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The CommonSensing project strengthens the climate resilience of small island nations – Global issues – The news of the pink report

Vineil Narayan on Vio Island in Lautoka. Narayan is a climate finance expert who explains how the CommonSensing project is helping small island states with finance and tools to mitigate climate change and its devastating effects.
  • by Neena Bhandari (Sydney, Australia)
  • Inter Press Service

Vineil Narayan, Climate Finance Specialist and Head of Climate Change and International Cooperation Division, Ministry of Economy, Fiji, talks about using CommonSensing data in climate change adaptation and mitigation; and its potential to access climate finance if needed.

Neena Bhandari: How easy or difficult has Fiji been to access climate finance?

Vineil Narayan: Climate finance is a broad term, which includes the public and private sectors. One of the key challenges for Small Island Developing States (SIDS), particularly in the Pacific, is to be able to attract appropriate finance for climate-focused development projects and programs.

There is a huge gap between the climate finance mobilized and the climate finance needs of the region. In the public sector space, it has been relatively less difficult for us to attract climate finance from bilateral country support or the Green Climate Fund (GCF). But we have struggled to attract climate finance at an appropriate scale from the private sector. This is because we are competing with bigger economies with higher returns and potential for investors.

NB: Why is time running out to access climate finance for Fiji and other Pacific Island countries, which face the immediate impacts of climate change and are more vulnerable to its consequences?

NV: In countries like the United States and Australia, the impacts of climate change, such as the frequency and intensity of bushfires, are only being felt now and people are recognizing that climate change is on the way. happen. But for us in the Pacific, climate change has been a fundamental development challenge for decades. It has already stifled our development progress over a long period of time. The urgency of climate action is not new to us in the region. “Time is running out” is something we have been telling the world for so many years.

During discussions on the Paris Agreement, the Pacific countries notably demanded to limit the temperature target to 1.5 degrees Celsius to reduce climate impacts. We have villages wiped off the map because of storms. We have communities that are disappearing because of the rise in sea level. It poses a significant threat to our neighboring low lying atolls like Kiribati and Tuvalu. They will disappear in the coming decades if we are not able to slow the rise in sea level accelerated by climate change.

Climate change is an immediate existential threat to us. It stresses the need for immediate action and for this we must increase and accelerate the mobilization of climate finance by a significant amount for adaptation and mitigation.

NB: How do you use CommonSensing tools for climate change resettlement and disaster risk reduction and response?

NV: Information is power. When SIDS adaptation projects and programs go to GCF, we are asked: What is the rationale for adaptation? This puzzles me because the impacts of climate change and the need for adaptation are clearly reflected in national development priorities, especially those of the Pacific island countries. So for us, being asked to rationalize is like a slap in the face.

To develop this climate logic, one of the key elements is to have appropriate access to data and information, which are crucial for the mobilization of financing. The CommonSensing project is helping us provide this evidence-based rationale for accessing greater climate finance.

The CommonSensing team, in collaboration with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), was instrumental in helping to define both disaster response measures and needs. For example, mapping what the level of impact of a disaster would be based on the trajectory of a cyclone – number of households in that area, population, number of bridges, water supply facilities and others infrastructure information, as well as identifying the level of damage and coverage that would be required for disaster risk reduction and response. This is something that the CommonSensing project has actually helped the National Office for Disaster Management, by doing post-disaster mapping of areas affected by three major cyclones that have hit Fiji in the past 14 months.

When it comes to relocation, it is important that when you relocate a community from point A to point B, you can take into account geospatial dynamics and contingencies. In the past, relocation has occurred when a coastal community has been moved, but torrential rains and limited geospatial knowledge of this area have resulted in landslides.

The CommonSensing project helps us better understand, for example, the safe altitude level of a particular area where we want to relocate a community; How far is it from school, from the electricity grid, from the road? This geospatial information and risk mapping is very powerful in enabling us to make informed political decisions about whether and how to relocate a community.

In addition to this, the Fijian government has developed the Guidelines for Planned Relocation, which help government agencies better understand their roles and responsibilities when it comes to resettling a community. We must take into account not only the movement of infrastructure, but also the transition of socio-economic livelihoods and customary obligations to ensure that the relocated community is accepted by the community, where it is relocated.

We are also developing a standard operating procedure – a step by step process of how a community will be relocated. As part of standard operating procedures, one of the basic things is to do a climate vulnerability assessment of a particular community. And as part of this risk assessment, one of the key steps is to use CommonSensing data to be able to determine whether this community or the region it comes from actually faces geospatial risks.

CommonSensing geospatial data helps determine if sea level rise is an issue; what would be the appropriate vegetation around a particular area so that we can better understand what the livelihoods of that community would be. For example, if we move a coastal community, which depends on fishing, inland, then it will be necessary to build its capacity and help its livelihood to move from a fishing community to a new one. farming community.

This robust CommonSensing data helps make informed decisions when it comes to resettlement and post-disaster needs assessment work.

NB: What is the potential of these satellite Earth observation data to access climate finance?

NV: Currently, we do not use this data to access climate finance, but it is our ultimate goal. We would like to integrate this information into our future climate finance applications to make them bankable. We are not only working on it, but as part of the CommonSensing project, we are also receiving support from the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub.

For four weeks, we are currently bringing together 19 teams of actors in workshops to develop project proposals using CommonSensing data. These project proposals will feed into the Fijian government project pipeline that we wish to submit to the GCF for funding.

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© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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