The world is behind on the climate and sustainable development goals it set forth a decade ago, and energy-related goals are no exception. This week, the 2021 High-Level Dialogue on Energy’s Ministerial-level Thematic Forums are bringing together Ministers and other stakeholders to share experiences and discuss opportunities for scaling up action for SDG 7. SIDS continue to be trailblazer advocates as three out of the thirty Global Champions are hailing from SIDS, namely the Dominican Republic, Mauritius, and Nauru.
SIDS have made some very ambitious commitments in their Nationally Determined Contributions submissions last year and this year towards net-zero emissions, however, they are not facing the same conditions as other countries. Recognizing that SIDS face several obstacles to transform their energy sectors is essential to supporting their renewable energy transition, as stressed by H.E. Dr. Walton Webson Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations, Chair of AOSIS this morning.
These include the disproportionally high cost of renewable energy technology, the scarcity of public and private investment and scalability, and the continued subsidization of fossil fuel technologies. SIDS need concrete action to overcome these constraints which are exacerbated eligibility rules relevant to GDP. Instead, partners should support the SIDS by accommodating their special circumstances and simplifying procedures to facilitate access to finance. Many commitments were announced during the Ministerials so far, including UNDP's Energy Promise, which aims to increase access to clean and affordable energy for 500 million people and to support inclusive and green energy transition. As described by Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, “Equitable access to energy and decarbonization are the key drivers of how we need to think about energy in the future”.
Overall, the momentum displayed by stakeholders during the past three days and on the road to #HLDE2021 indicates that we have reason to remain optimistic about clean energy in 2021.
Keywords: renewable energy, energy transition, sustainable development, biodiversity, blue economy, climate action, digital transformation, ocean action, small-scale fisheries, livelihoods, adaptation, mitigation, flood forecasting, early warning system, tuna fisheries
The lull is carbon emissions due to the COVID-19 pandemic is well and truly over, as a recent statement from the NOAA deplores record high levels of CO2 emissions in May, averaging at 419 parts per million, the highest in 63 years and likely to have a “serious impact on oceans”. SIDS are no stranger to this emergency, and they have been ringing alarm sirens in international fora for the last decade. The science is clear on the matter: the ocean currently absorbs 23% of carbon dioxide in the air, thus, accelerating its acidification. It also absorbs roughly 90% of the excess heat, which increases the frequency of marine heatwaves. The temperature and acidity have increased to a degree that can potentially causes a collapse in the ecosystems and threatens the livelihoods of millions of people. For these levels to decline, the international community must act with urgency and ambition.
For SIDS possessing vast ocean territories, harnessing the opportunities of the Blue Economy paradigm is a mitigation strategy at the intersection of conservation and sustainable economic development and diversification. This paradigm is the utilization of ocean resources for human benefit in a manner that sustains the overall ocean resource base into perpetuity. As a frontier of the Blue Economy, the Seychelles laid out a concrete roadmap as a transition to a more integrated ocean-based economy, launching the world's first sovereign blue bond, exploring the ocean’s carbon offsetting capacity through Blue Carbon, and employing Blue Barriers to improve the resilience of its coasts. Similarly, lying at the heart of the Coral Triangle and occupying a marine environment of approximately 1.6 million square kilometers, Papua New Guinea in collaboration with UNDP is exploring financing models to help catalyze innovative blue solutions - starting with the potential of blue bonds in the country. This complements existing UNDP initiatives in Papua New Guinea including the design of a Blue Economy Enterprise Incubation Facility to accelerate sustainable livelihood opportunities linked to the marine environment. This all ascribes to the integrated nature of UNDP’s SIDS Offer and the work to propel the Blue Economy to prosperity, rooted in a commitment to the use of innovative blue financial instruments, such as the Global Fund for Coral Reefs.
Widespread flooding has inundated Guyana this month, with more than 6,900 households severely affected according to government estimates. Unfortunately, disasters of this kind are a frequent occurrence in SIDS, as they share common features such as a high ratio of coastline-to-land area, with large portions of populations, infrastructure, and assets being located along the coast. Many of these island nations are located in the tropics and subtropics, resulting in high exposure to various disasters such as tropical storms and flooding. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the drawbacks of the current development models, both globally and in the case of Latin America and the Caribbean. Now is the time to adopt a systemic approach to disaster risk in the Caribbean, as stated in the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) report.
