As prepared for delivery.
I am pleased to participate in this side-event that aims to promote island and community resilience. This topic is important because climate change continues to pose an existential threat to humanity and local communities are on the front lines of this challenge due to their dependency on ecosystem services and climate-sensitive resources for their livelihoods.
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and their people are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events and the adverse impacts of climate change. For example, last year, in 2016, the Pacific region faced a total of 22 storms and 13 hurricanes, which was ranked as the fourth worst season since reliable records began in 1949. These events disproportionally impact the most vulnerable segments of society, including women, youth, indigenous peoples, and persons with disabilities.
Community-based solutions, nested on specific cultural, social and environmental contexts are critical in reaching these groups to address climate change and enhance resilience. Actions at the local level also play an integral part, taken together with action by government, private sector and other stakeholders, in helping to advance national development objectives in support of implementation of international frameworks such as the SAMOA Pathway, Agenda 2030, and the Paris Agreement.
In response to identified needs, and as part of our commitment to support SIDS’ implementation of these global agreements, UNDP has been providing critical support to SIDS to enhance their resilience to the changing climate and reduce disaster risk. UNDP has supported and developed an extensive project portfolio in the SIDS, and with our presence in the Caribbean, Pacific, and around the world, we see first-hand the commitment of SIDS leaders to tackling climate change at the national and sub-national levels. Overall, UNDP has supported over $300 million worth of programs and projects in the SIDS on climate change and the environment, including many GEF-funded projects and two new Green Climate Fund projects in the Maldives and Tuvalu.
Among those programs, the GEF Small Grants Programme has been a flagship programme of UNDP that has been closely aligned with, and addresses needs of the SIDS at the local level. Over its 25 years history, the Small Grants Programme has supported over 5,000 community-led climate change projects in 125 countries. In addition, the Small Grants Programme has also supported 142 projects that are specifically targeted towards community-based adaptation actions in 37 SIDS. These projects have enhanced water security, promoted sustainable land management, increased agriculture productivity, and improved coastal management.
In this context, I would like to particularly acknowledge the support of the Government of Australia in supporting community-based adaptation initiatives through the Small Grants Programme since 2009. With the support of partners, the GEF Small Grants Programme has helped nearly 160,000 community members to enhance their resilience, 9,754 ha of land has been restored and 4,162 ha improved, projects have increased agricultural production by 134%, and beneficiaries have seen up to 266% average increase in weekly income ($84-$307). Key results are also being recognized in empowering women, and involving indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities in disaster risk management.
These activities supported by the Small Grants Programme address the important interplay between human livelihood and natural environment to enhance resilience. For example, in Timor-Leste, approximately 300 people (87 households), particularly women, were supported on the use of drought-resistant crops and environmentally-friendly farming practices applied in home gardening and vegetable cultivation. With introduction of these practices, maize cultivation has more than doubled the production yields from 2 to 4-5 tons/hectare. The average weekly income also improved by 43% (USD 35/week to USD 50/week).
Building on these small but important success stories, we recognize at UNDP the need to forge further partnerships, among the public and private sectors, and civil society and bring these solutions to scale. UNDP can be a key convener for community-government-private sector partnership for island resilience.
I am therefore particularly pleased to announce today the partnership between the Small Grants Programme (SGP) and Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) to support the implementation of the Island Resilience Initiative. The support will put in place a framework to set up community‐based monitoring and database system on SDGs in the SIDS to enable informed policy and strategy development. The Small Grants Programme has been pioneering in initiating CSO-Government dialogues on key policy issues to scale up and mainstream successful initiatives. This partnership between the SGP and GLISPA will engage local communities and accelerate the implementation of the key international agreements, including the Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Agreement, SAMOA Pathway, and the New Urban Agenda.
Though this SGP and GLISPA initiative, and in partnership with Australia and others, UNDP looks forward to working together to enhance the resilience of local communities in the SIDS.