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International Day Of Clean Energy: Illuminating Pathways To A Sustainable Future

An Op-Ed by Iris-Cordelia Rotzol, Regional Pacific NDC Hub Project Manager

As the world celebrates the International Day of Clean Energy on January 26, it is a poignant moment to recognize the pivotal role played by the Regional Pacific NDC Hub in charting a course towards a sustainable and resilient future for the Pacific Island nations.

The Pacific Islands, bearing witness to the harsh realities of climate change, understand all too well the urgency of transitioning to clean energy. Rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and environmental shifts have made the need for transformative action glaringly evident. In the face of these challenges, the Regional Pacific NDC Hub stands as a beacon of hope, working tirelessly to support Pacific Island nations in their quest for a just and inclusive transition to clean energy.

Clean energy is not merely a global aspiration; it is a lifeline for the Pacific Island nations. The Hub's commitment to assisting member countries, including Cook Islands, Fiji, and Vanuatu, among others, in reviewing, enhancing, and implementing their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) is a testament to its dedication to the well-being of these unique island communities.

The International Day of Clean Energy serves as a timely reminder that clean energy is not just about reducing emissions; it is about empowering communities and ensuring access to reliable power sources. In the Pacific, people still live without adequate access to electricity, the connection between clean energy, socio-economic development, and environmental sustainability is more critical than ever.

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The lack of reliable power in these regions hampers education, healthcare, and economic opportunities. Many communities still rely on polluting fossil fuels for their daily needs, perpetuating a cycle of poverty. The Regional Pacific NDC Hub's initiatives become even more crucial in this context, guiding Pacific Island nations towards a low-carbon development pathway that safeguards both their people and their ecosystems.

Administered by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and implemented in collaboration with partners including the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), the Pacific Community – SPC, and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), the Hub exemplifies the power of collaboration in addressing complex global challenges.

Crucially, the NDC Hub stands as a testament to the generosity of its donors – the European Union, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) of Germany, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of Australia, and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) of New Zealand. Their support enables the Hub to mobilize a wide range of resources and expertise, providing Pacific Island nations with the means to build a sustainable and resilient future.

The NDC Hub has demonstrated its impactful support across various Pacific Island nations. Through collaboration with the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), the Hub has successfully identified a substantial combined investment of 2.3 Billion USD in Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Kiribati, and Fiji. This financial support plays a pivotal role in helping these countries attract the necessary resources to fulfill their ambitious mitigation targets and amplify clean energy projects. Additionally, the Hub's efforts extend to updating the Marshall Islands' National Energy Policy & Energy Action Plan through the Pacific Community (SPC), facilitating coordinated actions to enhance clean energy supply to the population. Furthermore, the NDC Hub has championed the implementation of robust measurement, verification, and reporting (MRV) systems in eight countries. Specifically focusing on the Cook Islands, Marshall Islands, and Niue, with support from GIZ, these activities aim to enhance MRV in the energy sector, guiding targeted steps for the implementation of future energy projects. Notably, in Samoa, the NDC Hub, in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), is actively supporting an Energy Efficiency Program for the Tourism Sector, contributing to increased access to clean and efficient energy within the sector. These initiatives collectively underscore the NDC Hub's commitment to fostering sustainable and resilient energy practices across the Pacific.

Yet, the road ahead is not without challenges. The world is not currently on track to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) by 2030. The upcoming Global Stocktaking on SDG7 in April 2024 provides an opportunity to assess progress and recommend strategies for course correction. The Pacific NDC Hub's continued efforts will contribute towards the Pacific’s ambitious efforts to ensure clean energy access to people and communities across the region and influencing positive change.

Furthermore, The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH strengthening their existing cooperation. On 23rd September 2021, IRENA and GIZ signed a cooperation agreement to further increase common engagement. Main areas of cooperation are the promotion of the energy transition, supporting investment in renewable energy and a global green economy in pursuit of promoting sustainable development.

Another important emphasis will be on advancing energy planning in support of clean energy transition. Investment in the energy sector has long-ranging consequences. Having a robust, long-term energy scenario based on planning is critical, also to seize opportunities and avoid potential risks. Planning the energy transition brings socio-economic benefits, reduces costs, and can unlock innovation and investment. Under the current network for long-term energy scenarios, IRENA and GIZ will support countries in building up and strengthening local skills. The collaboration will also support the dissemination of best practices among national energy planning practitioners.

As we mark the International Day of Clean Energy, let us commend the Regional Pacific NDC Hub for its unwavering commitment. It is a commitment that goes beyond reducing emissions; it is about lighting up the lives of those in the Pacific, ensuring access to clean, reliable, and sustainable energy for generations to come. The Hub is not just a facilitator of change; it is a catalyst for a brighter, more sustainable Pacific future.

About the Regional Pacific NDC Hub

The Regional Pacific NDC Hub is a collaborative initiative that supports 14 Pacific Island Countries in implementing their climate commitments outlined in their own Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Guided by the Paris Agreement, funded by the Governments of Germany, Australia New Zealand and the European Union, the Hub fosters knowledge exchange, resource sharing, and capacity building to accelerate climate action and it promotes sustainable development across the Pacific region. Visit https://pacificndc.org/ for more information about the Regional Pacific NDC Hub.

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