APIA, Samoa, September 2, 2014 – The World Bank Group has announced that it will increase its support for disaster and climate resilient development in small island developing states from US$145 million per year to about US$190 million and work with partners towards a Small Island States Resilience Initiative.
The initiative is designed to serve the unique needs of small islands with tailored technical expertise and funding to build resilience and deal with the impacts of climate change. It builds on the World Bank Group’s existing small islands program, and is about finding ways to cut through the red tape.
Making the announcement in Apia today, Rachel Kyte, World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, said, “As some of the most threatened people and places on the planet, small island nations are stepping up their efforts to deal with climate change. This Initiative is designed to address the specific needs of small islands and make it easier, faster, and simpler to access funding to deal with resilience and climate change.”
The Small Island States Resilience Initiative is a response to requests of island leaders who have asked the international community for increased and improved assistance in the face of mounting disasters and climate change – which stifle growth prospects and can sometimes threaten their very existence.
Two thirds of the countries with the highest disaster losses relative to GDP are small island states – with average annual losses between 1 and 9 percent of GDP. These averages hide extremes – sometimes a single disaster can overwhelm an island’s entire economy. Losses of this magnitude are an enormous burden on a country’s budget and fiscal position, with serious consequences for growth and development prospects.
In addition, island nations often have to deal with fragmented donor support that creates an unnecessary burden on government capacity. Samoa, for example, is currently managing 14 different projects on climate and disaster resilience. The Solomon Islands is managing 22.
“Our hope is that this Initiative will help pool donor resources available now, reduce transaction costs, allow for economies of scale across countries, and, above all, lay the ground work for direct country access to global climate funds,” said Kyte.
The announcement was made during the UN Conference on Small Island Developing States, taking place in Apia, Samoa, from September 1-4, 2014.