Small Island States Urged to take Steps to Become Energy Independent
BRIDGETOWN. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) calls on global leaders to commit to a secure sustainable energy supplies and a greater use of renewable energy beyond asking for technical and financial support and create a level playing field for them to compete with fossil fuels.
In addressing delegates at a ministerial luncheon at the 3rd Interregional Preparatory Meeting of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), UN Under-Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator Rebeca Grynspan indicated that energy costs are one of the most pressing challenges to development among SIDS. Addressing the topic Sustainable Energy: Placing Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency at the Centre of the Sustainable Development of SIDS, Ms. Grynspan said SIDS are vulnerable to volatile market prices for fossil fuels, which drain revenues and threaten the foreign reserves of the countries.
“Too many people have watched as their sustainable dividends have been eroded or wiped out by rising energy costs,” she said. She further noted that these high costs also contribute to high debt levels and stressed that beyond economic growth energy is vital for global human development because it facilitates education, good health and jobs.
Ms. Gryspan said there are still many people around the world who do not have access to modern, adequate and safe sources of energy and are forced to rely on wood charcoal and animal waste to cook meals and heat their homes, exposing themselves and their family to indoor pollution, which has killed nearly two million people across the globe. She noted that while more women and children die annually from this kind of pollution than from malaria it is still an invisible cause of health, thus another reason for cheaper and more sustainable forms of energy.
UNDP’s Energy and Environment Practice Leader, Martin Krause said UNDP studies have shown that when electricity is introduced to villages and households there is a marked increase in income-generating activities, using Fiji as an example he said because refrigerators were able to preserve fish longer villagers were able to make more sales.
Mr. Krause said with the advent of electricity there was also increased security.
He highlighted two programmes currently supported by the UNDP – a bio fuel initiative in Cuba where the aim is to increase that country’s access to bio-energy technology particularly to farmers in rural areas and at the same time knowledge sharing in order to inform policy.
In Haiti only ten per cent of the population has access to electricity, that country only consumes 75 kilowatt hours per capita, the lowest in the world. Mr. Krause said this urgent, sustainable energy project will set up independent power producers who will feed power into the grid for communities across the country.
For similar projects to work elsewhere Mr. Krause said there needs to be strong government commitment and support from the private sector.
UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in 177 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.
J. Ricky Wilson
Environment, Energy and Climate Change
United Nations Development Programme Barbados & the OECS
Phone: 246-467-6014 Fax: 246-429-2448