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Mr. Wus Blog on Sustainable Energy
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  • By UN-DESA on 21 Aug 2014
21 Aug 2014 - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently convened the Sustainable Energy for All Forum to help inspire and mobilize actions, partnerships and commitments in support of the three objectives of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative - (i) ensuring universal access to modern energy services; (ii) doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and (iii) doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. Several activities during the Forum are focused on meeting the energy challenges facing SIDS.

This is a very timely discussion. Indeed, energy has figured prominently during the preparatory processes for the SIDS Conference, both at the national, regional and global levels. With few exceptions, SIDS are highly dependent on imported fossil fuels for meeting energy needs, in particularly for electricity generation and for transport. Given their distance from global markets and their multi-island features, SIDS often face much larger transportation requirements as well as costs. Worldwide, transport is the fastest growing source of oil consumption; in the case of SIDS, despite efforts to improve energy efficiency, fuel needs for intra- and inter-island transport remain high; so do the costs.

In addition to compounding the difficulties of SIDS in advancing access to modern energy service for island populations, the high energy costs serve as a serious disincentive for foreign direct investment, further eroding the competitiveness of SIDS economies.

Wu Hongbo
UN DESAs Under-Secretary-General & Secretary-General for the Third International Conference on SIDS

As a consequence, SIDS dependence on fossil fuel imports has been growing, putting a significant strain on their foreign exchange earnings and public finance. On average, more than 90 percent of energy consumption in SIDS is met through oil imports, representing up to 20 percent of annual imports of SIDS, accounting for a large share of their foreign exchange earnings. In some SIDS, oil imports can cost up to 20 percent of their GDP. Their remote location adds to the transport costs. For example, the landed prices of oil products in Pacific SIDS are 200 to 300 percent higher than average international prices.

In addition to compounding the difficulties of SIDS in advancing access to modern energy service for island populations, the high energy costs serve as a serious disincentive for foreign direct investment, further eroding the competitiveness of SIDS economies.

In the deliberations on the SIDS Conference outcome document, Member States recognized that this dependence on fossil fuel imports is a major source of SIDS vulnerabilities. They highlighted efforts of SIDS to advance sustainable energy, including through the Barbados Declaration on Achieving Sustainable Energy for All in Small Island Developing States. They urged regional and international development banks, the UN system, the International Renewable Energy Agency, as well as developed partners, to intensify funding, capacity-building and technology support to SIDS in advancing sustainable energy objectives. I am confident that Member States will agree on a range of actions to support SIDS efforts on sustainable energy.