Pacific Leaders Energy Summit Opens In Tonga

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IRENA says Tonga shows leadership in alternative energy

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, March 21, 2013) – A two-day Pacific Leaders Energy Summit started in Nuku'alofa today, with eight leaders sharing experiences, while coming up with models to develop the usage of renewable energy in the Pacific.

The summit at the Fa'onelua Convention Centre, is timely as it is held ahead of a Pacific Energy Summit in Auckland on March 24-26, where Pacific Islands will have the opportunity to present their energy plans and seek donor support for their projects.

Leaders included the Cook Islands Prime Minister, Hon. Henry Puna; the President of the Federated States of Micronesia, Hon. Emanuel Mori; the President of Kiribati, Hon. Anote Tong; the Tuvalu Prime Minister, Hon. Willie Telavi; the Samoan Prime Minister, Hon. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi; the Niue Premier, Hon. Toke Talagi; with the Tongan Prime Minister Lord Tu'ivakano. Also attending were development partners, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Director-General Mr. Adnan Z. Amin, and the New Zealand Foreign Minister, Hon. Murray McCully.

Energy Security

Tonga's Prime Minister Lord Tu'ivakano said they were to share experiences and plan a united front to face the common problem of energy security and affordability in the region, as people were subjected daily to the hardship imposed by the volatility of the international energy market.

He said leaders in the 2010 Forum meeting called upon its member countries to develop an energy road map as a whole sector approach toward improving energy security, sustainability and accessibility in the region. Tonga with its development partners, invited leaders to share and create ideas together at this summit.

He said the Tonga Energy Road Map (TERM) progress would not have come far if it was not for the assistance of its development partners, and it had made significant progress in moving Tonga forward in the energy agenda.

Energy and renewable energy have been identified as a core requirement for development. Some observers had even declared there was no sustainable development without sustainable energy. "The challenge before us is of immense importance and one that has significance and long term implications for our people," he said.

Lord Tu'ivakano said this summit could be seen as the Pacific's support to the UN Secretary General's declaration of sustainable energy for all in 2014-24. Tonga's Energy Road Map model was presented to participants as a credible model sector approach to energy development.

Tongan leadership in renewable energy

Meanwhile, IRENA Secretary-General Amin told Matangi Tonga the summit is highly significant as it brings together Pacific leaders to discuss a renewable energy future for the region.

"Tonga's hosting of the event is a demonstration of the leadership it has played in renewable energy in the region," he said.

Through the work done by IRENA they had seen tremendous opportunity afforded to the Pacific region. "Leaders are 100 percent committed to the target of renewable energy and I think this is the beginning of a new movement hopefully towards transforming to a renewable future," he said.

"It is our hope at the end of this summit we will achieve a much stronger political commitment in the Pacific to move in the direction. We hope that by bringing major development partners and donors to the table will bring together the political momentum, operational capacity and the knowledge available towards chartering a concrete plan of action for the future in terms of renewable energy in the Pacific."

Mr. Amin said the Pacific Energy Summit in New Zealand next week was also equally important.

"A lot of development partners will be there, and we expect a number of concrete pledges following up from this meeting of projects to be financed. This meeting is to build the political momentum before moving into an operational plan at the summit in New Zealand," he said.

The Pacific Leaders Energy Summit is hosted by the Tongan Government and its development partners.

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