2023 has arrived in the wake of historic levels of international climate engagement, including the decision at COP27 to establish a fund for Loss and Damage and the COP15 biodiversity pledge of the new Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. This year will revolve around implementation - in turning these ambitions into realities. SIDS leadership and innovations in climate action have made their priorities unavoidable by the rest of the world, which must necessarily be supported by the finance mechanisms and partnerships required to help them leverage their unique opportunities. Another valuable advancement at COP15 was the formation of the SIDS Coalition for Nature, co-led by Cabo Verde, Seychelles, and Samoa will be critical to catalyzing the financial and technical support needed for SIDS to respond to biodiversity targets.
SIDS continue to lead and advance the climate discourse, with several significant decisions expected this year on climate accountability, shaping future agreements, repercussions, and SIDS exposure. For example, Vanuatu, St. Lucia, and Comoros were all recognized by UN’s inaugural World Restoration Flagship initiatives for the nature-based revival of their coastal and inland ecosystems. SIDS have proven their proactive role on the international stage by setting the agenda for climate accountability by championing international legal guidelines, such as the petitioning for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to be applied to the effects of climate change. Integrating the knowledge and leadership of SIDS will also be essential following the results of the two-year stocktaking review at the end of this year on progress towards the Paris Climate Agreement.
Throughout 2022 the calls to action in SIDS have accelerated global action for our climate and oceans, galvanizing investment and engagement, commitments to reduce emissions, and a focus on biodiversity preservation. However, the key challenge of mobilizing funding continues. It is predicted that preserving global ocean health requires $175 billion annually in additional financing. Climate action in SIDS is persistently intertwined with underfinancing and debt, limiting their sustainable recovery from climate and Covid-19. To overcome this, SIDS' are calling for reforms of the international financial architecture, requesting a fair, transparent, and multilateral framework for debt crisis resolution. However, it is estimated that $1 trillion per year of financing is necessary for LDCs by 2030 to recover and adapt from climate change, substantiating the need for private sector engagement. This interconnectedness between the economy and sustainability reinforces the inseparability of private public partnerships in climate action for mobilizing funding and implementing sustainable systems. These mechanisms are starting to mature, with growing private interests and enabling legislation to provide a future financial vehicle for SIDS’ sustainable transformation.
Lost development gains, weakened national energy, food, and water security, pressure on population living costs, and acceleration of non-renewable energy consumption are all consequences of the global energy crisis that have brought the need for an equitable energy transition to the forefront in SIDS. This makes 2023 a critical year for transitioning from energy promises to implementation. SIDS have pledged to generate 10 gigatons of renewable energy by 2030. To date, they have already generated 7 gigatons. To take advantage of the energy revolution and their expansive EEZs, many SIDS are looking to capitalize on the expanding blue economy by utilizing marine-based renewables such as wave energy, floating solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays, high-capacity offshore wind turbines, and geothermal. In 2023, the Solomon Islands will construct a geothermal energy plant. By supplying energy to other offshore blue economy businesses like aquaculture, desalination, and cooling, a renewable economy can improve the livelihoods of SIDS and increase their socioeconomic options by eliminating the need to import costly fossil fuel and allowing for the export of excess energy production through Bankable Purchase Power Agreements. Energy transition in SIDS cannot be financed by states alone, highlighting the continued significance of maintaining genuine and long-lasting strategic partnerships that facilitate access to capital, technology, and intellectual property in order to fully realize transformation as a climate and energy solution.
Read the full 2023 and Beyond SIDS Bulletin.
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