Reducing dependence on fossil fuels essential for progress in SIDS
Conference on energy independence and sustainable development of small island developing states starts today in Barbados
Bridgetown — Small island developing states (SIDS) need to free themselves from dependence on fossil fuel imports and transform their energy sectors to encompass modern, efficient, clean and renewable sources of energy, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a message to an audience of prime ministers, ministers, international experts, civil society leaders and business executives at the Barbados Conference today.
“Sustainable development is not possible without sustainable energy,” the Secretary-General continued in his message to the conference ‘Achieving Sustainable Energy for All in Small Island Developing States,’ convened by the Government of Barbados and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
“The world’s appetite for energy continues to grow, and the global thermostat continues to rise. My vision is a world with universal energy access; a doubling of the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and a doubling of renewable energy in our mix of fuel sources by 2030.”
Small island developing states are highly dependent on imported oil and other fossil fuels for transport and electricity generation, which is a major source of economic volatility.
“We know that although many Small Island Developing States are energy deficient in conventional energy, limitless potential for renewable energy and energy efficiency resides in our countries. The fundamental issue thus is how do we, as small island developing states with inherent structural problems and limited resources, convert this renewable energy potential into a tangible product that is accessible, affordable and adaptable,” proclaimed Prime Minister, The Honourable Freundel Stuart in addressing delegates at the opening ceremony this morning.
In some small island states, switching to hydro, solar, geothermal or other renewable energy sources can free up to 30 percent of gross domestic product which is otherwise expended on imports of oil and refined petroleum products. The savings can be then invested into jobs in sectors such as clean energy, improved health care and education, stronger safety nets for people whose livelihoods will be affected by the phase out of fossil fuels, adaptation to climate change, and other programmes.
Already one member of the small island developing states group, Tonga, is planning to become a carbon-free producer of electricity in 2012, while the nearby Pacific territory of Tokelau has similar intentions this year.
A key aim of the Barbados Conference is to share good practices and help identify means of providing necessary know-how, technology and financing for transformation toward energy independence and sustainable development.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart of Barbados and UNDP Environment and Energy Group Director Veerle Vandeweerd opened the conference today by acknowledging the leadership of small island developing states when it comes to action on transforming the energy sector, reducing carbon footprint and taking steps toward sustainable development. This is a critical contribution of small island developing states group just weeks before more than 120 heads of state will gather at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development ‘Rio + 20’.
“Rio+20 is now less than 50 days away. We must do our utmost for an ambitious outcome. We must focus on concrete results: such as an Oceans Compact, support for the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, and launching a process to establish Sustainable Development Goals that build on the Millennium Development Goals,” the Secretary-General said in his message today. “I urge you to ensure that the voices of island States are heard.”
“Achieving sustainable energy for all in small island developing states includes providing all households with access to modern and affordable renewable energy services, while eradicating poverty, safeguarding the environment and providing new opportunities for sustainable development and economic growth,” said Veerle Vandeweerd of UNDP.
The ‘Achieving Sustainable Energy for All in Small Island Developing States’ will culminate on Tuesday with a “Barbados Declaration” articulating the participants’ jointly proposed goals and priorities for transformation toward clean energy, sustainable development and poverty eradication.
About the conference:
The Barbados Conference is organized jointly by the Government of Barbados and UNDP with support from Australia, Norway, UN Foundation, the British High Commission in Barbados, the Organisation of American States, SIDS DOCK and Archers Hall Design Centre.
Other leading government officials and development experts participating in the Barbados discussions include Prime Minister Henry Puna, the Cook Islands; Senator The Hon. Darcy Boyce, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Energy, Barbados; Hon. Dennis Lowe, Minister of Environment and Drainage, Barbados (on Rio+20); Hon. Julian Robinson, Minister of State, Ministry of Energy and Mining and ICT, Jamaica; Hon. Joy Grant, Minister of Energy, Science and Technology and Public Utilities, Belize; Hon. Nazim Burke, Minister of Finance, Planning, Economy, Energy, and Cooperatives, Grenada; and Hugh Sealey, Ph.D., Energy and Sustainable Development Adviser, Grenada.
Conference topics include: “Ensuring Affordable and Reliable Access to Modern Energy Services in SIDS by 2030”; “Doubling the Rate of Improvement in Energy Efficiency in SIDS by 2030”; “Doubling the Share of Renewables in the Energy Mix in SIDS by 2030”; “SIDS DOCK - The SIDS Sustainable Energy Partnership Mechanism”; “Enabling Environment and Financing Sustainable Energy for All in SIDS”; and consider renewable energy options for the Caribbean proposed by UNDP field office and their replicability for other SIDS. The conference will also mark the SIDS roll out of the 2012 International Year of Sustainable Energy for All; and the conference will host a technology fair featuring renewable energy solutions for small island developing states.
Stanislav Saling, UNDP New York, firstname.lastname@example.org
Janine Chase, UNDP Barbados, email@example.com