The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Oceania Regional Office’s (ORO) Energy Programme Coordinator, Anare Matakiviti and Regional Programme Coordinator, Mason Smith participated in the Ninth Joint Committee (JC9) meeting of Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Sustainable Energy programme in New York, USA this month.
The JC is an annual event where donor representatives (Italy, Austria, Luxembourg and Spain) and all the Pacific SIDS permanent representatives to the United Nations (UN) meet to discuss issues of relevance to the Pacific SIDS Sustainable Energy Programme. This year’s event was special because it took place at the heel of COP21 and with the Paris Agreement still a hot issue, the Pacific SIDS and their donor partners took the opportunity to discuss potential approaches to meting their respective commitments. The JC9 event was used also as an opportunity to seek support from Pacific SIDS Permanent Representatives to the UN on discussions for a Pacific Renewable Energy Programme that will build on the lessons learned from the Energy, Ecosystems and Sustainable Livelihoods Initiative (EESLI) programme. Now in its seventh year running the EESLI has demonstrated many good success stories that have made an impact on the region including:
- Financing investments in green buildings: After a successful project in Palau with the Palau Development Bank, now 6 Pacific island development banks offer low interest loans for eco-housing, tourism and energy efficiency.
- Special initiatives small grants have provided solar to eco-tourism initiatives in Solomon Islands and Fiji as well as lighting for schools and communities.
- Solar panels in Ha’apai provide lights to over 100 homes and water pumps to schools and communities in Tongatapu as well as 290 homes in Kapari, Papua New Guinea.
- The Talise Hydro dam will provide electricity to three villages and ensure the biodiversity and land use in the catchment is managed well.
- Efficiency: replacing light bulbs in street lights in Marshall Islands leads to US$300,000 in savings per year for Government.
- Research has been conducted on coconut and Jatropha fuels with an ongoing project in Samoa.
- Policy initiated on low carbon energy use and grid connected solar in four countries.
The proposed Pacific Renewable Energy Programme, which received a general acceptance and support from all the PSIDS UN Permanent Representatives, will allow IUCN and key regional partners to provide for the following:
- Sustainable Transport: A two pronged approach that will help countries reduce overall use of fossil fuel for transportation at a national level up to 30% and provide alternative models for sustainable sea transport utilizing sail and solar / eco-diesel for our most remote islands.
- Renewable Energy: Building on the regional Strategy for Climate and Resilient Development – a guide for sustainable development, the regional energy component will look at improving service delivery in the education, health, fishery, agriculture and eco-tourism sectors. As much as possible the renewable energy component will link in with the provision of quality water supply, management of coastal fisheries and the conservation of natural ecosystems through community engagement with a renewable energy partnership.
- Financing Energy Efficiency: this component will provide funds and work with partner banks on low interest loans for energy efficient homes, financing mechanisms for efficient appliances and equipment, efficient streetlights and improving lighting efficiency in public buildings.
- Small Grants: this component will support off grid solutions and sustainable transport opportunities for communities, schools, rural eco-tourism entities and special initiatives that will have biodiversity conservation outcomes.
- Resilient Housing: the severity of disasters caused by natural events such as cyclones, Tsunamis, earth quake, etc., necessitate a re-look at the type of houses that are in common use in the Pacific. One lesson that has emerged from the recent Tropical Cyclone that hit Fiji (TC Winston) is that the type of houses widely used in rural communities are not suitable or appropriate for this climatic changing conditions. This component will support the design of eco-homes using local materials to meet the minimum standards set for homes in hurricane prone areas.
The RPC and EPC also met with representatives from the Governments of Italy, Austria, Luxemburg and Spain thanking them for ongoing partnerships with IUCN and PSIDS through the EESLI projects discussing the challenges faced in implementing projects and highlighting that the positive impacts made on the ground after seven years of project implementation is a positive indicator to scale up the energy programme in the region. The meeting ended on a successful note with the Government of Italy pledging additional funding for the EESLI programme.