PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM SECRETARY GENERAL, MR HENRY PUNA
13th IRENA GENERAL ASSEMBLY
SIDS MINISTERIAL MEETING
Climate Pledges to Action: Amplifying Energy Transition for Sustainable Development in SIDS
Friday 13 January 2023
Room A St. Regis Hotel, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi
❖ Honourable Chair,
❖ Distinguished Delegates,
❖ Ladies and Gentlemen
Happy New Year and warm Pacific greetings.
1. Thank you for the opportunity to bring some more perspectives from the Blue Pacific Continent this afternoon.
2. At the outset, let me say that energy security remains at the heart of our long-term survival and prosperity in the Pacific, as set out in the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent – our region’s overarching strategic policy vision.
3. We are an oceanic region, comprising small island states that are spread far and wide across the Pacific, with remote islands often located far away from capital cities, and metropolitan centers. We therefore rely on imported energy sources to ship goods, to transport people, and to power our businesses and homes.
4. We often pay some of the highest energy prices per unit in the world, by virtue of our relatively small population sizes, and remote geographical location. Therefore we are badly affected, whenever there are fluctuations in energy prices, or supply shocks.
5. The current global energy crisis, has driven global oil prices up, in turn putting sharp upward pressure on our own fuel, food, and electricity prices, highlighting clearly how vulnerable we are at present.
6. Excellencies, it is why we in the Pacific remain firmly wedded to the transition to renewables, and in this context, I am happy to indicate that there have been significant shifts across our region already, as countries make the move to more climate-friendly, and sustainable energy sources.
7. Added to this, the Pacific region is rich in renewable energy sources, with potential for hydropower, solar, wave energy and to a lesser extent, wind. This potential provides the impetus for Pacific countries, to actively seek investments, to further develop these energy sources.
8. A number of our countries have put in place renewable energy policies, with short, medium, and long-term targets, that indicate where the actions and investments will be focused; policies that are of course integrated with our wider NDCs and targets.
9. For me it is something of a privilege to be speaking to you on this topic, given that during my 10 years as Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, I led our country’s solar energy transition process, resulting in over 80% of our national electricity now being produced by solar energy.
10. Excellencies, as we manage the sustainable energy transition, I am heartened by the fact that we are also helping to reduce the causes of climate change. I am proud, that many of our Pacific Island nations remain committed to this action, not simply for economic and development purposes, but also because of its contribution to environmental protection, and human and planetary sustainability.
11. At this juncture, I want to call on our development partners, the multilateral financial institutions and private investors, to make the commitment to invest and channel financial resources at scale coupled with technology transfers, towards renewable energy transformation, in Pacific Small Island Developing States. These are critical factors, in ensuring that PSIDS fully transition to renewable energy, thus reducing Green House Gas emissions, and provide energy for communities that currently do not have access. Your actions would truly ensure, we are amplifying the transitions that are needed.
12. Chair, Excellencies, Friends…. in closing, renewable energy offers the promise of greater energy security for all, and the decisions we reach, must facilitate access to finance and new technologies, including access to intellectual property rights, to allow renewable energy to be fully realised and transformational, as part of the solution to the climate and energy crisis we are all facing.
13. I thank you.–ENDS