NUKU’ALOFA-April 24: 3.43pm (R2R NEWS): The Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Siaosi Sovaleni this morning challenged regional reps attending the Third Pacific Regional Energy and Transport Ministers’ meeting here in Nuku’alofa to see if we can work together as a region to finalise proposals that would help the region.
Speaking as Chief Guest at the official opening at the Tanoa Dateline International Hotel, Hon Sovaleni said the officials’ meeting is important as proposals and recommendations taken would be discussed by Ministers at the regional meeting that opens on Wednesday.
“Are we able together to contribute to international negotiations and ensure that there is special consideration from the international community to SIDS and LDCs in which is translated in to genuine and sustainable partnerships?,” Hon Sovaleni asked.
“It is an opportunity to reassess our approach to low carbon and resilient development. Perhaps, we have been focusing too much on the efficiency on the power sector that it is high time that we give energy efficiency in transport a chance, after all, it is the sector that consumes most of the fossil fuel imported into the region.”
Hon Sovaleni said that the region faces unique challenges in terms of geography, size of population and economies, adding that the region’s joint and collective effort with regional actions that support our national development priorities and strategies is the most effective response to receiving support from the international community.
The last three years marked a historical shift in the dynamics of the global effort on sustainable development and poverty eradication, more particularly for SIDS.
In 2014, the SIDS Conference in Samoa emphasized that durable and genuine partnerships are vital for the sustainable development effort of small island countries such as ours.
In 2015, the adoption of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) binds everyone to work towards common goals and targets and emphasized not to leave anyone behind.
“As Small Islands Developing States, including some Least Development Countries, we have committed to face those challenges and turn them in development opportunities to achieve the SDGs,” Hon Sovaleni said.
“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is our common roadmap and all sectors in our economies have committed to their achievement. We also have an obligation to ensure we are able to implement good governance Energy and Transport sectors, as key drivers of our economies, need to create the conditions for better quality of life.
“This means providing reliable and sustainable transportation systems and energy services for all. This is all of our responsibilities.”
Hon Sovaleni said that delegates are in the so called engine room in countries they represent.
“You are to propose targeted solutions to achieve national and regional priorities. We are relying on your expertise to support the best outcome that your Ministers will adopt by the end of the week that will set the direction for the next 3 years,” he said.
“But I would like to seize the opportunity to challenge you with specific issues you may wish to address, and propose in a resolution.”
Pointing to the Paris Agreement, Hon Sovaleni said the commitment by the regional countries through the Nationally Determined Contributions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is an important one to remember.
“How will both energy and transport sectors contribute to achieving their targets, improve energy efficiency and take up on renewable energy? Are we able together to contribute to international negotiations and ensure that there is special consideration from the international community to SIDS and LDCs in which is translated in to genuine and sustainable partnerships? ”
He said that the Government of Tonga, the Pacific Community (SPC) and partners have established the Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (PCREEE).
“This is a perfect example of regional initiative and partnership for the benefit of Pacific Island nations. We also need to look at our opportunities with a united voice,” he said.
“One of these I understand would be to raise safety in domestic shipping in recognizing maritime safety and pollution prevention standards for the whole region, a first in the world.
“Importantly, the Government of Tonga is also pleased to host a meeting of Women in Maritime and will continue to promote leadership and participation of Women and Youth in all sectors.”
Hon Sovaleni also thanked the SPC for taking the lead role and acknowledged the organisation’s 70th birthday celebrations, which will be celebrated on Wednesday evening here in Tonga.
“SPC has a nuanced understanding of the region, and the Government of Tonga is both a committed member and strong supporter of this intergovernmental organization owned and governed by its 26 countries and territories, including all of us present here today,” Hon Sovaleni said.
“SPC recognizes that development issues are complex and that we must take a multi-sector and integrated approach to responding to the Pacific Islands’ development priorities.
“This week’s agenda demonstrates this, and I would like to personally thank SPC for continuing to empower Pacific communities through sharing of expertise and skills for our common benefit.”