UK committed to championing SIDS priorities on Climate Change

UK Development Director to the Caribbean, Malcolm Geere
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The United Kingdom is committed to continue supporting and advocating for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) on critical climate issues. The conclusion of COP15 in Canada in December 2022 marked the end of an intense period of climate-linked negotiations. These talks underscore the urgent need for nations to work together to drive action and tackle climate threats.

The UK remains committed to being a SIDS ally. Though we formally handed over our COP Presidency to Egypt last November, we will persevere in pressing to advance SIDS priorities as shown in our strong backing for the establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund at COP27; and reaffirmed during the UK’s subsequent participation in the Conference on the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15).

The challenges faced by SIDS are existential, with their unique combination of climate and economic vulnerabilities serving to undermine their resilience. The United Kingdom has long recognised this and is dedicated to working with our Caribbean partners to ensure these collective challenges are addressed.

Throughout both COP27 and COP15, the UK played a leading role in driving forward progress on negotiations throughout the summit, building on the actions agreed during the UK’s own COP and G7 presidencies. This included: co-leading the development of a ten-point point plan that sets out a clear pathway for bridging the global biodiversity finance gap; securing the Leaders Pledge for Nature last year which commits world leaders to taking action to drive sustainable food production, end the illegal wildlife trade and tackle climate change.

As focus now turns to the implementation of agreements, the UK will continue to work with our Caribbean partners to enhance their economic resilience and ability to adapt to climate impacts, including through direct support through the following initiatives:

· The £40m Small Island Developing States Capacity and Resilience Programme (SIDAR). This programme aims to respond to pressures on SIDS governments arising from climate change and the unique disadvantages created by small population sizes, remoteness, and vulnerability to economic shocks and natural disasters. It will focus on capacity building in regional institutions to allow greater capacity to access, absorb and disperse climate funding throughout the Caribbean. The programme will also engage with sources of climate financing to simplify financing criteria and reduce the bureaucracy required for SIDS to access funding.

· The £36m Sustainable Blue Economies (SBE) programme. The SBE is designed to enhance the resilience of SIDS and their economies, particularly through nature-based economic diversification. This programme will engage with individual Caribbean nations to deliver interventions that address poverty, boost blue economy planning and community implementation support, as well as research the feasibility of diversification opportunities from nature-based solutions that protect critical marine habitats.

Prior to this, the UK supported the agreement reached at COP27 to establish a dedicated Loss and Damage Fund. This is a significant milestone for SIDS – with key opportunities to partner on outlining the parameters of the Fund and its effective functioning.

UK Development Director to the Caribbean, Malcolm Geere said:

“Throughout our COP26 Presidency, the UK strived to drive action on SIDS priorities and amplify the voices of our partners. We launched the Taskforce on Access to Climate Finance recognising that the current international financial architecture is not fit for purpose.

“Pilots have been launched in five countries, including Jamaica, backed by £100m of UK funding. We also launched a joint call to action with Belize, Fiji, and AOSIS at COP26, designed to encourage providers of finance to relook at SIDS financial challenges on debt, onerous bureaucratic systems and eligibility for Overseas Development Assistance.”

UK Export Finance (UKEF) built on these commitments with a further announcement at COP27, outlining that UKEF will be the first export credit agency in the world to offer climate resilient debt clauses (CRDCs) in its lending. These clauses will lead the way on debt relief for SIDS when natural disasters strike, automatically pausing debt repayments and freeing up vital resources to enable a rapid response.

At COP15, the UK was proud to be one of the founding members of the Friends of the SIDS Coalition, where we will support the SIDS Call to Action and ensure the unique circumstances of SIDS are recognised in the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

The UK continues to help countries rise to the challenge and honour what every single Party agreed to in Glasgow. We also remain committed to working with our Caribbean partners to enhance their economic resilience and ability to adapt to climate impacts.

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