What the world can learn from Fiji's national climate strategy

On a transparent day, Soliyaga, a centuries-old Fijian village on Beqa Island, captivates with breathtaking beauty. The village’s 26 houses are nestled into several acres of flat land between Beqa’s mountainous interior and a deep bay. But this idyllic calm belies the village’s increasingly cloudy future.

Residents have long relied on the land and ocean to sustain their livelihoods. Beqa’s interior is abundantly fertile, enabling villagers to cultivate staples of the Fijian food plan, comparable to cassava, dalo, coconuts and pineapple. They sell them to nearby resorts or within the Navua and Suva markets, an hour away by boat. From the bay, villagers collect fish, crabs, prawns and other marine animals.

Soliyaga’s setting has all the time left it vulnerable to weather and climate events. Tropical rains can cascade down the mountains and inundate the village. At high tide, Soliyaga has no visible beach, making it vulnerable to storm surge. Historically, Soliyaga would experience a handful of flooding or cyclone events every couple of years — not ideal, but manageable.

Along with resilience, the strategy also covers mitigation.

In recent times, though, such flood events have turn out to be more frequent and intense. Inland flooding or storm surge occur multiple times a 12 months, damaging and destroying houses. The ocean has noticeably risen and threatens the village’s water supply and soil. Fishing spots, once plentiful, have turn out to be more unpredictable as warmer, more acidic waters disrupt the marine ecosystem.

Villagers have tried to adapt. They built canals to divert inland floodwaters around the skin of the village, in addition to a sea wall. However the canals still allow seawater to flow into the village, and the ocean wall is already cracking.

Soliyaga is hardly alone in these challenges: Villages similar to it throughout Fiji and other island nations face similar escalating threats from climate change. But unlike many other countries, Fiji has a blueprint for shielding vulnerable communities comparable to Soliyaga.

Climate finance for vulnerable communities

Almost every country on this planet has a policy or plan for climate motion. Not all of them actually match the severity of the issue. Fewer still offer a plan for financing the actions crucial for a low-carbon, climate-resilient future.

That is where Fiji stands out. As a part of its ongoing partnership with the Fijian Climate Change and International Cooperation Division (CCICD), WRI’s Finance Center helped develop a National Climate Finance Strategy for Fiji. The strategy pinpoints projects best suited to guard the country’s at-risk communities.

Unlike most other countries’ climate-related plans, the strategy is predicated on an evaluation of how much money the country will need to satisfy its climate goals, which projects are already receiving financial support and which climate priorities are underfunded. It was created through widespread consultation with nearly all of Fiji’s government ministries and development partners.

The strategy is aligned with Fiji’s recently enacted Climate Change Act, which declares a climate emergency and commits the country to decarbonize by 2050. The strategy also provides an in depth roadmap in Fiji’s negotiations with climate finance providers comparable to the Green Climate Fund, a multibillion fund that channels climate finance from developed nations to developing ones. Before they’ll comply with finance a project, many funders appreciate a consultative-based strategy that demonstrates country ownership over climate priorities. The depth and breadth of Fiji’s National Climate Finance Strategy is designed to satisfy this need and provides the Fijian government additional leverage in conversations with development partners.

A have a look at Fiji’s national climate finance strategy

Greater than 40 percent of Fiji’s climate spending comes from international funders; the remaining is from the Fijian government. The National Climate Finance Strategy identifies 12 economic sectors in need of adaptation and decarbonization, from agriculture to water and sanitation.

A blueprint for constructing resilience in Fiji

For instance, one project included within the strategy is the early-warning One Pacific Program. This program would gather relevant climate data; develop multi-hazard monitoring, prediction and projection services; and expand the real-time communication systems of the 14 Pacific Island nations. Sophisticated early-warning systems can provide more targeted and actionable warnings to distant villages comparable to Soliyaga — a decisive difference that offers residents time to secure their belongings and retreat to safety before impending disasters reach the shore. The Fijian government is working with several technical partners and their regional counterparts to finalize the project and secure funding.

Certainly one of the highest priorities within the strategy’s blue economy sector is expanding the Ministry of Waterways’ coastal erosion protection works program, which protects coastal Fijian villages against sea level rise, storm surges and other climate-related impacts. The ministry’s priority under this system is to construct nature-based seawalls, which mix mangroves, boulders from the villages, and vetiver grass to shelter coastal communities and stop coastal erosion or relocation. The ministry received requests for assistance from no less than 121 communities for these seawalls — a number that grows monthly — but lacks funding to construct most of them.

A mangrove forest’s tangle of roots turn out to be visible at low tide. Nature-based seawalls can shelter coastal communities in Fiji from coastal erosion and help avoid relocation. Image credit: Victor Hejna/Shutterstock

For some villages, nonetheless, relocation could also be unavoidable. The Fijian government has identified 42 communities to be assessed for relocation. The Strategy includes calls for investments to solidify and scale transparent and inclusive relocation efforts where crucial and to prioritize urgent adaptation investments to delay relocation where possible. To solidify and scale crucial relocation efforts, the strategy focuses on expanding Fiji’s Climate Relocation of Communities Trust Fund, launched in 2019 to guard vulnerable communities from growing climate impacts.

