Despite bearing almost no responsibility for climate change, the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are particularly vulnerable to its effects due to their geographic, socioeconomic, and climatic characteristics. Nevertheless, these countries have shown tremendous political will by establishing ambitious targets in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and national energy policies to help fulfil their Sustainable Development Goals.
IRENA, through its Lighthouse Initiative (LHI), has been working actively towards accelerating the development of renewable energy projects in SIDS. The Agency provides technical assistance, capacity building, knowledge sharing, energy data and statistics analysis, as well as developing progress indicators and impact measurements addressing the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index for SIDS.
To highlight the achievements of SIDS NDC implementation to date and identify the actions and gaps to meet their targets, IRENA and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) hosted, “Closing the Gap: securing lives, creating livelihoods in Small Islands Developing States” session at COP27 on 16 November.
“At 6.5 GW by the end of 2021, the uptake of renewables in SIDS has been impressive,” said IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera. IRENA and AOSIS are working to meet NDC target of 10 GW of total installed renewable energy capacity in every SIDS by 2030. “We look forward to continued engagement with AOSIS in the coming years accelerating the energy transition efforts for climate action and sustainable development in SIDS,” the Director-General added.
The high-level panel of cabinet ministers, regional and international development partners, financing institutions and other relevant stakeholders discussed strategies to close the financing, technology, capacity, and knowledge gaps and raise the ambition for SIDS’ energy transition and climate action.
Finance for climate adaptation action remains a top priority for the island nations, yet the pledge by developed nations to provide USD 100 billion annually for climate funding remains unfulfilled. Birgit Schwenk, Director General Climate Policy, Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Affairs, Germany, said, “Major emitters must live up to their promises and take action.”
Speaking on challenges in mobilising financing for energy projects, Dr Colin Young, Executive Director, Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, said, “There is limited fiscal space to transition, and we depend on external resources to help build our resilience.”
Based on IRENA’s latest NDC analysis, SIDS account for the majority share of countries that have committed to 100 per cent renewables in their electricity mix by 2030. Aminath Shauna, Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Technology, Maldives, said his government has taken a leadership position in capitalising renewable energy resources to mitigate climate-induced vulnerabilities. “We have the ambition to transform our economies and fill it with the sunshine, which is so abundant in the Maldives.”
See the visual story: We Likkle But We Tallawah—We are Small But Strong and Resilient