Small Island Developing States agree to reduce dependence on fossil fuels

08 May 2012

imageA renewable energy project in Tokelau, supported by UNDP, converts solar-generated power to electricity. (Photo: UN/Ariane Rummery)

Bridgetown — The Achieving Sustainable Energy for All in Small Island Developing States Conference concluded today with the adoption of the “Barbados Declaration” calling for universal access to modern and affordable renewable energy services, while protecting environment, ending poverty and creating new opportunities for economic growth.

The declaration, adopted just weeks before the UN Conference on Sustainable Development ‘Rio+20’, includes an annex with voluntary commitments of 20 Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to take actions toward providing universal access to energy, switching to renewable energy and reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

The host country announced their plan to increase the share of renewable energy in Barbados to 29 percent of all electricity consumption by 2029.

“By 2029 we expect that total electricity costs would have been cut by US$283.5 million and CO2 emissions would have been reduced by 4.5 million tons,” said Prime Minister Freundel Stuart of Barbados. “We also envisage an overall 22 percent reduction in projected electricity consumption based on the use of energy efficiency measures.”

The commitments of other small developing island states include:

  • Maldives committed to achieve carbon neutrality in the energy sector by year 2020
  • Marshall Island aim to electrify all urban households and 95 percent of rural outer atoll households by 2015
  • Mauritius committed to increasing the share of renewable energy - including solar power, wind energy, hydroelectric power, bagasse and landfill gas - to 35 percent or more by 2025
  • Seychelles committed to produce 15 percent of energy supply from renewable energy by 2030

The declaration recognizes the importance of the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative and that today’s energy issues cannot be resolved unilaterally but rather through open dialogue and cooperation.

The declaration states that the delegates “Remain deeply concerned that most SIDS are highly dependent on imported oil and other  fossil fuels for transport and electricity generation  and this is a  major source of economic vulnerability for SIDS. This leaves SIDS highly exposed to oil-price volatility.”

The Barbados Declaration emphasizes that there are commercially feasible options in many small island states for providing energy such as wind, solar, geothermal, and oceans energy.

“However, these technologies must be made accessible, affordable and adaptable to the needs and particular circumstances of SIDS communities,” states the declaration.  “In this regard, we strongly urge the international community, particularly developed countries, to ensure the provision of financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building to SIDS,”

The two-day conference  brought together more than 100 heads of state, ministers, leading development experts, civil society activists, business executives and UN officials from 39 countries from the Caribbean, the Pacific, Indian Ocean, and Africa, that belong to the SIDS group.

“Our global presence, expertise in capacity building, and extensive development finance experience allow us to help small island development states in their transformation toward sustainable energy for all, by supporting them to develop capacities to attract investments,” said Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.

The Declaration reiterates “that the outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference must be ambitious and convey the urgency of fully embracing the sustainable development agenda including the fulfillment of all commitments related to SIDS.”

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 Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas at the Organisation of American States, SIDS DOCK and Archers Hall Design Centre.

Contact Information

Stanislav Saling, UNDP New York, stanislav.saling@undp.org

Janine Chase, UNDP Barbados, janine.chase@undp.org