In Dominica, the same initiative has strengthened the capacity of female farmers through one of the microfinance initiatives, that can assist in preparing for, mitigating against, and adapting to impending farm hazards, such as hurricanes, floods, and drought. Read more here
The digital focus of UNDP Guinea-Bissau for this coming year lies with the development of a roadmap on e-governance and digital transformation. And one of the aspects the country has yet to explore is the potential of digital transformation for improving the functioning of the State, the delivery of government functions, or the relation between citizens and state. UNDP has spearheaded an initiative to support the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in tapping into the potential of technology to improve its operations by connecting the diplomatic and consular corps and its delivery services to promote the country’s visibility and image all over the world. The initiative will ultimately support the Government in its strategic communication and engagement in international fora to safeguard their progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. On top of this, the country is widening its digital portfolio by exploring further initiatives such as the development of a feasibility study on the usage of drones in Guinea-Bissau, low-carbon bioenergy technologies, and the application of the Digital Readiness Tool in Guinea-Bissau. To better understand Guinea-Bissau's digital challenges, opportunities, and strengths, the country participated in a new rapid digital readiness assessment tool. This tool is part of the digital transformation pillar of the UNDP SIDS offer — Rising Up for SIDS— as a mechanism to help in developing national digital strategies with governments and key stakeholders, to achieve an inclusive digital transformation.
This piece is part of Guine-Bissau's newsletter. Access the full newsletter here.
This week, the future of a just and inclusive transition to renewable energy for the next decade is being discussed by Ministers and high-level stakeholders in the lead up to the High-Level Dialogue on Energy in September. According to recent reports, this is possible and achievable within the next nine years with the global push in ensuring ‘clean, affordable sustainable energy’ for all. Annual investments of around US$35 billion could bring electricity access for 759 million people who currently lack it, and US$25 billion a year can help 2.6 billion people gain access to clean cooking between now and 2030. Major Energy Compact commitments and partnerships for clean electricity access and cooking solutions are among those expected to be announced during the June Forums, which are co-hosted by 30 Global Champion countries. Today, Nauru has announced their ambitious energy compact, committing to 50% electricity generation from renewable sources, 30% improvement in energy efficiency (compared to the 2021 baseline), and the electrification of 20% of the vehicle fleet by 2030.
Further, the Dominican Republic, Mauritius and Nauru will spearhead advocacy and inspire commitments and action on the three of the five themes for the Dialogue — namely, innovation, technology and data, enabling SDGs through an inclusive, just energy transition and finance and investment. In order to achieve the SDGs and Paris Agreement targets, energy transition must become a transformational effort, a system overhaul, the proposed roadmap suggests. Furthermore, the roadmap also includes scaling up energy innovation and new technologies, and tripling of clean energy investment by 2030. The ambitious energy compacts are only the beginning, and more concrete actions at the High-level Dialogue on Energy are expected and certainly needed to get where we need to be by 2030.
Image: UNDP Mauritius
UNDP Spotlight: Financing Energy Projects in SIDS with the Climate Investment Platform
The Climate Investment Platform (CIP) and the Alliance of Small island Developing States (AOSIS) co-hosted a side event on the margins of the High-Level Dialogue on Energy Ministerial Forums earlier today, June 23, which was moderated by Ambassador Martin Bille Hermann, Permanent Representative of Denmark.
H.E. Dr. Walton Alfonso Webson, Ambassador of Antigua & Barbuda to the United Nations and Chair AOSIS, set the scene by succinctly describing the specific challenges facing the SIDS as they work towards fulfilling their ambitious carbon emissions and sustainable development targets. He described the three main challenges as being 1) the high cost of renewable energy technologies coupled with GDP-based eligibility rules; 2) the shortfall of public and private investment and the issues around access to financing by SIDS due to their scale; and 3) continued subsidization of fossil fuel technologies encouraging carbon transfers and leakages. These obstacles were echoed and elaborated on by H.E. Satyendra Prasad, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations, honing in on de-risking needs, the debt-to-GDP ratio and the debt burden SIDS bare, and the role different partners such as international financial institutions and the private sector in facilitating and supporting energy transition. Paul Makumbe, CEO of Sunergise, a pan-Pacific solar power utility, and representing the private sector, emphasized the need for simplifying procedures for investment. For her closing remarks, UNDP Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Director, Bureau for Program and Policy Support, Adriana Dinu emphasized the critical role of partnerships such as the CIP in mobilizing finance to achieve the energy access and transition goals, that will help ensure SIDS are not left behind.
