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IRENA and Pacific Community list joint efforts to boost post-pandemic recovery  

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Pacific Community (SPC) will work together to support Pacific island countries transition their energy systems to renewable energy sources as part of a drive to support the coronavirus (COVID-19) post-pandemic recovery. The two organizations will work closely to enhance policy, support project development, and attract investments to the Pacific island countries.  

With around 64 percent of Pacific island residents living without access to reliable energy and much of the region reliant on expensive and volatile fossil fuel imports, IRENA and SPC will renew their joint focus on reducing energy costs and improving energy security by increasing access to renewables. The partnership will also seek to deliver the broad socioeconomic benefits of the energy transformation for Pacific island communities (photo courtesy IRENA).

Strengthening policy frameworks, attracting energy transformation investments, and supporting project development aimed at driving this shift are of particular focus.

IRENA has prioritized energy diversification efforts on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) as part of its UN Climate Action Summit commitment and its SIDS Lighthouses initiative has been recognized by the UN as an important catalyst for SIDS development.

Pacific Islands are battling the adverse impacts of two major threats to stability and prosperity; the COVID-19 Pandemic and a warming planet. We can take meaningful action to address both of these threats if our efforts are coordinated, collaborative, and far-sighted. Central to efforts must be the prioritisation of a decarbonised and decentralised energy system. By working together we can make a sustainable future a reality for the Pacific Islands, said Francesco La Camera, Director-General, IRENA.

Pacific economies have been significantly impacted by the pandemic, resulting in job loss in the tourism and aviation sectors – primary contributors to regional gross domestic product (GDP).

Through this partnership, we are demonstrating our common commitment to supporting low-cost, reliable, and sustainable energy systems throughout the region. Renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives will stimulate economic growth, create jobs, and contribute to a brighter future for all Pacific people, said Dr Stuart Minchin, Director-General, SPC.

Three work pathways

Recognizing renewable energy’s ability to stimulate economic growth, cut energy costs, and create local employment, IRENA and SPC have determined three transformative pathways that can catalyze the transition towards a more resilient, renewables-based energy system.

The first pathway will focus on creating effective national and regional energy policies, plans, legislation, and regulations. IRENA and SPC are already working closely with Pacific Island countries to develop renewable energy guidelines, enhance Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), and provide implementation support. SPC in collaboration with PRIF and other partners is currently developing the Framework for Energy Security and Resilience in the Pacific (FESRIP) 2021-2030, of which the Pacific SIDS has set a vision of 100 percent renewable electricity.

SPC and IRENA will also work together to support the development and implementation of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as tourism, agriculture-food production, and fisheries.

This second transformative pathway will support game-changing renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that create jobs, substitute imported fuels, and add value. Examples include e-mobility and solar PV projects.

The third area of cooperation between the two organizations will focus on attracting investments to the Pacific SIDS. IRENA’s calculations estimate that the Pacific will need to invest approximately US$5.9 billion in driving this transition by installing an additional 1.8 GW to meet NDC targets.

This will be supported through sustainable financing between project developed and investors to drive these priorities throughout this agreement.

SPC will host a dedicated IRENA-Pacific focal point to facilitate the implementation of the collaboration.

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