Energy and transport talks end on high note

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NUKU’ALOFA-April 28: 5pm (Nuku’alofa Times): The week-long 3rd Pacific Regional Energy and Transport Ministers’ Meeting ended in Nuku’alofa this afternoon with delegates and Ministers agreeing to push issues forward to the highest level possible.

The conference decided on issues that affects the region with the communique being finalised at this stage.

Chairman and Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister Hon Siaosi Sovaleni led the discussions on the last day today, helping Ministers and delegates go through the topics.

The Pacific Community will finalise the communique before that is released.

But the general consensus is for the issues to be taken to the highest levels, including the Pacific Leaders Forum in Samoa later this year.

Tongan Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva thanked the delegates and Ministers who made it to Tonga and said the Kingdom is proud to have hosted the high level meeting.

Energy and transport were the main focus, with Climate Change and the Paris Agreement as the hovering topics leading conversations.
Crown Prince’s call for action

Over 100 high-level delegates and experts  convened in Tonga for the Third Pacific Regional Energy and Transport Ministerial Meeting with a strong call for Affordable, Reliable and Sustainable Energy and Transport Services for All.

DPM Hon Sovaleni speaking at a press conference during the meeting. Photo: NUKU'ALOFA TIMES

DPM Hon Sovaleni speaking at a press conference during the meeting. Photo: NUKU’ALOFA TIMES

The high-level meeting, hosted by the Government of Tonga and the Pacific Community was preceded by a two-day officials meeting where they discussed energy and transport challenges and priorities for the region.

The two day deliberations had concluded with a set of resolutions put forward for their Pacific Ministers to consider and adopt.

Guest of Honour His Royal Highness Crown Prince Tupouto’a said: “The challenge for your meeting is to deliberate on measures that we can collectively carry out as a region, together with the support of our regional agencies, like SPC, and development partners in order to maximize the benefits from these development paradigms.”

“These are measures that would not only strategically position our region to play a bigger role and be recognized for our contribution at the world scale but it would also signal and support for ambitious and urgent global actions to save our planet,” he continued.

Deputy PrimeMinister, Minister forMinistry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. SiaosiSovaleni said: “The meeting is timely. Individually as sovereign nations, we have obligations to these global and regional instruments, but more importantly, to our own respective nationally determined contributions and government’s energy and transport targets and aspirations.”

“The meeting will therefore look at adopting regional positions, which we can task our regional agencies and partners to support us on, where we can go out to global forums and negotiations and promote with a united Pacific voice,” he concluded.

In his opening address Pacific Community Director-General Dr Colin Tukuitonga highlighted SPC’s contribution to Pacific Island energy and transport sectors, including the adoption uniform standards and governance tools for maritime safety and energy security.

Other important contributions he noted was supporting private sector and governments to improve safety at sea and access to electricity and training hundreds of professionals each year from governments, administrations and private sector.

And more recently, providing technical assistance for members to reduce greenhouse gas from the energy and maritime transport sectors.

He encouraged delegates that SPC will remain fully engaged, by your side, in both sectors, and is actively reforming its structure towards a more integrated approach in its areas of excellence.

The energy and transport ministers will consider resolutions from the two-day officials meeting, where they discussed, among other things, the Green and Blue Economy and challenges of accessing multilateral environment funding to support addressing the region’s energy and transport challenges.

As part of the week’s events, SPC together with its members and partners will celebrate its 70th Anniversary in Tonga with the inauguration of the Tonga-based Pacific Centre of Excellence on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (PCREEE) will also take place.

Regional strategy aims to ensure best service for all

The Pacific Regional Data Repository for Sustainable Energy for All (PRDR) Strategy 2018–2023 aims to ensure that the region is able to have affordable, reliable and sustainable energy and transport services for all.