Interested to learn more about financing energy projects in SIDS? Then watch the HLDE side event hosted by CIP and AOSIS here.
Recently, The Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) Initiative announced its plan to mobilize an additional US$ 28 million to deliver early warning systems in SIDS and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to protect lives and livelihoods from the impacts of severe weather events. Weather-related disasters have been detrimental to the sustainable development of many SIDS. The trend can, in part, be attributed to a low or basic capacity to use risk information and to provide early warning. Investments in disaster risk reduction, including early warning systems and adaptation measures for critical sectors, are essential for building resilient communities and facilitating sustainable development. The proposed CREWS Strategic Support Window will address emerging needs and deliver a flexible array of fully funded technical and knowledge services by experts and advanced national meteorological and hydrological agencies. This proposed new service will be available to countries by the end of the year. As of year-end 2020, CREWS projects covered 57 countries globally and the CREWS Trust fund has directly allocated more than US$ 51.5 million in project funding for country, regional and global projects. For example, in Papua New Guinea, the national meteorological and hydrological service is able to deliver timely and more accurate climate and weather information to people and better protect them from weather-related disasters. While across the Caribbean, key stakeholders including women organizations are now working together to bridge the gender divide in access to early warning systems.
Since the 1970s, the ocean has absorbed more than 90% of the heat gained by the planet. This has a range of impacts, including longer and more frequent marine heatwaves, coral bleaching, and providing an energy source for more powerful storms. The early victims of these impacts are three low-lying Pacific islands— Marshall Islands, Kiribati, and Tuvalu. Rising sea levels is one of the many ocean-driven security challenges faced by these nations. Unfortunately, recently published research shows that sea-level rise isn’t the only way the climate crisis will devastate the coast— it is also making waves more powerful, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere. Since at least the 1980s, more energy is being pumped into the oceans in the form of heat, thus the increase of global wave power, which results in more erosive energy potential for some coastlines of the world than before. In general, changes to wave conditions towards the equator are more driven by ocean warming from the human-caused climate crisis, whereas changes to waves towards the poles remain more impacted by natural climate variability. That is why mitigating greenhouse warming in line with the 2℃ Paris agreement is crucial as studies indicate that it is possible to keep changes in wave patterns within the bounds of natural climate variability. To address the challenges threatening the climate security of these Pacific islands, the UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund (PBF)-funded Climate Security in the Pacific project is taking decisive climate actions to secure the sustainable future of these islands. This initiative is implemented by UNDP and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), focused on Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, and Kiribati.
The multidimensional nature of SIDS' vulnerability exposes them to various exogenous shocks, worsened by the pandemic. According to the latest report published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), SIDS are at least 35% more vulnerable to financial and economic shocks than other developing countries. In the wake of the pandemic, SIDS experienced an estimated fall in GDP of 9% in 2020, compared with a 3.3% decline in other developing countries based on IMF projections data. The report serves as a useful analytical tool by offering a wide variety of statistics to examine these countries, covering aspects of trade, the economy, the environment and society. By consolidating and analyzing almost 20 years' worth of data, the report highlights pressing issues encountered by most SIDS due to their remoteness, further amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite their unique vulnerabilities, SIDS are pioneers in designing and implementing green financial instruments to bolster debt resilience, especially towards climate adaptation and mitigation. On another important note, SIDS are shown to rank above the global average on several social metrics. For example, 60% of SIDS receive a very high or high score in the Human Development Index. The report shows that data analytics can be an important driver of growth and a jumpstarter of the global economy, and by incorporating forward-looking analytics, the output can be converted from mere data for exploratory analysis into actionable insights.
