Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Samoa was well represented at the 9th annual Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the intergovernmental organization comprising 160 member countries that supports governments in their transition to a sustainable energy future, held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates from 10-13 January 2019.
The Samoa delegation was led by Honourable Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources and Environment. She was accompanied by Samoa’s Ambassador to Japan who is also Samoa’s Ambassador to IRENA, Her Excellency Fa’alava’au Perina Sila-Tualaulelei and Mrs Vanda Faasoa-Chan Ting, Assistant Chief Executive Officer (ACEO) of the Renewable Energy Division of MNRE.
The 9th Assembly was attended by more than 1,200 delegates that included heads of state/government from more than 160 countries, international organizations, private sector and civil society, for discussions and cooperation on accelerating renewable energy deployment towards achieving sustainable development goals and global climate objectives.
The Assembly undertook the election of a new Director-General to replace outgoing Director-General His Excellency Mr Adnan Amin who has been at the leadership of the Agency for the last 8 years. Mr Francesco La Camera of Italy obtained overwhelming support of members and will be Director General from April 2019. Samoa remained deeply engaged in the selection process including through its role as Chair of the IRENA Council.
A SIDS High Level meeting was also held prior to the Assembly for dedicated discussions on accelerating SIDS’ energy transition. In her statements in the Assembly and in the SIDS High level meeting, Honourable Fiame emphasized the importance of political commitment and national ownership, coupled with durable and genuine partnerships in renewables which support the implementation of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMA), which are aligned with the 2030 Agenda, Paris Agreement and SAMOA Pathway. Honourable Fiame said that climate change is the single greatest threat to SIDS and that there is an urgency to take effective action immediately to mitigate against the adverse climate change impacts. Energy transformation in SIDS is therefore a critical pathway to enhancing sustainable development and climate resilience. Honourable Fiame was also invited as a panel member on the special event titled “Gender in the Energy Transformation” where the participation of females is encouraged in the energy sector to further drive the acceleration of renewable energy globally.
Honourable Fiame on behalf of all the SIDS leaders, presented the SIDS Ministerial high- level report to the general assembly with the following recommendations:
- SIDS Heads of States and governments all agreed that NOW is the time to IMPLEMENT tailored solutions;
- In order to accelerate energy transformation in SIDS, there is a need to intensify technical advisory services, capacity building, strengthened technical training and institutional development that are specific to the unique challenges faced by SIDs;
- It is essential to further support access to finance as well as the development of bankable projects;
- The work on end use solutions, most notable transport, has to be an integral part of the IRENA Lighthouse Initiative 2.0 especially as it embarks on this new phase;
- Durable and genuine partnerships, tangible investments in renewables in SIDS and synergies with other platforms must be encouraged;
- Closer relationship with the private sector, reinforcing the multi-sectoral importance of renewable energy on agriculture, tourism, health, water and food;
- The need for inter- SIDS cooperation was also underscored, and peer-to-peer learning and continued dialogue should be promoted;
- Public education and awareness on RE technology; 9. The deployment of renewable energy is vital in advancing SIDS’ economic, social and environmental priorities and we call on partners to support SIDS in meeting these multiple objectives.
The 10th IRENA Assembly will be held in Abu Dhabi 10-13 January 2020. The incoming president would be Uganda and the four Vice Presidents would be Samoa, Burkina Faso, Luxembourg and El Salvador.
L-R: Excellency Fa’alava’au Perina Sila-Tualaulelei, Honorable Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and Vanda Fa’asoa – Chan Ting