Delegates at the meeting during the week at the Tanoa Hotel. Photo: NUKU'ALOFA TIMES

Delegates at the meeting during the week at the Tanoa Hotel. Photo: NUKU’ALOFA TIMES

Presented by the Pacific Community (SPC) at the Transport Sector side meeting at the Third Pacific Regional Energy and Transport Ministers’ meeting at the Tanoa Dateline International Hotel here in Nuku’alofa on Monday, the Strategy outlines the regional aim for the next six years.

The document was adopted at the meeting for discussion and endorsement by Energy and Transport Ministers at their meeting here in Nuku’alofa on Wednesday.

The PRDR originated from the first Pacific Leaders Energy Summit that was hosted by Tonga in 2013.

Leaders agreed to a regional effort designed to establish a one-stop shop for energy data and information in the Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) in order to support drafting of energy sector plans, formulation of energy policies and the evidence-based management of the sector.

The PRDR is to support these through collection and dissemination of primary data and past project reports and events and to minimise the time energy offices spend on replying to multiple requests for the same set of data and information.

The Second Regional Meeting of Pacific Ministers of Energy and Transport in 2014 supported the PRDR concept and agreed that SPC be the interim host of PRDR and a steering committee be established to oversee and guide SPC in the development of the PRDR.

In September 2014, the PRDR was launched at the Third SIDS Conference and was referred to by his excellence, Honourable Sialeʻataongo Tuʻivakanō, then the Prime Minister of Tonga as a fine example of a national priority getting elevated to be a regional priority.

In 2015, based on a recommendation from the fourth meeting of the steering committee, SPC became the permanent host of the PRDR.

To date, PRDR portal [http://prdrse4all.spc.int/homepage] contains over 1400 energy resources of which 1286 uploads captures reports and publications and around 148 uploads captures raw data set (85% national and 15% regional). The portal also stores workshop proceedings (53 contents) and project information (77 projects).

The development of the PRDR has been largely with SPC’s own resources through its collaboration with the Government of Australia and through support from the European Union Energy Initiative – Partnership Dialogue Facility.

As part of the effort to seek long-term funding support for the operational costs of the PRDR, the Government of Tonga together with the PRDR Steering Committee in 2014 sought assistance from the World Bank Group to review the PRDR funding proposal and recommend how to strengthen the PRDR initiative. SPC/ 2017 Energy & Transport Ministers Meeting Agenda Item E10 Original: English 2

From June 2015 to December 2016, the World Bank group provided technical assistance to SPC to support the development of the PRDR portal, support country consultation missions, support to a Joint SPC-APEC regional energy statistics and modeling workshop in Tonga and to prepare and adopt a 5-year strategy for the development of the PRDR. Such a regional strategy would then form a stronger platform for attracting funding support for this regional priority.

Highlights

The PRDR strategy captures the implementation mechanism including the financial plan for the PRDR over the next five years from 2018 to 2023.

The strategy targets three areas or components of development:

(i) Support to the regional PRDR team at SPC to manage the implementation of the PRDR efforts

(ii) Development of a regional data base

(iii) Support to national PRDR efforts and strengthening national capacity in data collection.

It is estimated that a budget of USD 6.075 million would be required for the implementation of the PRDR strategy.

Of this amount, 40% is for component 1, 3% is for component 2 and the bulk of (57%) is on-the-ground national activities in component 3. Details are available in the strategy document.

The PRDR strategy has been drafted and consultations with PICTs have been carried out in earlier regional events such as the Joint SPC-APEC Regional Workshop on Energy Statistics and Modelling in March 2016, the Energy Regulators Workshop in August 2016 and the Sixth Pacific Energy Advisory Group meeting in December 2016. The draft strategy has also been circulated to officials of member countries for their feedback in preparation for this meeting.

With the increasing demand from governments and development partners for evidence-based reporting, the reporting obligations of parties to the Paris Agreement as well as the reporting on the progress with the sustainable development goals, there is increasing pressure on the PRDR to deliver on its intended purpose and objectives.






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