With international support, the Cook Islands braces for climate change

RELEASE DATE

07 May 2018

The Cook Islands has received $3 million to help build the resilience of its residents and protect their livelihoods from disasters and climate change.

The money, a grant from the Adaptation Fund, will help the Pacific island nation strengthen its disaster risk governance, establish and implement a robust water monitoring, reporting and assessment system and revitalize its agricultural production systems.

The Cook Islands is the first Pacific nation to receive such funds directly. Previously, resources from the Adaptation Fund have been delivered via international organizations such as UN Environment.

Pacific island countries like Cook Islands are among the most vulnerable to climate change, sea-level rise and extreme events. Sea-level rise is expected to worsen floods, lead to storm surges and other hazards that threaten the islands’ infrastructure and facilities that support the livelihood of Cook Islanders and an already fragile subsistence level agricultural sector.

Cook Islands aims to use the funds to strengthen national and local capacity to reduce climate change risks, establish climate resilient water management instruments through an approach that involves communities and to revitalize agricultural production systems. The intention is to support greater food security and protect livelihoods in Pa Enua, particularly islands in the northern group, which comprises seven low-lying, sparsely populated, coral atolls and sand cays.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of our project proposal. The process has not been easy, but is well worth the pursuit. It is the first Adaptation Fund project to be approved under The Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM) as the Cook Islands National Implementing Entity (NIE) and we are excited to start the implementation,” says Krystina Tatuava, Development Programme Manager, MFEM of the Cook Islands.

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Management of the Cook Islands, the designated National Implementation Entity for the Fund, a requirement to access the Fund’s pioneering Direct Access modality, received accreditation in July 2016. It is among the nine countries that UN Environment’s Asia Pacific Office is supporting to acquire accreditation to the Adaptation Fund. This process includes strengthening institutional and financial management capacities as well as ensuring that the Fund’s fiduciary requirements are met, thus enabling countries to directly much-needed funds for climate adaptation.

“On the challenges due to climate change, Pacific countries need critical support to access finance. But more importantly, they need robust and sound national systems and institutions to help them adapt in a way and at a pace that is manageable, and this is what we have done through our support to these countries. It helps set the foundation for solutions and accessing more funds,” said Isabelle Louis, Deputy Regional Director of UN Environment’s Asia and the Pacific Office.

Established in 2001 at the 7th Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC in Marrakech, Morocco and officially launched in 2007 in Bali, Indonesia, the Adaptation Fund finances concrete climate change adaptation projects and programmes that help vulnerable communities in developing countries. The Fund is operated by the Adaptation Fund Board, with the Global Environment Facility as the Secretariat and the World Bank as the Trustee.

UN Environment’s Asia Pacific Office – with financial support from the Ministry of the Environment of Japan – has supported Bhutan, Cambodia, Maldives, Nepal, Palau, Samoa, Sri Lanka and Tuvalu to develop those countries’ institutional and financial management capacities, and to help them meet the fiduciary requirements necessary for Adaptation Fund accreditation.