International Day of Clean Energy: Shining a light on the need for access to renewable energy for all

January 25, 2024
Clean Energy

The climate crisis, and the provision of energy for all is too big, too daunting a task; a burden too heavy for public institutions to shoulder alone.

Photo: UNDP

Suva, Fiji - Amidst the turbulence of global conflicts and economic uncertainty, one thing is clear: the current energy paradigm is unsustainable. Our dependence on fossil fuels is not only exacerbating climate change, but also leaving many countries vulnerable to potential price shocks and geopolitical instability.  

As we enter 2024, the time for tinkering is over. A decisive shift is now needed should we wish to achieve the global goals of a clean, green future; one that sees us break free from the shackles of the past and build a more resilient, equitable, and sustainable future for all.

However, this crucial transition faces a stark reality: for many Pacific islands, dependence on oil runs deep, posing a complex hurdle on the path to clean energy dominance.

For many Small Island Developing States (SIDS) across the Pacific, oil is essential to ensure reliable access to energy is maintained. In fact, according to a 2023 report from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) oil makes up approximately 80 percent of the Pacific’s total energy supply.

Of this, 52 percent is used for transport, 37 percent for electricity generation and 12 percent for other applications such as process heating.  

Renewable energy, at present, only accounts for approximately 17 percent of the Pacific’s total energy supply. 

Clean Energy and the Sustainable Development Goals

We know full well that energy is the dominant contributor to climate change, accounting for around 60 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 focuses on Affordable and Clean Energy, stressing the need for ensuring sustainable, affordable, equitable and modern energy for all.  

SDG7 states that by 2030 we will “enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology.”

With 26 January marking International Day of Clean Energy, it presents an opportune time to look at what the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji is doing to ensure that we both leave no one behind and protect both people and planet.  

Clean energy is crucial to the solution

Clean energy is not just a crucial part of the solution—it's the cornerstone of a sustainable future for the Pacific. As we enter 2024, we stand at a pivotal moment. Achieving net-zero emissions, realizing SDG7, and fulfilling our commitments to the Paris Agreement hinge on a rapid and comprehensive embrace of clean, accessible, and reliable renewable energy solutions. This transformation isn't merely necessary; it's an investment in our collective resilience and prosperity.

At UNDP Pacific, alongside governments across the region and with support from major partners such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), we are pushing forward with our clean energy agenda.  

We have worked with the Government of Tuvalu – supported by the GCF – to deliver the country’s inaugural Floating Solar Photovoltaic (FSPV) system. This cutting-edge clean energy solution sees 184 solar panels positioned on Tafua Pond in the Tuvalu capital, Funafuti. This installation reduces the country’s reliance on diesel-powered energy generation by 47,100 liters per year – a saving of approximately US$68,000 – and provides power to close to 40 percent of Funafuti’s population.  

In Fiji, the country’s Rural Electrification Fund is working to connect the final four percent the country’s population, electrifying 194 communities over the coming decade using innovative, renewable solutions that are a central pillar of the Government of Fiji’s 20-year National Development Plan. This commitment has already borne fruit on Vio Island, situated off the west coast of Fiji's largest island Viti Levu, with the Fund successfully providing Vio’s entire population with clean, renewable, and affordable electricity.

And in Vanuatu, where the country’s government holds the ambitious target of seeing 100 percent of the country’s energy sources being renewable by 2023, UNDP is supporting the installation of solar photovoltaic nano-grids across 34 communities, serving 13,000 people across the country’s rural population, with 2,500 households actively supported thanks to the GEF.

This is just a taste of our work across the Pacific, there is much more being implemented and in the pipeline across the clean energy space.  

But it’s still not enough.   

Show Me the Money!

To borrow a line from the iconic film Jerry Maguire, we're not just asking for a vision—we're asking, "Show me the money!"  

The just transition to clean energy sources hinges on a critical element: mobilizing robust private sector support. This isn't about shouldering the burden alone; it's about unleashing the transformative power of partnerships and shared investment in a brighter future.

The climate crisis, and the provision of energy for all is too big, too daunting a task; a burden too heavy for public institutions to shoulder alone.  

According to a joint report in 2022 from the International Energy Agency and the International Finance Corporation, investment in the clean energy sector across developing nations needs to increase from US$770 billion to as much as US$2.8 trillion by the early 2030s. The report reiterates that private sector support will be crucial should we wish to realize the targets outlined under SDG7, and if we want to stick to our commitments to the Paris Agreement.  

Removing current hurdles will unlock wider benefits for SIDS across the Pacific in the new energy market, while also opening doors for private investors. Green, social, and sustainability bonds – just as has been done with success in Fiji following the inaugural issuance of the country’s first Sovereign Blue Bond in 2023 – can further flourish with stronger market infrastructure such as clear guidelines, unified taxonomies, and solid certification.

The Pacific holds a beacon of hope for a world powered by clean energy, but we cannot illuminate this path alone. It's time to ignite a new era of collaboration, one that recognizes the unique needs of Pacific Island Countries and catalyzes private climate finance in ways that resonate with our realities. This isn't about replicating blueprints from elsewhere; it's about forging innovative partnerships that honor our ecosystems and empower our communities to become global leaders in sustainability.

This International Day of Clean Energy let's commit to making the Pacific Spring a reality. Let's light the way for a region powered by clean energy, one Pacific Island at a time.

For further media enquiries please contact:

Nick Turner - Communications and Advocacy Specialist, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji | (E)