Opening Remarks by Michelle Gyles-McDonnough UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for Barbados and the OECS

May 7, 2012

Achieving Sustainable Energy for All in SIDS - Challenges, Opportunities, Commitments.

The Honourable Freundel Stuart, Prime Minister of Barbados,

The Honourable Henry Puna, Prime Minister and Minister for the Environment of the Cook Islands,

The Honourable Kausa Natano, Deputy Prime Minister of Tuvalu,

The Honourable  Aloysius Amwano, Special Envoy of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Nauru and Chair of AOSIS,

Senator The Honourable Darcy Boyce, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with Responsibility for Energy,

The Honourable Dennis Lowe, Minister of Environment and Drainage of Barbados,

Other Members of the Cabinet of Barbados,

Senator the Honourable Kerryann Ifill, President of the Senate

Rt. Honourable Owen Arthur, Leader of the Opposition

Honourable Ministers and other Delegates from the 29 Member States of AOSIS present here today,

Ms. Veerle Vandeweerd, Director, Environment and Energy Group, UNDP,

Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

Colleague Heads of UN Agencies,

Heads of CARICOM Regional Organisations

Permanent Secretaries,

Representatives from the Private Sector and Civil Society

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Morning,

On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme let me say how delighted I am to welcome you to Barbados and to this very important conference. I know it has been a very long journey for many of you and we are very appreciative that you are here with us in Barbados.

It has been said that no army in the world is as strong as an idea whose time has come.  Sustainable energy for all is an idea whose time has come; and Barbados, a small island developing state with a determined focus on the continued improvement in the standard of living of its people and spreading the benefits of its development achievements across all citizens, guaranteeing each and every one a sustainable future, is the place to which you have come this week to unpack this idea.  This is a fitting place to focus our attention over the next two days and assertively shape the future we want.  Countries will agree the main messages and measures for discussion at the Global Sustainable Development Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil next month to ensure that we can achieve full realization of the Barbados Programme of Action for SIDS, including giving birth to a new energy paradigm to propel the development process across SIDS and the rest of the developing world. 

On the eve of Rio +20, messages like social justice, greater access to renewable energy, water and sanitation and a better quality of life for all resonate everywhere, but translating these messages into action on the ground is the real challenge.  The Sustainable Energy for All Initiative is the idea of Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, whose vision is to mobilize a broad multi-stakeholder coalition to achieve 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.

At this point, I take the opportunity, at his request, to deliver the message of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to this Small Island Developing States Conference on Sustainable Energy for All.

And I quote:

"I am pleased to greet this important meeting hosted by the Government of Barbados and the United Nations Development Programme.  

Your diverse group of countries is united by special vulnerabilities -- from climate change and increased risk from disasters, to restricted markets and high conventional energy costs that can hinder development.

Small Island Developing States need to free themselves from dependence on fossil fuel imports and transform their energy sectors to encompass modern, efficient, clean and renewable sources of energy.

Sustainable development is not possible without sustainable energy.  That is why I established my Sustainable Energy for All initiative.  Sustainable energy for all can drive economic growth.  It can lift people from poverty, strengthen social equity and protect our environment.

Because you are on the front lines of climate change, you know that we are at a pivotal moment.  The world’s appetite for energy continues to grow, and the global thermostat continues to rise.  My vision is a world with universal energy access; a doubling of the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and a doubling of renewable energy in our mix of fuel sources by 2030.

Two weeks ago, in London, the co-chairs of my High-level Group on Sustainable Energy for All launched the initiative’s Action Agenda.  It identifies high-impact opportunities that can make sustainable energy for all a reality.  As we move towards the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, I will count on your support for this Agenda. Sustainable energy must figure prominently in the outcome.

Rio+20 is now less than 50 days away.  We must do our utmost for an ambitious outcome.  We must focus on concrete results: such as an Oceans Compact, support for the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, and launching a process to establish Sustainable Development Goals that build on the Millennium Development Goals.

Your contributions are essential for a successful outcome from Rio+20 and realizing sustainable energy for all by 2030.  I urge you to ensure that the voices of island States are heard.

I thank you for your support."

End quote.

Honourable Prime Ministers,

Deputy Prime Minister,

Honourable Chair of AOSIS,

Ministers of Government,

Excellencies

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome and Good Morning.

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