Promoting action to build resilient and sustainable island communities

GLISPA Interview with Francesco La Camera, Director General for Sustainable Development, Energy and Climate at the Italian Ministry of Environment, Land & Sea...

Ronny Jumeau and Francesco La Camera COP24 1

Question 1: On coooperation between the Italian Ministry of the Environment islands including GLISPA?

The Italian Ministry for the Environment is currently involved in almost 40 programs on climate change, adaptation and mitigation, with the world’s most vulnerable countries, predominantly represented by SIDS.

With the Pacific Island States, we have created a Partnership that is considered as a model you can learn from as it is structured with the capacities of the SIDS in mind - according to what the beneficiary countries said at the G7 in Halifax to the last 73 UNGA.

In ten years, we have approved 40 projects for a total amount of US$17 million. This has yielded concrete results: Solar systems installed in 20 schools and over 100 homes, 12 fish processing and conservation centers and another 11 are being implemented, and almost 200 water storage tanks.

Emissions avoided has been more than a thousand tons of CO2 emissions per year, considering the annual energy consumption and the use of more than one energy source apart from diesel, the most widely used source in PSIDS.

The Marine Protected Areas implemented cover about 2 millions square kilometres characterized by a sustainable management of the marine resources according to conservation approaches, communities participation, marine spatial planning and ecosystem-based measures.

Convinced of the model effectiveness and replicability Italy has launched a similar initiative in the Caribbean region using the same founding principles – mutual trust, ownership, transparency, accountability, equality among partners and common goals and objectives, and has established bilateral partnerships with SIDS of the Africa and Indian Ocean (AIS) region on the same basis.
With the Caricom countries, since 2015, we adopted 21 projects, mainly addressed to renewable energy, sustainable mobility and water desalination, for a total Budget of more then 15M USD.

Indeed, our commitment to building resilience has been expressed by an early warning system project, that we have just started to implement in St Lucia (Budget 2.170.000 Euro). The big challenge that we want to face with this Project is to provide the Island with all the tools (capacity building) needed to help them use the system by themself.

I also believe in the importance of multilateral processes. In this way, the Italian Ministry for the Environment has always been in on the side of SIDS in the climate change negotiation, as well as in considering the SAMOA Pathway review to be a crucial step in the sustainable development process, and in this way supported the SIDS Focal Points meeting. Indeed, I was honored to personally attended the latest interregional meeting in Samoa, last November.

In the same spirit, we have supported the AOSIS presidency of both Maldives and now of Belize, with three projects on Capacity Building and Technical Support.
To this end, we will continue to support strategic actions and sectors, also taking into account the need for implementing all the sustainable development priorities, and paving the way for enhanced regional and sub-regional cooperation and long-term multi stakeholders investments.

Question 2: What are the coming issues and priorities that you see as relevant to islands and GLISPA?

I wish to emphasize three basic findings that are similar to the lessons I have learnt so far. First, the capacity challenges that SIDS are facing must be addressed. I am convinced that the participatory processes inherent in the success of a partnership would be greatly enhanced by sustained capacity building auxiliary initiatives, well anchored into each project activities and objectives. Second, the engagement of the private sector, as both stakeholders and investors, is still far from being accomplished. The private sector’s capacity for innovation and problem solving, as well as its ability to mobilize capital could be extraordinary assets for any Partnership, and we should consider giving serious thought to strategies for overcoming the natural barrier that exists between the private and public discourse. Finally, and this issue overlaps with what elaborated in the previous point, every Partnership must expand the gamut of funding sources dedicated to its goals, to avoid funding fatigue from its public donor partners and guarantee steady flow of resources for relatively long periods of time.

At the same time, I think SIDS need to experiment with diversification of funding and Partners to better respond to the new emerging priorities arising from major milestones of the implementation of Agenda 2030, such as the ongoing review of the Samoa Pathway, the 2020 targets of the Agenda 2030 - in particular target 14.5 - the implementation of the Paris Agreement, and the transition to renewable energy.