will be UNDP, WCPFC and FAO.
b. Climate Change-A Global Project: US7,210,000. The Climate Change project will provide technical support to 22 LCDs and SIDS to prepare national communication reports to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). It will also allow countries to complete greenhouse gas inventories, and prepare vulnerability assessments, in compliance with the guidelines for the preparation of national communications outlined by UNFCC. Fiji, Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands are the only countries from the region that will benefit from this assistance.
3. GEF Supplementary Funds. GEF has also allocated US$9000 to each member country annually, in addition to the project allocation, for hosting of stakeholders’ meetings and monitoring of GEF funded projects at national level.
4. Funding Request: Formulation of Project Proposal. Fiji has requested a sum of US$15,000 from Fiji’s GEF-5 project allocation to support and fund the formulation of project proposals for 2013. The request has been approved and has been released to the Ministry of Environment.
5. Utilization of GEF Funds. At the conclusion of the 42nd meeting of the GEF Council, it was reiterated that SIDS has been underutilizing GEF resources and are not taking full advantage of the funding opportunities. In all the allocations approved for SIDS, only 16% of the total amount was used, a meager amount compared to those utilized by China, India, Brazil and the Americas. Resource and capacity constraints were identified as major impediments, hindering SIDS ability to fully satisfy GEF’s requirements to access funds. A proposal was tabled at the meeting to streamline these requirements, the outcome of which will be known in the November meeting.
Meanwhile Fiji’s Embassy in Washington together with the GEF Secretariat and the Ministry of Environment has jointly coordinated the hosting of a successful GEF sponsored Constituency Expanded Workshop at the Sofitel Hotel in Nadi from 10th-12th July. The workshop is for the members of Fiji’s 17-member Constituency, which includes Indonesia, the current Chair and representative of the Constituency to the GEF Council, Philippines the Alternate and all PICs including East Timor. The aim of the workshop is to bring all stakeholders together and keep them abreast of GEF’s strategies, policies and procedures and more importantly to encourage coordination. It also provides an opportunity for focal points to meet their counterparts from other countries in the region and other GEF partners to discuss and review projects, share lessons experiences from development and implementation of GEF projects and integration within national policy frameworks. Ambassador Thompson and ninety (90) other participants representing the Constituency attended the three day workshop in Nadi.
In another development Fiji’s Embassy in Washington is lobbying for Fiji to represent the Constituency as the Alternate Member in the GEF Council in 2013, and thereafter the Chairmanship in 2014. Representatives of the Constituency at present are held by Indonesia as the member and Philippines the Alternate. Indonesia will complete her two-year team at the end of 2012 and as agreed, Philippines will assume the Chairmanship role and Fiji the Alternate. The Chair of the Constituency will be taken up by Fiji at the end of 2014.The work to solicit the support of members of the Constituency on Fiji’s bid to represent the Constituency.
(Photo caption: Ambassador Thompson)
1Briefly, GEF is the largest public funder of projects to improve the global environment. It is an independent financial organization that provides grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants. GEF unites 182 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society organizations and the privates sector to address global environment issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation P. O. Box 2220 Government Buildings Suva, Fiji