GCCA regional workshop, policy dialogue and high-level conference in Port Vila, Vanuatu

Over 50 people, representing 15 countries and territories, 4 regional organisations, 4 EU Delegations and 2 development partners, attended the GCCA’s first regional workshop on ‘mainstreaming climate change in national development planning and budgeting’, which was organised for Pacific countries and territories in Port Vila, Vanuatu from 28 February to 2 March 2011. Participants included senior government officials involved in climate change coordination and in development planning/budgeting from the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, French Polynesia and New Caledonia. Delegates of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the University of the South Pacific also attended the event, alongside representatives of EU Delegations to the Pacific (based in Fiji), Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu, and also of the EC representation in New Caledonia, the British High Commission in Suva and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand. Given the high number of participants, they were split into two groups.

The concept of mainstreaming climate change in national development policies and strategies was found very relevant; so too was the need for closer cooperation between officials involved in planning and resource allocation, and those in charge of managing the response to climate change. It was frequently acknowledged that there were limited opportunities for planning/financial staff to interact with staff in charge of climate change. The opportunity for exchanges with regional organisations was also highly appreciated. The ‘message to the donor community’ that was most frequently and forcefully conveyed is that access to finance in support of climate change adaptation and mitigation is both essential and extremely difficult. Many participants felt at the same time overwhelmed by the number of possible sources of external financing, and frustrated by the difficulty and slowness of accessing any funds.

In both groups, three presentations were delivered by speakers from the region – including an unplanned one on ‘Papua New Guinea’s progress towards climate compatible development’, in which the presented topics were very well related to workshop concepts such as vulnerability and adaptation assessment, and the use of climate change scenarios to support economic analysis and prioritisation of possible adaptation measures. This spontaneous intervention by a workshop participant was much appreciated; it revealed the interest of participants in this type of contribution, which can enhance the knowledge-sharing dimension of the workshop while providing diversity in the style of presentations. This led to a decision to actively promote the inclusion of a few such ‘participant-driven’ presentations in future workshops. Other lessons were also learned from this workshop (the first of its kind in a series of planned regional workshops), and participants’ feedback was used to improve the content of training materials and the organisation of subsequent workshops.

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The three-day workshop was followed by a policy dialogue day, on 3 March 2012, during which discussions focused on two topics, namely ‘aid effectiveness and climate change in the Pacific’ and ‘climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in the Pacific’. Outcomes of these dialogues fed into the Pacific Region Ministerial Conference held on the next day. This high-level conference moved forward the dialogue and debate. It provided an opportunity for Pacific countries, territories and regional organisations and EU partners to focus on practical elements of the implementation of the Joint Pacific-EU Initiative on climate change, formalised by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the EC through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in Strasbourg in December 2010. The conference confirmed the need to take the Joint Initiative further through a Plan of Action to be finalised in a consultative manner and subsequently endorsed at ministerial level.