Small islands put world’s biggest economies to shame on tackling climate change, launch renewables Hub

2 July 2014

LONDON: Reunion Island is now home to a renewable energy hub, which aims to bring small island states together to drive the sort of transformational low carbon growth that will put the world's biggest economies to shame.

The R20 Indian Ocean Renewables Hub was announced during a conference on Reunion Island, which is a member of The Climate Group with ambitious low carbon energy plans of its own. Partners of the Hub hope it will encourage knowledge sharing and attract funding for clean tech on the small islands. 

The conference, which took place from June 24-26 on the Indian Ocean island, had an impressive turnout of small island state leaders, who were keen to share their bold renewables and emission reduction targets.

Attendees included Nicolas Hulot who is the French President’s Special Envoy for the Protection of the Planet, Nico Barito representing the R20, Francois Fortier from the UN office for sustainable development, Jeffrey Skeer of IRENA, actress Melanie Laurent, and film director Cyril Dion. Didier Robert, President of the Regional Council of Reunion, Luc Bas, President of IUCN and Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group also led discussion.

After hearing from various leaders about the low carbon innovations and bold climate policies being implemented in their regions, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed to establish Reunion Island as the new R20 hub.

According to the agreement, the Hub will act as a regional center for innovative clean tech research and development, support green start-ups and organize training sessions around renewables and energy efficiency. It will also be used to identify clean tech projects for the Regional Council of Reunion and other Indian Ocean countries.

As part of the Hub, a portfolio of ‘bankable environmentally-friendly projects’ will be set up, along with work to develop funding plans and identify private investment for renewable energy in the Indian Ocean region.

The Climate Group is a supporting partner of the hub, along with nrg4SD. Libby Ferguson, States & Regions Director, The Climate Group, commented on the potential for small island states to lead and inspire action across the world: “The Climate Group is proud to be a supporting partner of the hub and recognizes the huge potential of ocean renewables to contribute to achieving the ambitious emission reductions targets that islands are setting. Reunion Island and others in the region are pioneers in demonstrating that low carbon transformation can be achieved through setting ambitious targets and putting the right strategies in place to achieve them.”

During the conference, gathered small island leaders also signed a Declaration of Intent, which affirms the island territories will collaborate on tackling climate change.

In the document they emphasize their extreme vulnerability to climate change as small islands, and lack of capacity to face the coming impacts. Following on from this, the agreement says the small island states are committed to:

  • Developing public policies that enable a transition to greater renewables use and improved energy efficiency.
  • Strengthening collaboration on an international and regional scale, including other islands and European outermost territories.
  • Sharing expertise on climate and clean energy issues to speed up solutions for all.

In the Declaration they iterate the importance of state and regional governments to enact real progress on curbing climate change, stating: “As the key delivery agents for change, sub-national governments play an essential role in the creation, implementation and effectiveness of climate actions.”

Work on the partnership will continue at the SAMOA SIDS conference this September, as well as at the International Conference on Biodiversity and Climate Change to be held in Guadeloupe in October. The document will then be ready to present as the Declaration of Islands on Climate Change at the global climate talks in Paris in 2015.

Read more about Reunion Island's low carbon plans

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