Recognized as Large Ocean States, the ocean is vital to SIDS welfare and economic activities. However, the current ocean economy faces a large financial gap. This paper identifies key barriers to financing a sustainable ocean economy. It further suggests that mobilizing a full suite of financial approaches, influencing future mainstream finance, and creating long term and positive system change are key methods to propel a sustainable ocean economy.
Despite the low contribution to the global GHG emission, SIDS face the brunt of the climate crisis, threatening their biodiversity and vast marine resources. How can these nations safeguard biodiversity while mitigating and/or adapting to climate change? Read this publication that features various ocean-based initiatives that are built on ocean science.
The 25th episode of this podcast features stories of creative industries and creative people in contributing to economic growth and in solving societal problems by bulldozing across our beliefs! Join Nattu and our host Fathimath Lahfa to learn more about Nattu's journey in creating LottieFiles. website: lottiefiles.com
This publication intends to guide least developed countries (LDCs) and SIDS on accessing finance for the implementation of coastal and marine nature-based solutions to increase their resilience to extreme climatic events.
With the vast and diverse security infrastructure of the Pacific Island region, Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) leaders recognized that the region is facing ‘an increasingly complex regional security environment driven by multifaceted security challenges.’ This resource identifies and maps the various cooperative security agreements, arrangements and institutions between and among states and territories in the Pacific Islands region, and their partners.
The GBN Virtual Forum aims to promote dialogue and foster strong private sector collaboration on fisheries and aquaculture for the implementation of the S.A.M.O.A Pathway and the Sustainable Development Goals. In particular, focusing on resilience building and post pandemic recovery in the seafood industry in SIDS.
Community-led conservation of nature and particularly of coastal and marines areas is more important than ever as Small Island Developing States continue to lead advocacy and champion climate action. Join us in dialogue as we hear from three different UNDP GEF Small Grants Programassociations grantees exchange on their experience on the ground, the challenges they faced and the achievements they championed in SIDS.
This three-day global forum will bring together data scientists, analysts and researchers from marine research institutions and universities around the world to share their knowledge, skills and innovative ideas and discuss ways AI could help promote the use of knowledge to improve marine ecosystems management.
The Joint SDG Fund announces a call for proposals focusing on strengthening resilience and ending the vulnerabilities of SIDS to accelerate the SDGs. The overall funding envelope for this Call is US$30 million. All SIDS countries are eligible to receive funding, including countries previously funded in the Joint SDG Fund’s existing portfolios. Intended to be catalytic, funding will support targeting programmatic solutions of 2 years or less, with a budget of US$1 million per country. Multi-Country Offices will be eligible for funding envelopes corresponding to the countries and populations they serve and be reviewed on case by case basis.
The International Seabed Authority (ISA) launched the Secretary-General’s Award for Deep-Sea Research Excellence which recognizes and encourages the achievements of young researchers from developing countries who have made outstanding contributions to the advancement of scientific knowledge of the deep-sea environment, or to the development of environmentally sustainable regulatory frameworks. Nominations and applications must be supported by two sponsors and should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than July 15, 2021. The name of the awardee will be announced on July 24, 2021.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) are accepting nominations for the 2021 Pathfinder Award. This award seeks initiatives focused on sites with innovative, integrated approaches to protected and conserved area management that successfully conserve nature while making development gains related to1) human health, 2) climate change mitigation and adaptation, and 3) sustainable land management. Four award winners will receive a financial grant of US$ 10,000 and a plaque and certificate of achievement, promotion and visibility, and an invitation to the awards ceremonies. The call accepts nominations in English, French, and Spanish. The deadline of the nomination is July 15, 2021.
The Joseph Jaworski Main Award recognizes an individual or a team (up to five people) that is shaping the future of their community or field. The candidate/s must be using innovative approaches, bringing fresh ideas and inspiration, and be able to showcase their impact. In addition, the candidate/s must be committed to putting people at the heart of the future, with a focus on impact and purpose. Winner receives a USD 10,000 prize to support their project and attendance at the SOIF Summer Retreat. The deadline of application is June 30, 2021.
Greening the Islands (GTI) launches the 7th edition of GTI Awards, which aims to gather good practices and innovations on islands to give them public visibility globally and foster their replication. The GTI Awards will recognize the best projects on energy, water, mobility, waste, agriculture, sustainable tourism, and governance & inclusion. Submission is open until October 1, 2021.