UNDP & Japan Support Peace in Bougainville through Solar Farms

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Papua New Guinea together with the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government, have launched US$ 4.4m Bougainville micro solar farms Project in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. The project supports the provision of renewable and reliable energy for a more sustainable and climate resilient future for the people of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

March 10, 2023

The event was attended by Ms. Mitsuko Shino, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, and Ms. Kanni Wignaraja, UN Assistant Secretary-General, UNDP Assistant Administrator, and UNDP Director for the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, as well as representatives from the Permanent Missions of Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Timor-Leste, and Vanuatu to the United Nations.

This project is part of the wider US$ 36 million “Enhancing Green Transformation in the Pacific towards Net-Zero Emissions and Climate-Resilient Development for Peace" project that the Government of Japan is funding to support four Pacific Island nations. The ‘Green Transformation’ initiatives will reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, drive sustainable economic growth and help them cope with the impacts of climate change. The four Pacific countries benefiting from this project are Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Timor Leste, and Vanuatu. The project will leverage the expertise of UNDP’s Climate Promise portfolio to support each country to transition toward net zero and climate resilient pathways, in line with their commitments enshrined in the Paris Agreement, and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Funded by the Government of Japan, the Bougainville Micro Solar Farms Project is designed to support the development of renewable energy options in Bougainville and reduction on reliance on diesel as main form of energy in the region.

The project will support the construction and commissioning of three micro solar farms in the north, central, and south regions of Bougainville with a total capacity of 1 Megawatt (MW). It will also provide independent and neutral support to the two governments in the implementation of the post referendum process.

The Ambassador of Japan to Papua New Guinea, H.E. Mr. Nobuyuki Watanabe said it was opportune time to help support the green transformation in the Pacific and in particular Papua New Guinea that relies heavily on fossil fuels to power much of its electricity generation.

“The project funding provided by the Government of Japan under the wider Pacific green transformation program will contribute not only to the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement but also the economic development of the Autonomous Region, the most needed element for the people’s endeavor as has been stressed by Prime Minister Marape and President Toroama. I am convinced that the Japanese people's desire to help the development of Bougainville will reach the people of Bougainville through this project.”

H.E. Ambassador Watanabe said that Japan has also funded the development of three Bougainville Innovation Hubs that are currently being built in north, central and south Bougainville. The innovation hubs are expected to be completed by September 2023. H.E. Ambassador Watanabe said Japan also supported the referendum which was successfully conducted in 2019 by providing necessary materials including printing presses that were also used to the fullest during the 2020 regional elections.

UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Dirk Wagener said that the assistance from the Government of Japan will stimulate opportunities for growth of the renewable energy sector in Bougainville through implementation and roll out of renewable energy skills and training, community engagement and help reduce reliance on expensive diesel imports in a period of increased energy prices.

“The Project will support the roll out of renewable energy sector skills among the youth and women, develop legislative and procedural regulations supportive of renewable energy and the development of three micro solar farms that will be connected to the larger Bougainville innovation hubs network. The project is expected to catalyse and leverage further investments in renewable energy sector in the region,” said Mr. Wagener.

UNDP supports the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, and its Post-Referendum process, through a comprehensive programme of support that is based on both peace sustainment and economic development. With the formal launch of this project, the programme is now supported by the Government of Japan as its largest donor.