22 May 2012, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji
The Pacific now joins other regions of the world that have commemorated the United Nations (UN) declared International Year of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) through a regional roll-out event.
The Pacific roll-out of SE4All was held in Suva, Fiji on 18 May. It was a collaborative effort by national, regional and international agencies in the Pacific to mark the year and raise awareness of the importance of an energy-secure Pacific.
Energy security is important to the Pacific, where about seven million people out of the region’s ten million still do not have electricity. While more than 90% of households in the small island states and more than 80% in Polynesia have access to electricity, it is still below 30% in some of the larger and more populated Melanesian countries.
Moreover, the region continues to rely heavily on fossil fuel, which supplies about 95% of the region’s commercial energy needs. Not surprisingly, the cost of electricity is among the highest in the world. Total energy losses in some power utilities are as high as 25% and renewable energy opportunities and efficiency gains in the transport sector remain generally under-utilised.
The keynote address at the Pacific roll-out was delivered by His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, the President of the Republic of Fiji, a committed and strong advocate of green and sustainable development, who recently completed a 30 km walk in Suva in support of the Earth Hour initiative.
‘The situation is no longer confined solely to an energy security situation. Rather, it poses as an imminent threat to the security of our economy, our livelihood and our sovereignty as a nation,’ the President said.
‘The International Year of Sustainable Energy for All is, therefore, an opportunity for the region to take seriously the Forum Leaders’ vision for an energy-secure Pacific and join the world community in pursuing the three UN objectives to be achieved by 2030,’ he said.
The UN initiative to mobilise urgent global action calls for the achievement of the following complementary objectives:
ensure universal access to modern energy services;
double the rate of improvement in energy efficiency;
double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
Several key events were announced during the occasion. Winners of the SPC-organised regional school poetry and essay competition on SE4All were announced. Young Jin Choi of St. Nicholas High School, Solomon Islands won first prize in the essay competition and Jessica Parapolo of King George VI School, Solomon Islands won first prize in the poetry competition.
A research scholarship was awarded to Riyad Mucadam, a Marshall Islands national in the final year of a PhD programme in Applied Physics at Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. Riyad’s research will be an evaluation of the performance of the 1 MW Popua solar farm in Tonga.
At the Inaugural Regional Meeting of Ministers for Energy, ICT and Transport in 2011, Pacific energy ministers endorsed energy security indicators that will be used to measure where Pacific Island countries are in terms of energy security. SPC, with the financial support of the European Union Energy Initiative Partnership Dialogue Facility, has been working on establishing the baseline energy security indicators for its member countries and territories. The first in the series of 14 Pacific Island country energy profiles was Niue’s, and this was launched during the Pacific roll-out.
Also launched was the Certification and Accreditation Scheme for Technicians and Sustainable Energy Businesses developed by the Sustainable Energy Industries Association of the Pacific Islands and the University of the South Pacific. The scheme aims to increase the level of professionalism of people working in the Pacific energy sector.
Some Pacific Island nations have already made commitments to SE4All leading up to the Rio+20 conference, and there are plans to hold another similar, but bigger, event for the Pacific region after Rio+20.
For more information, contact Solomone Fifita, Deputy Director (Energy), Economic Development Division, SPC, Suva, Fiji (Tel.: +679 337 9413; email:
or Avnita Goundar, Information Officer, Economic Development Division, SPC, Suva, Fiji (Tel.: +679 337 9281; email:
(Photo caption: His Excellency, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, the President of the Republic of Fiji, is welcomed to the Pacific roll-out of SE4All by John Hogan (Director of SPC Economic Development Division) and Professor Susan Kelly (Deputy Vice-Chancellor of USP))