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Photo by: Thomas Trutschel-photothek.net

Global warming and the resulting rise in sea level are threatening the very existence of small island states. For them, the implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement is a matter of survival – especially as regards the main goal of keeping the increase in global temperatures to well below 2°C, and if possible to 1.5°C.

Against this background, supporting Small Island Developing States (SIDS) is a top priority for German development cooperation.

SIDS are extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change – a prime example being the Pacific island states with their limited surface area and low-lying atolls, many of which are less than three meters above sea level. Changes in the rainy seasons, the increasing number of droughts and the growing intensity of cyclones are likely to have catastrophic effects on the key economic sectors of these states – for example, agriculture, fishing and tourism.

Apart from the changing climate and its related impacts, the Pacific island states have always been at risk of being adversely affected by the periodic “El Niño” phenomenon. Many of these states lack the capacity and the resources to address the sum of all these challenges adequately.

“The effects of climate change are felt most strongly by people in developing countries. They are the ones who are hardest hit by events such as flood disasters, droughts and water shortages. For small island states in the Pacific, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean, it is quite literally a question of survival,” – Dr. Gerd Müller, German Development Minister.


Dr. Gerd Müller, Germany's Development Minister

The BMZ is supporting the Pacific island states through its programme “Coping with Climate Change in the Pacific Island Region” in partnership with the Pacific Community. Since 2009, German experts have been successfully providing advice to regional organizations and 15 Pacific island states, including Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Salomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The main topics covered are climate change adaptation, REDD+ (mitigation of emissions from deforestation and damage to forests), climate and education, renewable energies, and climate and tourism. The BMZ is also engaged in projects focusing on risk assessment and management.

The aim is to increase the resilience of small island developing states to climate-induced loss and damage by applying comprehensive climate-risk management practices, especially in the pilot region of the Pacific.

Furthermore, the BMZ is supporting the InsuResilience Initiative for climate risk insurance. The aim of the initiative is to help people in developing countries who are poor and vulnerable to extreme weather events gain access to direct and indirect insurance against climate risks. The goal is to increase the number of insured people by 400 million between now and 2020.
Geographically, the focus of the initiative is on the countries in Africa, the Caribbean, Central America and the Pacific region that are most affected by climate change.

Geographically, the focus of the initiative is on the countries in Africa, the Caribbean, Central America and the Pacific region that are most affected by climate change.

 “It is important to hold negotiations on climate targets, but we also need practical answers to climate change. Climate risk insurance is an effective way of providing quick and practical assistance on the ground to people in difficult situations," – Dr. Gerd Müller, German Development Minister.

Against the backdrop of an increasing number of extreme weather events and extreme climatic shifts, mechanisms to help transfer risk have become a central tool to support adaptation to climate change, especially in vulnerable countries. The BMZ is fostering such mechanisms, inter alia by supporting the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative (PCRAFI). For this purpose the BMZ has already provided EUR 15 million to the World Bank.

An especially effective instrument to support small island states’ efforts to adapt to climate change is regional financing mechanisms. They allow for transaction costs to be decreased, synergies to be identified and regional cooperation to be strengthened.

As the BMZ seeks to further promote the use of regional financing mechanisms, it has tasked its Climate Finance Readiness Programme (CF Ready) with identifying opportunities to apply such approaches in SIDS. CF Ready aims to assist countries in establishing technical and personnel capacities, so they can apply for and manage international funding, for example from the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

As the Pacific region is a focus region of the Green Climate Fund, readiness topics are of particular importance. In the Caribbean, CF Ready is helping to provide information and awareness-raising measures, as well as capacity-building on climate financing, for example, in cooperation with the Caribbean Development Bank.  


Another critical aspect in terms of the economic and social development of the Pacific and Caribbean island states is the need for a sustainable energy supply with a focus on making more intensive use of renewable energies.

Due to their geographical isolation, SIDS are largely dependent on expensive imports of fossil fuels. The BMZ is keen to help SIDS move away from this dependency and towards the wide-spread use of renewable energies and greater energy efficiency.

To this end, the BMZ contributes to relevant programmes, for example, those implemented by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The GEF improves policy frameworks and encourages investments in renewable energies and greater energy efficiency. The BMZ is engaged in a regional programme to support renewable energies and energy efficiency in the Caribbean.

"The historic Paris Climate Agreement establishes a clearly defined pathway. Together with Agenda 2030, the two agreements guide our endeavours to overcome poverty and hunger while reconfiguring economies and societies in a manner that mitigates climate change and boosts prosperity,” says Gerd Müller.


In total, Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development is supporting 50 projects in small island developing states in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific region. The BMZ cooperates with regional partners, like the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the African Union. The focus of the projects is mainly on environmental policy, and on the protection and sustainable use of natural resources.

For further information on climate-related activities of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development please visit the BMZ website or the BMZ special web page on climate issues

Note: This article was provided by the BMZ

Photos: Photothek.net/Ute Grabowsky, Thomas Koehler and Thomas Trutschel

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