UN supports sustainable energy in Pacific through high quality data repository

The Pacific Regional Data Repository (PRDR) was the central topic of a side event hosted by the government of Tonga at the 3 rd International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Apia, Samoa this week.

Prime Minister of Tonga, Mr. Siale ʻ ataongo Tu ʻ ivakanô highlighted the role and significance of the PRDR in the energy transformation of SIDS, saying he appreciated the lead role of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in conceptualizing and supporting the development of the PRDR.

The PRDR is designed to provide a platform for countries to share energy data as well as policy and project information to enable formulation of better policies and strategies in the energy sector. It is a user-friendly,accurate and comprehensive online energy database of both raw and processed information.

Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary said that the PRDR has to be seen as one of the integral elements of the United Nations Secretary General’s initiative Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All).”

“The way the PRDR has been designed and implemented is a role model for other partnerships as it has resulted in not only development of a key tool for energy security and policy making in a collaborative manner, but has also resulted in early transfer of ownership for its implementation and running to the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.”

Despite the central importance of energy security, including access, affordability and the need for the right energy mix, it remains a formidable challenge in Pacific SIDS. Going forward, there was a broad recognition among participants of the dialogue on PRDR that there is need to reduce the high dependence on diesel-fuelled electricity generation with renewable energy.

Access to electricity, even in the larger and more populated Pacific island countries of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, is only 15 per cent, 19 per cent and 24 per cent respectively, compared to an average for the smaller countries of around 70 per cent.

In her statement, Dr. Akhtar highlighted that: “The Pacific dependence on imported fossil fuel for energy is a large drain on financial resources in the Pacific, as in some countries, the oil import bill is equivalent to an average of 20 per cent of GDP and larger than some countries export revenues – this complicates macroeconomic management for SIDS.”

At the first Asian and Pacific Energy Forum (APEF), convened by ESCAP in the Russian Federation last year, Pacific countries emphasized the need to develop a comprehensive data repository for the Pacific, in supporting evidence-based policy formulation rather than continuing with isolated renewable energy projects in meeting development needs.

“ESCAP has a strong interest in supporting our member States, especially our SIDS, with better and more accessible data, which we believe will help address many of the remaining challenges,” said Dr. Akhtar. “Quality, timely and accessible data underpins effective policy development.”

Development of the PRDR will help strategize SE4All. The goals of SE4ALL, as outlined in the Secretary’s General’s initiative established in 2011 are to: seek to achieve universal access to modern energy services, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030 in order to spur economic growth, and address global inequalities and preserve the environment.

There was a wide appreciation of the PRDR and role of ESCAP in building this knowledge hub at the side event and also the tangible and qualitative contribution it brings to energy security in the Pacific.

The 3 rd International Conference on Small Island Developing States is being held from 1 to 4 September 2014 in Apia, Samoa. The conference aims to focus the world’s attention on a group of countries that remain a special case for sustainable development in view of their unique and particular vulnerabilities.

For more information about the PRDR visit: http://www.unescap.org/resources/brochure-pacific-regional-data-repository-prdr-se4all