By Leanne Jorari – EMTV News, Suva, Fiji
Pacific Finance Ministers headed into their annual Forum Economic Ministers meet (FEMM) in Suva, Fiji, this morning to discuss economic issues shaping the region. Climate financing is top of the agenda, due to the vulnerability of Pacific nations to the effects of climate change.
At last year’s FEMM, the Forum Secretariat proposed a regional fund to assist Pacific governments, businesses and communities in the pacific to support financing for resilience. Key to that is infrastructure investment aimed at reducing the risks and impacts of climate change and natural disasters.
The forum is pitching the Pacific resilience Facility’s Unique focus on disaster preparedness rather than post-disaster relief and recovery, the latter being the longtime trend for island nations.
According to Forum Secretariat, Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor, Papua New Guinea is part of the round of endorsements by finance and economic leaders to set up the facility. This year officials have continued discussions on a funding strategy and governance arrangements.
Linked as the facility to helping the developing Pacific nations deal with the burden of being at the receiving end of global warming caused by the developed nations, the timing of the PRF is not lost on anyone. Papua New Guineans are in the midst of heated debates of their own about the advantages and disadvantages of coal mining. While many are against the idea of coal mining in the country due to high emissions, others have warmed to the idea. Earlier this year then Energy Minister, Sam Basil, in an interview with EMTV; fully supported the proposal of Australian coal company, Mayur Resource. For him, the country needs to find cheaper energy sources for the benefit of the people in rural areas, and if clean coal is an option, it’s an option he wants his government to take.
Given the intention to continue exploring Papua New Guinea’s entry into coal mining despite the contradiction that presents for regional and global support for climate deals and initiatives like the Pacific Resilience Facility, it’s little surprise that Finance Minister, Sam Basil, will not be attending this weeks FEMM.