New York, 15 February 2008: A fund to support Small Island Developing States in responding to the challenges posed by climate change has been launched, with an initial contribution of one million euros by Greece.

The Global Island Green Finance Facility was launched on Wednesday 13 February 2008 at a special meeting, the third in a series, to discuss financing for adaptation to climate change in the Small Island Developing States. It was organized by the United Nations Foundation, the Friends of Climate Change and the Alliance of Small Island States. The Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in New York hosted the meeting.

Announcing the contribution, the Permanent Representative of Greece to the United Nations, Ambassador John Mourikis, said that his country was prepared to contribute to the facility “every year for the next three years.” He encouraged other countries to contribute to the fund, which will be complementary to the Global Environmental Facility and the Adaptation Fund established under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1994.

Ambassador Mourikis said the contribution demonstrated the commitment of Greece, itself a country with about 400 islands, to participating in efforts to mitigate the negative impact of climate change.

Speaking at the meeting, the United Nations Special Advisor on Africa and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, Mr. Cheick Sidi Diarra, said Greece’s contribution could become a model for other regional groups.

“There is an urgent need for mainstreaming adaptation into economic policies,” he said, adding that care should be taken to properly define the role of the fund.

Talking about opportunities in small islands, the Chairman of the Alliance of Small Island States and Permanent Representative of Grenada to the United Nations, Ambassador Angus Friday, called for the creation of strong linkages between United Nations diplomats, partners and capital experts. The use of social networks, such as Facebook, could promote exchange of ideas and experiences among Small Island Developing States, he said.

Ambassador Friday recalled the existence of an on-line financial clearing house in the Caribbean and highlighted the possibility of using text messages and e-mail to share information. He emphasized the need for creating public-private partnerships.

The meeting was attended by members of the Alliance of Small Island Developing States, other United Nations member states, representatives of the private sector, United Nations agencies and international financial institutions.

Dominica, the Maldives and Cape Verde shared their experiences in adapting to climate change and promoting socio-economic development.

Dominica has developed a plan for producing geothermal energy, some of which would be exported to Guadeloupe and Martinique. Estimated to cost 235 million dollars, the project would have an estimated 15 % rate of return.

The Maldives made a presentation on the Safe Islands programme, which aims at relocating communities, elevating islands and protecting costal zones so as to better safeguard the population from climate hazards. The project will cost an estimated 100 million dollars.

Cape Verde, which this year graduated from the group of Least Developed Countries, presented a plan to overcome its structural weaknesses through tourism development and becoming an international financial center.

UN-OHRLLS/02/2008