Pacific Energy Declaration signed at UN General Assembly

A pivotal, country-driven declaration affirming Pacific member States’ participation in the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4All) and the decision to establish a Pacific repository for energy data was signed by eleven Pacific heads of state and shared with the United Nations Secretary-General on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Speaking at the signing event in New York, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon emphasized sustainable energy as the golden thread that connects economic growth, social equity and sound environmental stewardship. “Sustainable energy is central to our collective efforts. This declaration is a powerful message to the world that the Pacific region is stepping up to the challenge.”

The Declaration on Establishing a Pacific Regional Data Repository for Sustainable Energy for All (PRDR for SE4All) is the culmination of nearly a year of consensus-building to enhance energy security in the Asia-Pacific region in the context of sustainable development. Pacific member States actively participated in a series of dialogues organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in the preparatory process for the Asian and Pacific Energy Forum (APEF) held earlier this year and in a project supported by the UN Development Account on increasing the affordability of sustainable energy options through South-South cooperation.

While there is considerable variation in terms of economies, levels of poverty, population and natural resources across the vast Pacific subregion, energy has long been recognized as a common challenge. The islands of the Pacific are almost completely dependent on fossil fuel imports: 95% overall. This dependency places a huge burden on national budgets and weakens countries’ ability to propel socioeconomic growth.

In order to improve the affordability of clean and sustainable energy services, the lack of quality, bankable data has been identified by the countries themselves as the number one hurdle to overcome.

During APEF - the first intergovernmental meeting in Asia and the Pacific of energy ministers held under the auspices of the UN - ministers and other heads of delegation from nine Pacific member States united in calling for a strong recognition of the Secretary General’s SE4All, the three global goals on access, efficiency and renewables, and the upcoming Decade on SE4All, 2014-2024. Furthermore, the need for improved data collection, analysis and statistics was raised for the entire Asia-Pacific region in the Ministerial Declaration, while in the APEF Plan of Action, 2014-2018, the Pacific member States drafted an action item on establishing a framework to have better access to quality energy data and information.

The new transnational energy data repository will be built on the collective political will of Pacific leaders to address the especially critical challenge of energy security in light of, among other realities, the region's vulnerabilities to climate change impacts. It is envisioned as an online searchable database of both raw, primary data and project information that will be sent directly to the repository from various sources in the Pacific island countries as well as the offices of development partners.

Some of the main expected benefits include expedited processes for project implementation due to readily available baseline data, systematic South-South cooperation and application of lessons learned, more resources available for capacity building and infrastructure, and, overall, a strengthened foundation for achieving sustainable energy for all, including tangible improvements in the affordability of energy at subregional, national and household levels.