The destructive effect of climate change has an immense impact on Small Island Developing States (SIDS). These nations, however, have demonstrated an equally strong political will by enhancing their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and national energy strategies to help fulfil their Sustainable Development Goals.
Since achieving these goals depends heavily on a successful transition to renewable energy sources, IRENA, through its SIDS Lighthouse Initiative (LHI), has been actively working with small islands towards accelerating the development of renewable energy projects. The Agency provides technical assistance, capacity-building, knowledge sharing, energy data and statistics analysis, and develops progress indicators for SIDS.
On 13 January, IRENA held a ministerial meeting on the pre-Assembly day of its 13th Assembly to present an update on the SIDS Lighthouses Initiative's progress toward the realisation of the S.A.M.O.A. Pathway, Paris Agreement, and Sustainable Development Goals. Held at the Assembly’s venue in Abu Dhabi, the session titled, “Climate Pledges to Action: Amplifying Energy Transition for Sustainable Development in SIDS” brought together heads of state, cabinet ministers and energy decision-makers from small islands.
Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA, reaffirmed the Agency's commitment to providing tailored solutions to address the unique needs and conditions of SIDS and noted that the Lighthouses Initiative supports the island nations across a wide spectrum of activities, including NDC enhancement and implementation, technical assistance, capacity building, policy and regulatory advice, project bankability, facilitation and access to finance, transport, and other end-use sectors. The Director-General also praised the crucial contribution made by partner nations who closely cooperate with IRENA in providing SIDS with the necessary specialised assistance.
Surangel S. Whipps Jr, President of Palau, who chaired the Ministerial, commended IRENA's work towards energy transition in the country and revealed that Palau is aiming to achieve energy independence with a target of 45 per cent renewable energy in the next three years.
Highlighting the urgency for climate adaptation, Siaosi Sovaleni, Prime Minister of Tonga, said only 20 percent of the global funds are aimed at adaptation, while 80 per cent go towards mitigation activities in the bigger developing countries.
Calling upon partners and stakeholders to build global consensus for climate ambition, Dr. Majid Al Suwaidi, Director-General, COP28 UAE Presidency, emphasised the importance of urgent climate action in small nations that are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, complimented SIDS’ leadership for their efforts in advancing climate action and perseverance in getting the international community to understand that loss and damage are not just issues for just discussion, but also require action.
After the opening remarks, a presentation on the SIDS Lighthouse initiative's implementation, the AOSIS-IRENA Energy Compact, and the S.A.M.O.A. Pathway's goals was delivered. Following this, a high-level ministerial roundtable discussed strategies to facilitate access to climate finance for energy transition investments and shared perspectives and insights in leading up to COP28 for accelerating clean energy transition in small island states.