Greening the Islands Foundation

SIDS4: GTI Foundation Calls for Setting 100% Renewables as a Priority for Islands Over the Next Decade

GTI Foundation hosted a successful side event co-organised with UN DESA and the Government of Tonga, launched the GTI Sofa with interventions of Mia Mottley and Francesco La Camera

Greening the Islands (GTI) Foundation took active part in the 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4), held on 27-30 May 2024 in Antigua and Barbuda. The conference represents a crucial milestone for setting the next decade’s course of action for small island developing states on a pathway to adaptation and resilience. The four days were marked by several significant activation moments and engagements.

SIDS4 aims at charting small islands’ course toward resilient prosperity originating an intergovernmentally agreed, action-oriented, political outcome document. GTI Foundation issued an official input document recommending the outcomes recognise the pivotal role of renewable energy in the sustainable development of small islands and support greater ambition. In particular, it called upon sending a clear signal to the world by prioritising with clear and sound language the transition to fully renewable energy systems as a vital action for islands over the next decisive decade.

Gianni Chianetta, Chair of GTI Foundation, addressed the Interactive Dialogue “Revitalizing SIDS Economies for Accelerated and Sustainable Growth” and the Private Sector Roundtable (following his intervention in the Global Business Network Forum, that took place ahead of SIDS4) on 28 May, emphasising small islands’ potential in leading the transition to 100% renewable energy, which is essential for their economic revitalization and resilience to climate change and external shocks. He called for enhanced multistakeholder cooperation, involving local and international private sectors, as crucial for driving investment and innovation.

On 29 May, Chianetta was invited to participate as a speaker in the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) side event “Transforming SIDS Economies through Energy Transition and Climate Action towards Prosperity, Resilience and Sustainable Development”, joining high-level government representatives from several island states. He reiterated how SIDS are uniquely placed to showcase the technical and economic viability of 100% renewable energy systems and ensure their sustainability, originating replicable and scalable models that can guide global change.

GTI Foundation’s side event “Small Islands Leading the Energy Transition: Roadmaps to 100% Renewables”, co-organised with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), took place on 29 May. The event was opened by Li Junhua, Under-Secretary-General DESA and Secretary-General SIDS4 Conference. Gianni Chianetta presented developed roadmaps to 100% renewables for Curacao and Rodrigues, part of the GTI 100% RES Islands Initiative.

The first session, moderated by Sai Navoti, Chief of the SIDS Unit UNDESA, focused on the challenges and the projects needed to help small islands achieve the transition to renewable energy. The panellists H.E. Ruisandro Cijntje, Minister of Economic Development, Government of Curaçao, Responsible for the energy transition; H.E. Viliami Va’inga Tōnē, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Tonga to the UN; Ravi Shankar Sonea, Permanent Secretary, Environment and Climate Change Division, Ministry of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change, Government of Mauritius; and Arieta Gonelevu Rakai, Regional Programme Officer, Islands, IRENA, explored the necessary steps to empower islands as testbeds for accelerated energy transition.

The second session focused on how to unlock finance for islands to accelerate progress and deploy green investment projects, at public and private level. The panellists H.E. Thoriq Ibrahim, Minister of Climate Change, Environment and Energy Maldives; Francesco Corvaro, Special Envoy for Climate Change, Italy; Celeste Connors, Co-Chair Local2030 Islands Network; Neha Mukhi, Senior Energy Specialist World Bank; Roderick Gordon, Founder & Managing Director CERRA; and Gianmarco Litterio, RE International Development Blusolar, discussed the key barriers to accessing finance for islands around the world, exploring the priority actions governments, investors, financial institutions and other stakeholders need to undertake to unlock larger and varied financial resource inflows. The event was closed by Henk Rogers, Founder of Blue Planet Alliance, partner of the GTI 100% RES Islands Initiative.

As emerged from the debates, despite their promising potential, progress in SIDS is slowed by long-term PPAs and cost compensation systems with traditional energy service providers, lack of appropriate policies promoting innovative technologies, complex authorisation processes, and limited access to finance, including high cost of debt and inadequate financing mechanisms. To upscale small islands’ adaptation efforts and accelerate the energy transition, guarantee mechanisms and multistakeholder cooperation, with active involvement of the local and international private sector at the decision-making tables, are crucial.

Furthermore, the GTI Sofa, a new platform dedicated to interviews and reflections with global leaders of the islands’ sustainable transition, was launched at SIDS4 in partnership with UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UNOHRLLS), Blue Planet Alliance, The Environmental Awareness Group – Antigua & Barbuda, Global Island Partnership, Local2030 Islands Network, Peace Boat US.

For the entire duration of the conference, the GTI Sofa hosted policymakers, industry leaders, and institutions committed to brightening the islands’ future, to amplify perspectives and experiences from diverse stakeholders. Illustrious guests included Hon. Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, and Francesco La Camera, Director-General IRENA, among others. Videos of interviews and statements are available on the GTI Foundation website and YouTube page.

Greening the Islands Foundation looks forward to continuing cooperation with islands and partners towards 100% renewables, in the lead up to New York Climate Week 2024 and COP29.

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