“Renewable Energy for Islands”
Sustainable Energy for All Forum (SE4ALL)
Remarks by: H.E. Dr. Hussain Niyaaz
Additional Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Maldives
New York, 21 May 2015
Excellencies, Distinguished Colleagues,
At the outset, I would like to thank Dr Kandeh Yumkella, Under-Secretary-General and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All for his leadership and in organizing this important event.
Small Island Developing States such as the Maldives have traditionally been highly dependent on fossil fuels for our energy needs particularly for providing basic services such as transport and electricity for the population. This is incredibly costly and unsustainable in the long term; in the Maldives, for example, we are currently spending 25% of the GDP on importing fossil fuels.
Unless there is a substantial partnership created to high yielding technologies, we would not be able to reduce this overreliance on fossil fuels. There needs to be increased financing dedicated for investment in modern and reliable sources of renewable energy as well as the transfer of technology. We have to maximise capacity building and effective mechanisms for transfer of modern energy technology while taking into account the inherent challenges of SIDS in attracting direct investment. Geographical limitations, dis-economies of scale in production, and low cost recovery prospects in SIDS pose special challenges, demanding individualized and customized facilities to generate energy to meet their demands.
Governments need to adopt policies that will promote the use of renewable energy sources while ensuring universal access to clean, reliable and affordable modern energy services. These policies should also eradicate barriers and facilitate investments. There needs to be further regional coordination to address the issues arising from geographical isolation. Sharing experiences and knowledge is essential for the formulation and implementation of national, regional and interregional energy policies.
There also needs to be a dramatic shift to renewable energy in the global energy mix. This is an undisputed fact, which has been reaffirmed in the multiple tracks of critical negotiations that are taking place this year including climate change, formulation of the Post 2015 Development Agenda and Financing for Development. Global warming and its implications which have resulted from increased greenhouse gas emissions from the use of fossil fuels not only hinder the development of SIDS but threaten our territorial integrity.
It is critical to ensure that the Goal on Sustainable Energy (Goal 7) is strongly supported through adequate means of implementation. All potential sources of renewable energy such as wind, sustainable biomass, solar, hydroelectric, biofuel and geothermal energy must be explored and utilized as far as is feasible. Undoubtedly, an all-inclusive approach which involves the governments, the private sector and civil society is essential to advance this goal.
Sustainable energy for all is essential for strengthening economies, eliminating poverty, protecting ecosystems, and achieving a more equitable society. The Maldives realises not only the economic benefits of switching to renewable energy, but also that it will establish energy security for the future. The Maldives currently has several ongoing solar power pilot projects, incorporating the private and government sector. There are also plans to implement policies to increase energy efficiency, and reduce the demand for electricity to compliment the transition to renewable energy. We are determined to set an example to the rest of the world by adopting ambitious climate change mitigation measures, despite our limited capacity and resources, and increasing resilience. Renewable energy is not an option but the only way to ensure green economy and sustainable development for small island developing states