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A row of country flags on display outdoors with a sign that says "United Nations Climate Change" and "COP28 UAE"
United Arab Emirates

What COP28 Could Mean for Solomon Islands and the Pacific Region

World leaders, business leaders, civil society groups and climate change advocates gather at the 28th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) in Dubai, the largest city in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, where discussions are in full force to find ways for vulnerable countries, like the Solomon Islands, to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.

This year’s climate summit marks the conclusion of the first Global Stock Take (GST), the mechanism that assessed the world’s progress towards fulfilling the 2015 Paris Agreement to increase climate action.

A United Nations report revealed that the world is not on track to limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, putting climate-vulnerable countries in peril.

“It does recognize that countries are developing plans for a net-zero future, and the shift to clean energy is gathering speed,” said the UN. This “makes clear that the transition is nowhere near fast enough yet to limit warming within the current ambitions."

At the opening of COP28 on November 30th, more than 70,000 leaders made a landmark agreement to operationalize the loss and damage fund as agreed at COP27 in Egypt last year.

Solomon Islands and COP28

In Egypt last year, Solomon Islands' delegation told world leaders during an event called "Tok Stori on Pacific as Indigenous guardians of global climate and biodiversity commons," that Solomon Islands cannot wait for another COP.

Solomon Islands has been on a costly road of recovery from disasters and crisis after crisis because of climate change and called on those responsible for climate change to show some urgency to countries badly affected.

A group of Solomon Islands delegates indoors at COP28 standing for a picture
Some members of the Solomon Islands delegation at COP28 / Credit: SIBC.

A day after COP28 agreed to operationalize the loss and damage fund, Solomon Islands made a submission to the UNFCCC Secretariat seeking definition of "climate change finance." This is very important as Solomon Islands is pushing for new and additional sources of finance and seeking this definition could spell out clearly the types of finances separately from overseas development assistance.

Dr. Melchior Mataki, the permanent secretary of the ministry responsible for addressing climate change, said the impacts of climate change are beyond all the development challenges faced by Solomon Islands, which is why it is important that new and additional resources are mobilized.

“To mobilize new and additional resources effectively in this process, it is good to have a definition of climate change finance. This could hold developed countries accountable as to which financial assistance would go towards climate change adaptation, mitigation and loss and damage,” Dr. Mataki said.

Two delegates stand in front of a teal COP28 backdrop for a photo
Pacific Community Deputy Director for Disaster and Community Resilience, Exsley Taloiburi (left) and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, Dr Melchior Mataki (right) / Credit: SIBC.

What else is on the table for Solomon Islands at COP28

Solomon Islands, like any other developing country suffering from the impacts of climate change, has key goals to achieve at the COP level.

This includes operationalization of the loss and damage fund, which COP28 agreed to on day one. This could help Solomon Islands respond and recover from the impacts of climate change.

COP28 also provides the first opportunity for countries to assess progress on increasing climate action under the Paris Agreement through the Global Stock Take (GST). The Solomon Islands is pushing for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Improving access to finance is also one of the key priorities for developing countries such as Solomon Islands at COP28. In this agenda, Solomon Islands is monitoring and negotiating on the commitment by developed countries to mobilize the 100 billion US dollars agreed to in 2009 to assist developing countries in addressing the impacts of climate change.

The Pacific Community Deputy Director for Disaster and Community Resilience, Exsley Taloiburi told SIBC that whatever outcome it may have, Solomon Islands is using COP28 as a key platform and opportunity to call for stronger action and outcomes.

The delegation to COP28 consisted of government officials and climate change advocates from the ministry responsible for climate change, civil society organizations and youth representatives, and others pushing for better outcomes for Solomon Islands at COP28.

This story was produced as part of the 2023 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security. It was first published by Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation on December 2, 2023.

Banner image: Country delegates gather for COP28, a climate change conference taking place between November 30 and December 12 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates / Credit: SIBC.