Pacific Island Heads of Government including Australia and New Zealand will be in the Cook Islands, attending the 52nd Pacific Islands Forum Leader’s Meeting, scheduled for next week.
Pacific Islands Forum Secretary-General Henry Puna outlined that leaders will be discussing various economic challenges and opportunities including concerns about correspondent banking relationships, climate finance strategies, disaster risk financing, the Pacific Resilience Facility, as well as labour mobility schemes.
Speaking to FijiLive after a recent Forum Economic Ministers Meeting in Suva, Puna said something that the leaders will be looking at the 52 PIFLM is the need to having a correspondent banking relationships in the Pacific region, as some banks are de-risking their involvement in certain countries.
Cook Islands Prime Minister and PIFLM Chair Mark Brown said given the importance of Correspondent banking relationships which are crucial for financial structures and enabling international transfers, trade, and remittances, they have welcomed Australia and New Zealand’s input to addressing some of these concerns.
Brown said the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat has already been task to work with the World Bank to prioritise recommendations and progress the implementation of regional recommendations with the support of relevant development, but also in consultation with members through to the next economic ministers meeting.
Also, the Secretary-General said another aspect that leaders are looking at is climate finance – With the need for increased climate action and a coordinated approach to accessing climate funds.
Puna said a regional climate finance roadmap is being developed to pool different financing sources for climate initiatives.
For disaster risk financing, a Pacific Regional disaster risk financing roadmap and guidelines were approved. Member countries are encouraged to develop national strategies with the help of a technical working group.
A notable achievement was the approval of the redesigned Pacific Resilience Facility (PRF).
This according to Puna was first proposed six years ago, the PRF aimed to attract funding for Pacific adaptation measures.
“Pacific countries have for a number of years voiced their concerns and the difficulty in accessing climate finance. So what we have done over the last few years, in particular the last year 18 months, is redesigned this proposal for a Pacific resilience facility that will be targeted to development partners to put their funds into and used for Pacific adaptation measures, specifically for Pacific countries.”
“We see this as one way to enable funds to be freed up quicker to our members in the Pacific countries to address climate and resilience initiatives, which in many cases can be quite small scale and thereby make it difficult to fund when we do go through formal channels. So we’re very pleased that our membership has approved the implementation of the redesign of the Pacific Resilience Fund.”
This facility will go for formal approval at the Pacific Islands Forum Leader’s Meeting, next week.
Puna said another aspect is the Pacific Investment Fund. The PIF comprises sovereign wealth funds, looking at investing over $90 billion in viable infrastructure projects in Pacific Island countries.
“Of course, these particular funds would need to be effective for their members would need to attract a return, so there will be specific types of investment that would suit this particular investment plan, particularly those that do have a revenue stream attached to them.”
“… We support the investment fund co-investment platform to identify commercially viable infrastructure projects for investment by our prominent sovereign wealth and super funds in the Pacific countries.”
The meeting begins on Monday.