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Fiji’s U.N. Ambassador Satyendra Prasad said COVID-19 risked worsening the already high debt burden of small island nations, as tourism dived.
“The importance of the (GCF) … in accelerating transformative climate action in this present decade cannot be understated,” he added.
He told the Thomson Reuters Foundation island nations were struggling to access other sources of finance and urged the GCF to boost aid to help them prepare project proposals and to release funding for approved projects faster.
The Alliance of Small Island States said its members represented less than 10% of total funding requests.
The GCF this week approved three new projects for island nations, including strengthening buildings to withstand hurricanes in Antigua and Barbuda, and installing solar power systems on farmland on Fiji’s Ovalau island.
It also gave the green light to payments rewarding reductions in deforestation in Colombia and Indonesia between 2014 and 2016.
But more than 80 green groups issued an open letter ahead of the meeting opposing such funding.
They said deforestation had since spiked and countries should not be rewarded for “paper reductions” in carbon emissions calculated from favorable baselines.
Liane Schalatek, who leads climate finance work for the Heinrich Böll Foundation North America, said the fund should take a hard look at whether the forest emission reductions it is paying for would be permanent.