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

May 7, 2012

SIDS Roll-out of the International Year ofSustainable Energy for All 2012

Excellencies,

Ministers,

Distinguished Guests,

Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to welcome you to this evening’s event on the banks of the beautiful Carlisle Bay, to mark the roll-out of the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All for Small Island Developing States.  UNDP is honored to have had the opportunity to jointly organize this important conference and specific roll-out event for SIDS with the Government of Barbados.

The video we have just seen illustrates how the benefits of energy are at the heart of all of life’s endeavors and drive human progress.  Access to modern energy services supports education and health care, enables economic development and jobs, empowers women and expands people’s choices for living fulfilled, productive lives.

During the course of today we have learned about the diversity of sustainable energy challenges and opportunities of Small Island Developing States.  Many remote communities still do not have modern energy services; and most SIDS still are highly dependent on imported fossil fuels for their energy needs, which makes energy services unaffordable and contributes to national debt and economic vulnerability.

 We also learned about great successes and opportunities.  Many of your countries have vast untapped potential in renewable energy options, such as wind, solar, ocean, or geothermal energy that can be developed to promote SIDS energy independence. 

For example, Fiji has put in place several measures to further increase national renewable energy use, such as zero fiscal and import-excise duties for a wide array of renewable energy technology, and the requirement for commercial banks to hold 2% of their deposits and similar liabilities in loans to renewable energy.

 In Jamaica, and St. Kitts and Nevis, three major wind plants delivering 30 megawatts new capacity have been installed; these initiatives include a public – private partnership and are also examples of best practice for in-time, under-budget project delivery. 

 SIDS have shown great leadership towards reducing their own greenhouse gas emissions and making their energy sectors more sustainable.  Partnerships, such as the SIDS-led Sustainable Energy Initiative – SIDS DOCK – are already making a real difference in transforming dependency on conventional energy toward efficient, renewable and affordable energy solutions.  I would like to acknowledge Denmark and Japan for their support to SIDS DOCK, as well as the World Bank, our implementing partner.  We welcome Barbados as the newest member of SIDS DOCK, having just concluded the membership signing ceremony.

Government efforts notwithstanding, achieving sustainable energy for all requires partnerships.  Public finance alone will not be able to mobilize modern, sustainable energy solutions; engagement with the private sector is needed to develop innovative business models and to develop or adapt existing technologies and approaches to the circumstances of SIDS.

I am looking forward to tomorrow’s Knowledge Fair, where we will hear from countries, local enterprises and multi-national companies with diverse experience about important and exciting work on energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable energy service provision.  And most importantly, to hear how we can grow and expand these stories and experiences in scaled-up action, moving towards 2030.

In closing, let me re-iterate the words of UNDP’s Administrator: sustainable energy is a top priority for us at UNDP.  We are committed to supporting countries to bring together public, private and civil society development partners to facilitate dialogue and partnerships around a common purpose.  We look forward to continuing to work with you to help you achieve your goals and commitment toward sustainable energy for all.

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