UNDP ramps up support to vulnerable Pacific Islands with financial and technical assistance from New Zealand

Creation date: 28 Feb 2017

28 February 2017 – The Government of New Zealand is collaborating with the United Nations Development Programme to design and secure financing from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) for a new generation of climate change adaptation projects for vulnerable Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Pacific.

Small nations in the Pacific are among the most vulnerable in the world to the effects of climate change. The GCF is an opportunity for large-scale financial support to address issues related to climate change that are affecting Pacific communities now, and threaten to affect them in the future. This joint work between the UNDP and New Zealand is a great example of the kind of partnership that is needed to ensure that Pacific SIDS can effectively access GCF funding.

“By making available New Zealand-based engineers and other highly qualified technical specialists on water, flood management and drainage to the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga, the government of New Zealand is providing strong leadership in international partnership and cooperation,” said Yusuke Taishi, Regional Technical Specialist, Climate Change Adaptation at UNDP. “With this support, UNDP has been able to fast track support for Small Island Developing States in protecting their shores from rising sea levels, building ecosystem-based approaches that benefit local communities and local economies, and support a larger holistic approach to tackling the challenges of climate change in the Pacific.”

At COP21 in 2015, Prime Minister John Key announced New Zealand would provide $200 million in climate-related support over four years, most of which would benefit the Pacific.

”New Zealand has contributed NZ$3m (US$2.56 million) of this funding to the Green Climate Fund, but perhaps the greatest impact we are having is through our ongoing engineering technical assistance programme that is helping Pacific countries to develop high-quality GCF proposals. The work we have done with the UNDP in this space has certainly paid dividends for Samoa where we are pleased to have supported their successful bid for a major flood management project that will help protect public and private infrastructure here in Apia,” said David Nicholson, New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa.

Delivering Support in Samoa
While support missions will benefit the roll-out of country projects for financing to the GCF, the example of Samoa, supported by a partnership between UNDP and New Zealand, illustrates the potential for Small Island Developing States to access new financial resources dedicated toward climate change adaptation.

Severe tropical storms hinder the ability of the Samoan government to effectively meet development goals, reduce poverty and build resilience to climate change. In response, the Government of Samoa adopted a programmatic approach to address the issue of climate change induced flooding in Samoa. As part of this programme, the US$65 million GCF-funded Integrated Flood Management to Enhance Climate Resilience of the Vaisigano River Catchment in Samoa project will enable the Government of Samoa to reduce the impact of recurrent flood-related impacts in the Vaisigano river catchment.

“This river flows through the Apia Urban Area (AUA), Samoa’s primary urban economic area,” said Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, Head, Climate Change Adaptation Programming, Global Environmental Finance Unit, UNDP. “Without the support from technical organizations like MWH New Zealand, who is working with the support of the New Zealand Government, and the rapid deployment of engineers and other technical experts on the ground to support and complement the UNDP-led project design team, we would not have been able to develop a proposal as quickly and as comprehensively as we did, with impacts as widespread and long-lasting.”

The project, which was approved by the GCF Board in December 2016, will provide support to approximately 26,528 people in the Vaisigano river catchment. Implementation of activities will commence in mid-2017.

“Project users will benefit from upgraded infrastructure and drainage downstream, integrated planning and capacity strengthening, including planning for flooding caused by extreme weather events, and flood mitigation measures especially river works and ecosystems solutions in the Vaisigano River Catchment,” said Peter White, Principal Engineer at MWH New Zealand.

UNDP Climate Change Adaptation. For UNDP, adaptation to climate change means climate-resilient economic development and sustainable livelihoods, especially for vulnerable populations – the poor, women, and indigenous peoples. UNDP supports these goals by assisting over 80 countries to integrate current and future climate risks and uncertainties into national and sub-national development efforts. UNDP works with governments, the private sector, communities, and other partners to build responsive state institutions and public policies; strengthen public and private sector capacities to manage climate change risks and uncertainties; and formulate, finance and implement climate-resilient initiatives.

MFAT. The New Zealand Aid Programme delivers New Zealand’s official support for developing countries. The purpose of New Zealand’s aid is to develop shared prosperity and stability in the Pacific and beyond, drawing on the best of New Zealand’s knowledge and skills. Part of New Zealand’s GCF technical assistance programme is being channeled through engineering firm MWH New Zealand.

MWH Global. MWH, now part of Stantec. The MWH community, now part of Stantec, unites approximately 22,000 employees working in over 400 locations across six continents. They collaborate across disciplines and industries to bring water and infrastructure projects to life. This work is built on a nearly 200-year history. With a heritage in water, our world’s most precious resource, they safeguard and sustain lives, communities and businesses worldwide.  


For further details:

Greg Benchwick

Communications Specialist

Global Environment Finance Unit

United Nations Development Programme

Email: gregory.benchwick@undp.org

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