Business Network Explores Ocean Energy Partnerships for Small Island Developing States
NEW YORK/ABU DHABI- 30 & 31 March 2021 - The SIDS Global Business Network (GBN) Forum, an initiative of the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), took place virtually from 30-31 March 2021.
Organised jointly with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the forum focused on private sector collaboration on sustainable energy and oceans in the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In opening remarks by the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, Ms. Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, she stressed that SIDS continue to incur high electricity costs given their heavy reliance on fossil fuels and that ocean energy presents a major opportunity towards fostering a sustainable blue economy for island nations.
Ocean energy presents key opportunities for SIDS including the decarbonisation of the power sector, water desalination, aquaculture, shipping and cooling. According to IRENA’s recently published report Innovation Outlook: Ocean Energy Technologies, ocean energy in the form of tidal stream and wave energy are picking up at an increasingly rapid pace. IRENA estimates that around 10 GW of ocean energy capacity could be commercially deployed by 2030.
Several SIDS are already in the process of exploring and/or implementing initiatives on ocean energy ranging from offshore wind to solar, tidal and ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC). While some of these initiatives are at nascent stages, discussions at the Forum focused on amplifying innovation, capacity building, knowledge and technology transfer that will support SIDS in overcoming the challenges associated with the development of sustainable ocean energy.
Despite the growing potential of ocean energy, major challenges remain for SIDS. In particular, funding is needed to move from proven concepts to commercial or public power generation. The investment and capacity building needs of SIDS will also need greater engagement and support from the private sector and international development banks.
To address financing gaps, the Forum discussed possible paths including innovative financing mechanisms to encourage private sector and public investment in ocean energy technologies with the assistance of development partners already keen to support such initiatives like the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
In his closing remarks, the President and CEO of the World Ocean Council, Mr Paul Holthus, highlighted that sufficient data, appropriate policies and enabling frameworks, climate resilient ocean energy infrastructure and affordable technologies as well as enhanced financial viability of projects will remain crucial for the successful development and use of ocean energy for SIDS.
Mechanisms like the SIDS-GBN, SIDS Lighthouses Initiative the SIDS Partnership Framework and IRENA’s Collaborative Framework Ocean Energy & Offshore Renewables aim to share information on ocean energy and innovations to support SIDS in transitioning to a sustainable energy future in addition to fostering mutually beneficial partnerships. They help in contributing to key milestone processes like the Second UN Ocean Conference to be held in 2022 and the work of the UN Decade for Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.