The National Environment Fund (NEF) held a roundtable yesterday with development partners, donor countries and the private sector at the Hennessy Park Hotel in Ebène, with the objective of identifying potential sources of international and private funding for key environmental projects, programmes and schemes in Mauritius. The event also aims at having a better understanding of the available funding envelopes and mechanisms to access the latter.
The Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity, and Environment and Sustainable Development, Mr Etienne Sinatambou, the Head of Delegation of the European Union (EU) delegation to Mauritius, Ambassador Ms Marjaana Sall, the General Manager of the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub, Mr B. Anwar, as well as the Director of the Agence Française de Developpement, Mr A.Pouillès-Duplaix, participated in the roundtable.
In his address, Minister Sinatambou underpinned the relentless efforts of the Mauritian Government through targeted actions in the form of projects and key measures to improve the country's resilience to natural disasters. This, he said, is reflected in the World Risk Report 2018, where Mauritius' standing has improved from being ranked 13th to be placed in the 16th position with the highest disaster risk, while the country's ranking has shifted from the 7th position to the 10th position under the country most exposed to natural hazards category.
The Minister reiterated the determination and commitment of Government to formulate a strategy to address environmental challenges in the advent of climate change. He expressed conviction that the authorities are doing their best in terms of providing the appropriate structure and implementing measures in view of securing sustainable development to protect and enhance the environment.
On that score, Mr Sinatambou recalled that a sum of Rs 2 billion has been earmarked in the 2018-2019 Budget to revamp the NEF. He therefore enumerated some key measures which include: the reviewing of the National Disaster Scheme in 2015 to trigger relevant protocols before, during and after disasters; the introduction of the National Disaster And Risk Reduction And Management Act in 2016 to set up structures when there are disasters; and, the Land Drainage Authority Act to coordinate drain works by authorities in 2016.
According to him, despite having attained the status of an upper middle-income economy, Mauritius still needs the collaboration as well as technical and financial assistance of development partners and donor countries to help advance its agenda to attain its Nationally Determined Contributions and COP21 pledge. With an annual GDP of USD 13 billion, Mauritius cannot afford mitigation measures that will cost around USD 1.5 billion along with adaptation measures that will require some USD 4 billion, stated the Minister.
Moreover, Mr Sinatambou indicated that some fifty Governmental projects geared towards tackling the challenges of climate change will also require external funding to be transformed into actions. Thus, the Minister appealed to stakeholders to support Mauritius in its endeavour to be a role model as regards its climate change strategy despite being geographically limited.
As for the Head of the EU Delegation, she underlined EU's strong determination to fulfil its climate change objectives and to help developing countries to translate their international commitment into actions. Together with its Member States and the European Investment Bank, EU is the world's largest climate finance donor, she emphasised.
In addition, Ms Sall underlined that climate actions are a crucial component of EU-Mauritius partnership and there is a continuous dialogue between the two parties to accelerate climate change-related actions in Mauritius, as evidenced in the High Policy Dialogue on Climate Change held in December 2018.
The Ambassador reiterated EU's continued support to back up local efforts to attain the Sustainable Development Goals while recalling that EU continues to provide extensive financial and technical assistance to Mauritius to fulfil its climate change objectives and that some twenty climate projects are being funded by EU.