Climate action taken so far to help fund efforts in cash-strapped small island developing States (SIDS) “does not measure up to what has been said” in the wake of COP28 in Dubai last year.

That was the strong message from President of the Western Pacific nation of Palau Surangel Whipps speaking at an Interactive Dialogue on Wednesday during the Fourth International Conference on SIDS (SIDS4), taking place this week on the twin island of Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean.

He told delegates there needed to be a “transition from rhetoric to decisive action”.

But, representatives from two European nations committed to climate financing said substantial progress is being made, pointing to news just hours earlier from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) confirming that a total of $115.9 billion had been raised in 2022 for climate action in developing countries.

In 2009, COP15 established the goal of mobilising $100 billion per year for climate action in the developing world, by 2020.

Today’s session was designed to build on commitments made in Dubai which established the crucial Loss and Damage Fund to help SIDS and other vulnerable nations to offset the impacts of extreme weather, rising sea-levels and coastal erosion.

President Whipps said increasing support for SIDS was not just vital for their survival, “but essential for solving the world’s climate challenges”.

He added that “we need robust and accountable international climate finance mechanisms that deliver real results.”

The Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Simon Stiell, returned to the charge that there was too much rhetoric and not enough action.

He stressed that being on the same page was important.

“There is an alignment in terms of the language, and we ‘ve made great progress within the process over the past few years,” he said.

“Where we are short is in building momentum for action,” he added, singling out the Global Stocktake agreed at COP28 to take an inventory on climate action progress. Not enough progress has been made, “but it gave us that roadmap as to how we now move forward within the next period.”

Mr. Stiell said it was clear that the upcoming COPs in Baku, Azerbaijan, and Belém, Brazil, will be the real test of “whether we are shifting from words into action”.

He too welcomed the OECD figures announced on Wednesday and said there is now an opportunity to consider what the transition to renewable energy really means for SIDS.

It amounts to “economic transformation”, he said.

“Removing that dependency on fossil fuels, the foreign exchange leakages, the high costs of energy which impacts competitiveness, cost of living and disposable incomes – this is absolutely critical to your regional development.”

Mr. Stiell further stated that the next two years will determine “whether we’re shifting from words into action”.

He added that the UNFCCC would assist all SIDS in their pursuit of more climate finance “in achieving the greatest possible outcome in COPS29 and 30”.