Small island nations commit to new steps at UN forum to reduce fossil fuel use

A renewable energy project in Tokelau, supported by UNDP, converts solar-generated power to electricity. UN Photo/Ariane Rummery

9 May 2012 – Twenty small island developing nations have announced new actions to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and end poverty, as they wrapped up a sustainable energy conference organized by the United Nations and the Government of Barbados.

The “Barbados Declaration” calls for universal access to modern and affordable renewable energy services, while protecting the environment, ending poverty and creating new opportunities for economic growth, according to a news release issued by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

The declaration – adopted ahead of next month’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) – includes an annex with voluntary commitments of 20 small island developing States (SIDS) to take actions toward providing universal access to energy, switching to renewable energy and reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

It emphasizes that there are commercially feasible options in many SIDS for providing energy such as wind, solar, geothermal, and oceans energy.

“However, these technologies must be made accessible, affordable and adaptable to the needs and particular circumstances of SIDS communities,” stated the declaration. “In this regard, we strongly urge the international community, particularly developed countries, to ensure the provision of financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building to SIDS.”

The host country announced its plan to increase the share of renewable energy in Barbados to 29 per cent of all electricity consumption by 2029. Among other commitments, the Maldives plans to achieve carbon neutrality in the energy sector by year 2020, while Seychelles will seek to produce 15 per cent of its energy supply from renewable energy by 2030.

The declaration also recognized the importance of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, launched by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last September, which seeks to ensure universal access to modern energy services, double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, all by 2030.

The two-day conference, which ended yesterday, brought together more than 100 Heads of State, ministers, leading development experts, civil society activists, business executives and UN officials from 39 SIDS.


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