I am looking forward to attending the 3rd Regional Meeting for Energy and Maritime Transport Ministers to be held in Tonga 24-28 April 2017.  In addition to discussions on strategic and policy matters, SPC and the Government of Tonga will officially launch the Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (PCREEE) for the Pacific region.  Initial funding for the PCREEE is generously provided by UNIDO and the Governments of Austria and Australia.

The purpose of the Centre is to contribute towards increased access to modern, affordable and reliable energy services, energy security and mitigation of negative aspects of the energy system (e.g. local pollution, GHG emissions) by creating an enabling environment for renewable energy and energy efficiency markets and investments. The Pacific region is already making good progress towards increased use of renewable energy sources and improved energy efficiency.

But we have a long way to go since we are one of the most fossil-fuel dependent regions in the world.  Every year, we import about 800 million to 1 billion USD worth of fuel.  Most of this fuel is used in transportation and in power generation.

PCREEE is part of wider post-2015 multi-stakeholder and triangular partnership directed to implement the SAMOA Pathway, SDG 7, SDG 9, the regional Framework for Action on Energy Security in the Pacific and the Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement (SDG 13). The partnership aims to create a network of regional sustainable energy centres for SIDS in Africa, Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean.

This global network represents an innovative fusion of regional and international efforts and capabilities. Its design leverages a network of intra and extra regional partnerships, serving as a “hub” for knowledge and technical expertise on matters related to sustainable energy projects implementation. It will also serve as a facilitator for innovative partnerships with the private sector.

PCREEE will provide a host of support services for the region. Some early initiatives include the development of registries for data, products and training. The Centre will also support the Pacific Energy Regulators Alliance – a network of regulators that set the rules for the private sector investments and the prices / tariffs they will get in return. There are also plans to focus on women and energy – a critical gap in the current regional energy programme.

Tonga was chosen as the site for PCREEE from a consultative process and in recognition of the interest and support by the Government of Tonga in promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency.  PCREEE is based in Tonga but strongly connected to the Pacific Community (SPC) Energy programme and related effort of its sister regional organisations.