Small Island States Take Steps to Become Energy Independent & End Poverty
The Government of Barbados, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States will host from 7 to 9 May 2012 the High-Level Conference of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS): Achieving Sustainable Energy for All in SIDS and the Rio+20 Informal Ministerial Meeting.
Prime Minister of Barbados Freundel Stuart and UNDP Resident Representative in Barbados Michelle Gyles-McDonnough will open the Conference which will discuss policy strategies leading to universal access to energy, increase in renewable energy production and energy efficiency.
Convened less than two months before world leaders gather in Brazil for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development “Rio+20”, the Bridgetown Conference brings together high level representatives of 39 countries from the Caribbean, the Pacific, Indian Ocean, and Africa, that belong to the Small Island Developing States group.
“Small island developing states can leap toward the goal of a poverty free and prosperous future by changing their energy sectors,” said Prime Minister Stuart. “Just weeks before the Rio+20 Conference, our countries can rally the international community with a unified voice, sharing our aspiration to become fully sustainable, and to contribute to a meaningful outcome of the meeting in Rio de Janeiro.”
In Bridgetown, heads of state, the private sector and civil society will also foster discussions on the SIDS sustainable energy partnership (SIDS DOCK), an initiative focused on creating an institutional mechanism to help small island states transform their energy sectors into a catalyst for sustainable economic development and to generate financial resources to address adaptation to climate change.
“Rising oil prices fuel economic and social instability in the energy importing small island developing states,” said Gyles-McDonnough. “Phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, building local renewable energy sectors, investing in green jobs and strengthening social safety nets for people whose livelihoods depend on imported energy is critical for gaining energy independence and poverty eradication.”
The effects of global climate change on SIDS, particularly related to the islands’ vulnerability to rising sea levels and extreme weather conditions, are other major challenges to which these countries need to respond.
Concurrent to the conference, UNDP will host a Knowledge Fair, at which civil society groups, the private sector and SIDS governments can share best practices, display their work toward achieving sustainable energy for all, and showcase technologies in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors.
In order to spur economic growth, address global inequities and preserve the environment, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has established the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. The Secretary-General has set three complementary objectives to be achieved by 2030: to ensure universal access to modern energy services; to double energy efficiency; and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
Participants of the Bridgetown Conference will also mark the roll-out of the 2012 International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.