30th August 2013 – European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard will represent the European Union in the annual Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) meeting in Majuro, Marshall Islands, on 3-5 September. This year’s meeting focuses on the Pacific region’s response to climate change. She will also visit Manila for talks with Philippines government representatives and the Asian Development Bank on 6 September.
Commissioner Hedegaard said: “It is my ambition to make the European Union and the Pacific region partners in advancing the global climate change agenda. The Pacific region can count on Europe’s climate cooperation and ambition. We count on the Pacific region to help us bringing all other major economies on board of an ambitious future climate regime to be finalized in 2015. There is no time to lose if we want to avoid that devastating climate-driven disasters become the new normal”
Pacific Islands Forum (PIF)
The PIF, founded in 1971, is the Pacific region’s major political and economic policy institution. Its formal mission is to strengthen regional cooperation and integration, and it also acts as an inter-governmental body. PIF comprises 16 member states: 14 Pacific Island Countries, plus Australia and New Zealand.
This year’s Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) meeting has the title ‘Marshalling the Pacific Response to the Climate Challenge.’
As host nation, the Marshall Islands wants the meeting to launch a ‘Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership’ aimed at giving new momentum to the region’s fight against climate change. Pacific leaders have identified climate change as the single greatest threat to the region. Low-lying Pacific islands are particularly vulnerable to sea level rise caused by climate change. In addition, this spring the Marshall Islands declared a state of disaster in its northern islands due to the effects of drought blamed on climate change.
As well as taking part in the formal meeting of the PIF, Commissioner Hedegaard will meet bilaterally with several Pacific island leaders. These meetings will focus on the effects of climate change in the region as well as on progress in international negotiations towards finalising a new international climate agreement in 2015 and stepping up global climate action before 2020.
The Philippines is a founder member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In the international climate negotiations it belongs to the group of Like Minded Developing Countries.
In Manila Commissioner Hedegaard’s programme will include meetings with President Benigno Aquino, with representatives of the Philippines Climate Change Commission, and with the management of the Asian Development Bank. She will also have a lunch meeting with representatives of Philippine civil society.
The Philippines is especially vulnerable to more severe and frequent extreme weather – the World Bank has warned how climate change is becoming a brake on development and an obstacle to eradicating poverty around the globe. Its recent report Getting a grip on climate change in the Philippines points out that the country is the third most vulnerable nation on Earth to weather-related extreme events and sea level rise.
EU support for the Pacific region
The EU and its Member States are the largest donor worldwide and the second in the Pacific region, after Australia. EU development cooperation with Pacific ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States) countries and OCTs (overseas countries and territories) managed by the Commission is estimated at €750 million for 2008-2013. EU aid is funding bilateral assistance programmes as well as regional programmes managed by Pacific Regional Organisations.
The EU and Pacific region have a longstanding partnership and shared interest when it comes to climate change, ocean protection and other global issues. Cooperation on climate change is at the core of EU-Pacific partnership. Since the EU and the PIF adopted a Joint Declaration on Climate Change in 2008, EU-Pacific cooperation on climate change has increased substantially, both politically and financially. The renewed EU-Pacific development Partnership, set out last year by the Commission and the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, provides the framework for advancing cooperation and coordination in the fight against climate change.
In addition to resources for development and climate change initially allocated to the Pacific ACP countries for the period 2008-2013, the EU has made available a financial package of €110 million in further climate change related resources committed by the Commission since 2008. All small island developing states in the Pacific are benefiting from financial and technical support from the EU’s Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) initiative, either directly through country programmes or indirectly through its Pacific regional programmes.
EU support for Asia
The EU supports climate action by Asian countries, including the Philippines, through several different channels. These include the European Commission’s Asia Investment Facility, which already has some €3 billion worth of climate friendly projects in the pipeline and will be significantly expanded over the next seven years; contributions to the Asian Development Bank; support for ASEAN, where the EU will build on experience to date in developing its new regional programme for 2014-2020; and the SWITCH-Asia programme to support sustainable production and consumption in the region.
Source: European Commission, press release, 30/08/2013