Maldives Environment Minister Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan has called on the global community to “operationalise” the Paris Agreement and to make climate adaptation and mitigation funds available without delay.
He raised the issue at the three-day Asia-Pacific Regional High-Level Forum on Green Economy in Bangkok.
The conference brought together government representatives, private sector parties and NGOs from the region to discuss policies, private-public partnerships and regional cooperation in building a green economy.
On Tuesday, Dr Hussain, who headed the Maldivian delegation in Bangkok, delivered a keynote speech at a session discussing regional cooperation for climate action.
“Climate change is an undeniable reality today. It is indeed an unprecedented global challenge. The global community has never faced anything like this before,” he said.
“There is no doubt that this requires an unprecedented response that harnesses the collective will, innovation and resources of humanity. We, the people who call this planet home have to save this planet for future generations and our children’s children.
“We have a small window of opportunity to turn these words into action. We have to do this, we have no other choice.
“The framework offered by the Paris agreement must urgently be operationalised. That’s the only way we can deal with this climate catastrophe.”
He added that regional collaboration is important to ensure coherence of climate action at the national level and that financial goals must be made consistent with the global climate goals of the Paris agreement – an international treaty that seeks to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases that was signed in 2016.
In his speech, Dr Hussain highlighted the need to move beyond borders to tackle the issue, creating “tailor-made” green solutions for countries from diverse backgrounds.
“Climate action cannot be just limited to [the] national level. The phenomenon we are dealing with does not recognise national borders. Borders are just lines on a map. It’s impact extends beyond borders. Therefore our response to this challenge must move beyond borders.”
Government policies and incentives must encourage the private sector to fully engage in fighting climate change and “spur new climate actions in areas of untapped mitigation and adaptation potential”, he added.
The forum was organised by the World Green Economy Organisation, UNFCCC, UNOSSC, UNESCAP, The Asia Foundation and the International Solar Alliance.
Representatives from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the UNFCCC faced criticism over challenges faced by developing nations to access green funds.
The conference sessions concluded on Tuesday afternoon with closing remarks including a joint draft statement by the high-level delegates. (It was followed by a training course for participants on Tuesday evening and Wednesday).
Dr Hussain said that small island states such as the Maldives need funds to be made available “without delay” to carry out adaptation and mitigation measures.
“I think we should recognise that very little money is actually effectively available, especially for developing countries and small island developing countries,” he said, commenting on the joint statement.
“The mechanism to access finance is very difficult. We really are wasting time. We have to wait for years to get these promised funds. Those funds need to be available yesterday, because we really can’t do anything with promised funds.”
In late 2015, GCF approved US$23.6 million for a five-year adaptation project to ensure the delivery of safe freshwater to 105,000 people in the outer islands of the Maldives.
It is the biggest project funded with climate adaptation funds in Maldives so far. According to the GCF website, 64 percent of the funds has since been disbursed.
About half of the islands in Maldives report water shortages during the annual dry season, forcing the central government to ship water to desperate islanders.