The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr Seetanah Lutchmeenaraidoo, inaugurated this morning the second regional Steering Committee of the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub (CFAH/Hub) at Le Labourdonnais Hotel, Caudan Waterfront, in Port Louis.
The Committee has the important role of providing strategic and policy guidance to the operations of the Hub, mainly, at a time when climate change is becoming a major threat to human lives and in some cases to the very existence of States. Several key stakeholders including the British High Commissioner to Mauritius, Mr Keith Allan; the Australian High Commissioner, Ms Jenny Dee; as well as the General Manager, CFAH, and the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, were present at the event.
In his opening remarks, Minister Lutchmeenaraidoo pointed out that the topic of climate change is a very serious issue and it is now decades since the planet has been getting signs of disruption at various levels which can endanger life on Earth.
We are presently in a situation of emergency and the reality is that climate change is bringing havoc when it comes to production such as in the Caribbean countries which are producing banana for instance, he said. Climate change has thus reduced the production per acre in those countries and has affected the livelihood of those working for and depending on this production, he pointed out.
The Minister cautioned that climate change will bring havoc to the planet if nothing is done and the Indian Ocean region is suffering more and more from its effects. He further recalled that Mauritius is one of the rare countries which has the most beautiful beaches in the world but now the beaches are being affected by erosion and this will consequently have an impact on the tourism industry.
On that score Mr Lutchmeenaraidoo called for the need to stay focused as the issue is so colossal and the number of institutions supporting climate change issues being set are so many that risks exist that the Hub may become diluted when it comes to implementing measures which are urgent. Therefore, being result-oriented is crucial, he said. Each country is living climate change in its own way and consequently the Hub must be in a position to intervene following the list of priorities being defined by each country, he added.
For her part, High Commissioner Dee, announced that Australia will provide at least 1 billion AUD to help build climate change resilience and reduce emissions over the next five years. She also spoke of her country's strong commitment to the Paris Agreement and in helping developing countries implement the Agreement. Australia believes that the Commonwealth has an important role to play in continuing to advocate climate vulnerable States, she added.
In his statement, High Commissioner Allan lauded the fact that much progress has been achieved since the establishment of the CFAH and reiterated the UK's support with regard to the Hub's work. The UK is, as is Australia and Mauritius, one of the significant contributors to the Hub and we do not do this through direct financial support as such but rather contribute through the Commonwealth Secretariat budget programme, he indicated.
For his part, the chair of the Steering Committee, Mr V.K. Daby, also Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, recalled that in just over a year of operations, the Hub has established itself as an efficient entity in providing technical support and in building capacity of countries to develop projects in line with international climate financed principles. The deployment of National Advisors in seven countries has been accomplished within the very first year of operation of the Hub and knowledge management operations are on track, he indicated.
The Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub aims to unlock climate finance for the climatically most vulnerable States by adding critical strategic capacity at national and regional levels. The Hub is the Commonwealth's response to the ongoing and future threats of climate change to its member countries.
The central Hub, based in the Republic of Mauritius, receives and manages requests for capacity and technical assistance to secure climate finance. It executes these through a network of long-term national and regional advisers. Linked to these advisers is access to: a Knowledge Network and a Technical Support Mechanism to enable peer-to-peer exchanges and consultancies.