The recent IPCC report on the physical science basis of climate change could not have been clearer about the need for immediate action to address the crisis. With this report, there has been a heavy focus on the necessity to mitigate the emissions the world pumps into the atmosphere. Equally important, and not to be overlooked, should be the point that the effects of climate change are only going to intensify, and we have to do more to limit the vulnerability of coastal communities to these threats, particularly for those already on the front lines of the crisis.
Through our WWF-Pacific office, WWF recently embarked on a new effort to help communities facing barriers prepare for these new climate threats with a project funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), through its Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), and implemented in partnership with Willis Towers Watson, a global advisory, broking, and solutions company. The project ‘Financial tools for small scale fishers in Melanesia’ will support climate resilience through the creation of new insurance and/or financial products designed to protect coastal communities in Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
The people of these countries and the ecosystems on which they depend are exposed to climate threats and severe storms, yet only a fraction are currently insured against the growing threats of climate change-related ecosystem, human, and economic losses. Efforts under the project’s banner will begin with risk assessments, surveys, and workshops to pinpoint the major climate threats and their short- and long-term effects.
This project seeks to create the type of innovative financial tools we need to see more of as the world comes to grips with the threats of the climate crisis. Through risk-sharing, co-financing, and diversification of income streams, communities can enhance their resilience to the impacts of climate change. Collaboration between communities, as well as public and private institutions in this space, presents an exciting path forward and a space that needs to grow.
In the months ahead, the international community will be setting commitments on collective action to confront climate change and the connected threat of biodiversity loss over the next decade. U.S. leadership, including through enhanced resources, can harness the combined power of the public and private sectors to help protect the most at-risk communities around the world. These combined efforts will be critical to ensuring that those collective commitments reflect the ambition that the science tells us is needed.
We need a renewed commitment from the US and other global leaders to develop and expand support for foreign assistance projects such as these that support developing countries’ efforts to adapt to the climate crisis. COP26 in Glasgow represents a key moment for the US to signal its commitment to replenishing the Least Developed Countries Fund and the Special Climate Change Fund. Without these, the potential opportunities for the GEF Challenge Program for Adaptation Innovation in communities such as these in Melanesia, remain limited.