SIDS Pave the Path to Prosperity, Resilience and Sustainable Development


Being the most vulnerable to, yet the least responsible for climate change, it is not a surprise that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are setting ambitious energy transition targets and tirelessly calling the international community to support their climate goals. As reflected in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), SIDS have been committed to reducing fossil fuel dependency and boosting socio-economic growth through renewable energy deployment and energy efficiency interventions.

While island nations face the challenges of limited land availability and infrastructure, they have surpassed expectations and installed 8.7 gigawatts of renewables capacity last year. The 40 SIDS (COP Parties) that ratified the Paris Agreement accounted for 6.6 GW of total renewable energy installed capacity by the end of 2023.

This steadfast progress showcases their leadership in the collective efforts to fight climate change, and their resolute commitment in meeting the Paris Agreement as well as the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda goals. Facilitated by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), countries that are partners of the SIDS Lighthouse Initiative set a renewable energy target of 10 GW by 2030.

However, achieving further targets outlined in the updated NDCs requires a projected minimum investment of USD 10 billion by 2030. In an effort to identify innovative financing mechanisms, facilitate technology transfer, and outline capacity-building initiatives that can support SIDS’s sustainable energy objectives the SIDS Lighthouses Initiative (LHI) held a high-level session during the United Nations’ 4th International Conference on SIDS (SIDS4) in Antigua and Barbuda this week.

Coinciding with the LHI’s 10-year anniversary, the side event brought together representatives from SIDS development partners, regional and multilateral organisations, financing institutions, academia, and NGOs, who explored – among others – financing landscape and available mechanisms for accelerating SIDS’ energy transition and climate action. 

“By fostering genuine collaborations and mobilizing resources effectively, we can pave the way for a sustainable future for SIDS and contribute significantly to global climate action,” said Hon. Melford Nicholas, Minister of Information, Communication Technologies (ICTs), Utilities and Energy, Antigua and Barbuda in his opening remarks, reiterating the importance of working together to realise the objectives of the Antigua and Barbuda Agenda for SIDS (ABAS) over the next decade.

Coordinated and facilitated by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the SIDS LHI is an action framework supporting SIDS in their renewable-based energy transition. Launched by IRENA 10 years ago, the SIDS LHI currently brings 41 SIDS and 48 developmental partners together to address energy transition and climate action through a holistic approach, including policy and market frameworks, technology options, and capacity building.

“In the field of renewable energies, we are promoting investments in solar thermal, solar photovoltaic production at the level of distributed generation and ocean generation, but specifically in Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion,” said H.E. José do Nascimento de Rio, Minister of Infrastructure, Natural Resources and Environment, São Tomé and Príncipe, on the country’s efforts to integrate a diverse mix of renewable energy projects, ensuring alignment SIDS energy transition goals.

Technology transfers and knowledge sharing were also central themes of the discussions. Speakers discussed strategies for technology transfer and capacity-building, which serve to address SIDS’ needs in terms of skills and expertise required for renewable energy development.

In this regard, H.E. Flavien Joubert, Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment, Seychelles, emphasised the need for knowledge sharing to accelerate the transition to a greener energy sector, “We must prioritize initiatives that facilitate the transfer of proven technologies, coupled with robust knowledge-sharing platforms, to empower SIDS in their energy transition and climate action endeavors.”

“Identifying and addressing capacity-building needs is fundamental to enhancing SIDS’ resilience and expertise in renewable energy development. This entails investing in education, training, and skill development programs tailored to the specific requirements of SIDS communities,“ he added, highlighting the importance of education and skills development in building local resiliency and self-reliance during the energy transition.

Through enduring partnerships and effective resource mobilisation, SIDS can achieve their national and international commitments while making sure their citizens benefit from the transition with improved livelihoods. IRENA’s side event titled ‘Transforming SIDS Economies through Energy Transition and Climate Action towards Prosperity, Resilience and Sustainable Development’ inspired continued collaboration to support SIDS in charting their course towards resilient prosperity.