Statement delivered by H.E. Biman Prasad, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics, Fiji
V20 MINISTERIAL DIALOGUE X
16 April 2023
H.E. Biman Prasad, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics, Fiji (Pre-recorded Intervention)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Bula Vinaka and good morning. It gives me great pleasure to address this ministerial dialogue of finance ministers. It is rather unfortunate that I am not there physically as I have had to return to the capital for an important economic summit. As fiscal managers, we know all too well the risks climate change poses to our national economies and on the lives of our people and livelihoods.
Without careful management, it is likely that the impacts of climate-induced disasters will be felt most strongly by the poorest, most marginalized and most remote communities, reinforcing existing vulnerabilities that exist in our economies.
Fiji is on the frontlines of climate change, having experienced back-to-back tropical cyclones, flooding, slow onset events like sea level rise. As an island nation, we are a negligible contributor of the climate warming greenhouse gasses but possesses one of the finest set of climate change policies of mitigation, adaptation, climate change mobility, including on finance for climate action.
We also have a climate change act that has been ratified by parliament that gives effect to the various climate policies. The reality however is that these policy aspirations get derailed when we are battered by storm after storm, undergo a fiscal squeeze, and start piling debt as we did after the category 5 cyclone in 2016. We left the fiscal space to adequately respond to disasters and for this reason we welcome the G7-V20-led Global Shield that aims to deploy anticipatory finance in the form of trigger-based and pre-arranged finance.
This is a need in the Pacific region, and we are glad that the Pacific is a pathfinder region under the global initiative. We need more resources under the Global Shield to scale up anticipatory finance initiatives.
We stand ready to deepen our collaboration with stakeholders to craft solutions to sustain protection, one that will increase protection for poor and vulnerable people by substantially enhancing pre-arranged finance, insurance, and social protection mechanisms against disasters and slow onset events. Frequent and more intense disasters will no doubt lead us into a situation of debt space.
While we are ready to explore options such as debt-for-climate swaps, we cannot ignore the fact that climate change adaptation is an absolute must to build resilience of our economic systems. Finance, especially ground-based resources that can be readily accessed by island and atoll states in the Pacific, will propel us forward in the climate fight and I want to appeal to the countries of the Global North to double the commitment of finance for adaptation sooner rather than later.
Finally, we recognize the importance of a global financial architecture that delivers for the poor and lend our full support to the Accra-Marrakech Agenda.