BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE
A global gathering of islands numbering 48, convened by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in co-operation with the Government of Malta, has pushed for a move from dependence on fossil fuels to renewable sources to ensure a safer and more prosperous future.
At the meeting called on 6-7 September 2012, the island states called for sustainable development based on renewable sources and technologies.
The 130 participants including 15 at ministerial level, along with representatives from the private sector, discussed the expansion of renewable energy deployment to ensure a safer and more prosperous future.
At the two-day conference, ministers and representatives of the island countries and territories, resolved to build on the outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development two months earlier.
Speaking at the conference, Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA Director-General, said islands could learn from each other’s experiences in solving energy problems and also show the way for the rest of the world to make the transition from unsustainable fossil-fuel dependence.
“Most islands around the world today depend for the majority of their energy needs on imported fossil fuels, which are expensive at the best of times and subject to drastic price fluctuations,” he said.
Adnan Z. Amin added; “At the same time, we have found examples where island states have decisively overcome particular energy challenges by turning to renewables.”
According to him, comparative isolation, small market size, and reliance on fuel imports, leave islands highly exposed to global economic fluctuations, adding, Small Island Developing States (SIDS), such as those in the Pacific, Indian Ocean and Caribbean are particularly vulnerable.
The island ministers and representatives, for their part, agreed that increased use of renewable sources and technologies would strengthen energy security, generate employment and boost social and economic well-being.
Renewable energy, including solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and ocean energy, as well as biofuel, can be generated locally, with solutions tailored for the circumstances of each island, they opined.
This is notwithstanding the fact that many non-island states also share similar energy challenges.
To deal with this, the IRENA Director-General said; “Islands therefore can establish the practices that are needed for the global energy industry in the years and decades ahead.”
Mr. Amin expressed his hope that the two days of discussions in Malta would be followed by practical actions to deploy renewable energy more widely, while admitting that the Rio+20 Conference, held in June in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, provided “an internationally agreed enabling platform for action on renewable.”
Meanwhile, the UN Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All (“SE4ALL”) initiative launched this year, calls for doubling the share of renewables in global energy by 2030.
IRENA, an intergovernmental organisation established with its headquarters in Abu Dhabi in 2009, and which currently has 100 member states and the European Union, as well as 58 signatories/applicants for membership, promotes the increased adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy worldwide.