Vava’u, Tonga- More than 300,000 Pacific islanders are directly benefiting from the regional Pacific Environment Community Fund (PEC Fund) supported by Japan, through which clean, reliable, low-cost and natural energy solutions and water desalination plants are installed.
Renewal Energy Projects supported by the PEC Fund generate approximately 1.3 million megawatt hours of electricity annually; as well, a 4,200-tonne reduction of carbon-dioxide (CO2) emission has been achieved annually.
This week, a ground-breaking ceremony was held in Koloa Village in Vava’u to mark the completion of the Vava’u and Ha’apai Rural and Remote Communities Solar Electrification Project.The event was opened by the Prime Minister, Hon Akilisi Pohiva as guest of honour, and attended by the Japanese Ambassador to Tonga, Ministers, Parliamentarians, and the Governors for Ha’apai and Vava’u.
Speaking at the ceremony, which is also marked the “final stages” of the PEC-funded projects across the region, Sione Tekiteki, Forum Secretariat Director of Political Governance and Security, commended the Government of Tonga as co-financier of the project and the Government of Japan for its financial support and commitment to Pacific countries.
“As small Pacific islands that are highly dependent on low-cost imports; as well as being highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and changes in weather patterns, projects such as these are critical in building resilience and self-sufficiency among Pacific people,” Mr Tekiteki said.
“The Tonga project will save an estimated 41,000 litres of diesel annually, enhance household economic productivity, increases accessibility to healthy, and reliable water and food supply. The Forum Secretariat is pleased to be involved in this initiative.”
A total of US$66 million was pledged by the Government of Japan in 2009 for actions on environment-related issues facing the Pacific islands. The PEC fund is managed by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
Mr Tekiteki said a key feature of the PEC Fund was its accessibility to Pacific nations. Projects borne out of the Fund are determined by the beneficiary to ensure a “country-led process”. Most of the initiatives under the Fund are already operational. Tonga, Papua New Guinea and Cook Islands are in the final stages of implementing their projects.
With the PEC Fund now in its final stages of implementation, Pacific leaders recently requested the Government of Japan “to replenish the Fund as well as expand its scope to cover other areas of PEC and other priorities of Pacific island countries, taking into account lessons learnt from existing PEC Fund arrangement”.
“We would encourage the Government of Japan and other development partners to maintain very real and tangible initiatives as these in the future; we remain optimistic of future replenishment,” Mr Tekiteki said.
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