The strategy also identifies ways to construct climate resilience within the health sector. They include expanding the capability of the Fijian Ministry of Health to diagnose and treat climate-related diseases and health issues, particularly in rural and maritime communities, and upgrading existing healthcare infrastructure so it will possibly withstand category-five cyclones and other severe weather.

The strategy explicitly calls on projects to include women and other marginalized populations into investment planning, in addition to collect disaggregated data on how these groups are affected by project activities. 

Reducing Fiji’s emissions

Along with resilience, the strategy also covers mitigation.

For instance, the strategy envisions expanded solar and wind generation, including a mixture of utility-scale wind and solar generation for the foremost island, Viti Levu, in addition to mini-grids for communities comparable to Soliyaga on Fiji’s outer islands. The following step to a low-carbon, resilient grid, as detailed within the strategy, could be to introduce and scale lithium-ion batteries for electricity storage.

The strategy also targets electrifying Fiji’s transportation options. The strategy offers concept notes to impress the general public bus system and government vehicle fleet, to process and recycle retired combustion engines, and to put in charging infrastructure to support private electric vehicle use.

With an in depth climate finance plan comparable to Fiji’s, countries might help solve the crux of the climate adaptation challenge.

The Pacific Blue Shipping Partnership Program goals to decarbonize shipping in Fiji and the Marshall Islands, with potential support from other Pacific Islands. This may include piloting and scaling electric ships and expanding port infrastructure to support them. Along with reducing emissions, decarbonized shipping would drastically reduce diesel pollution within the ocean, improve marine ecosystem health and reduce villagers’ costs of transporting fish and agricultural products to market.

Connecting climate finance to the projects that need it most

In brief, the National Climate Finance Strategy lays out an economy-wide blueprint for the way Fiji can construct a net-zero, climate-resilient economy and ensure a secure future for villages comparable to Soliyaga.  

Now comes the following and most important step in ensuring the strategy generates impact: funding the projects it identifies.

To that end, Fiji has already successfully submitted its climate finance technique to the Green Climate Fund. Going forward, projects in Fiji in search of GCF funding might want to show alignment with the strategy. Fiji’s Climate Change and International Cooperation Division (CCICD) is using the strategy to make a decision which concept notes to further develop and which to emphasise in conversations with donors. Moreover, because it develops funding proposals, CCICD staff are using the strategy as each inspiration for ideas and as evidence that the projects are consistent with Fiji’s climate goals.

Lessons for other countries

Fiji’s National Climate Finance Strategy also offers three lessons for other countries seeking to similarly program their climate finance:

First, tailor the strategy to enrich existing climate plans, implement existing laws, and meet the needs of the audience. Fiji’s National Climate Finance Strategy builds off, fills within the gaps, and streamlines the present batch of strategies and priorities, a lot of which were developed through their very own consultative processes and are valued by each the Fijian government and Fiji’s development partners. It also fulfills a requirement from Fiji’s Climate Change Act that the federal government develop a national climate finance strategy.

Second, tie higher-level strategies as closely as possible to specific actions; don’t be generic. Fiji’s strategy includes lots of the common high-level climate goals, comparable to “decarbonize transport,” “achieve 100% renewable energy generation” or “rehabilitate vital ecosystems,” after which pinpoints specific actions, projects and investments that have to be made to realize these goals. In doing so, the strategy explains each where Fiji is attempting to go and the way, specifically, it will possibly get there.

Third, be intentional about including priorities on social equity, human health and climate relocation. Each topic is on the forefront of where climate impacts pose the best risks to vulnerable communities and folks, but they’re among the many least funded climate priorities.

With an in depth climate finance plan comparable to Fiji’s, countries might help solve the crux of the climate adaptation challenge: getting resources to the communities most threatened by climate change and least equipped to take care of its impacts.

How WRI helped create Fiji’s first national climate finance strategy

To create Fiji’s National Climate Finance Strategy (NCFS), we mapped the entire country’s identified climate-related policies, interventions, targets and projects to pinpoint its climate finance needs. We also consulted greater than 50 organizations lively in Fiji. The result’s detailed prioritization of climate finance needs across 12 sectors.

Drawing from Fiji’s National Development Plan (NDP), Climate Vulnerability Assessment (CVA), National Adaptation Plan (NAP), Low Emissions Development Strategy (LEDS), Fiji Climate Finance Snapshot, line ministries’ strategic plans, NDC Investment Plans and stakeholder consultations, we then designated three key policy priorities for every sector, in addition to three interventions, targets and/or projects that, if implemented, would help achieve each policy.

The NCFS also includes concept notes for twenty-four urgent mitigation and adaptation projects that could possibly be funded by the Green Climate Fund, the Fijian Ministry of Economy’s Climate Change and International Cooperation Division, or other development partners.


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