The Fifth Pacific Regional Energy and Transport Ministers’ Meeting was organized by the Pacific Community (SPC) in close coordination with its Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (PCREEE) in Tonga and was hosted by the Government of Vanuatu in Port Vila, from 8-12 May 2023. The theme of the meeting was “Accelerating Decarbonization in the Blue Pacific”. The meeting followed up on the results of the 2019 edition, which was held in Apia Samoa.
Around 250 participants from Pacific Islands and Territories (PICTs), regional and international organisations, as well as development partners and private sector attended the meeting. Energy and Transport Ministers from the following countries were present: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna. Heads of delegations and/or senior officials also attended on behalf of Ministers of Energy and/or Transport of Australia, New Zealand, Palau, Tokelau and United Kingdom.
The Honourable Alatoi Ishmael Kalsakau Mau’koro, Prime Minister of Vanuatu, officially opened the meeting on the 8th of May 2023 and delivered the keynote address. The joint ministerial dialogue on Wednesday 10th May 2023 was chaired by the Honourable Ralph Regenvanu, Minister of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Energy, Environment and National Disaster Management Office (MoCC) of the Government of Vanuatu On Thursday 11th May, the meeting of Energy Ministers was chaired by Honourable Ralph Regenvanu and the meeting of Transport Ministers was chaired by Honourable Marcellino Barthelemy, Minister of Infrastructure and Public Utilities of the Government of Vanuatu.
The Ministers reconfirmed that climate change remains the single greatest existential threat facing the Blue Pacific. The effects of climate change are real, appalling and existential in Pacific island societies today. This defining issue worsens daily without urgent action to address the source of emissions. One of the highlights was the adoption of the „Port Vila Call to Action“, which aims at a Just and Equitable Transition towards a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific. The call is being proposed for formal endorsement by the Pacific Island leaders during the upcoming Pacific Island Forum (PIF) Leaders meeting hosted by the Cook Islands in October 2023.
It calls for a “unified, urgent, strong, and regional position to phase out fossil fuels”. To drive the implementation, the Ministers agreed to rapidly establish a Pacific Energy Commissioner for a Just Transition to a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific, with senior experienced leadership supported by leading technical experts and a regional taskforce, and funded by allies to a fossil fuel free world.
The meeting adopted two resolutions of energy and transport officials, which were the basis for the joined outcome statement of the ministers. Regarding transport, the ministers adopted very ambitious goals regarding the decarbonisation of the shipping industry. The initiative is supported by a coalition of like-minded international partners and reflects the increasing focus of climate finance on the blue dimension of climate action, in line with decisions at COP26 and the UN Ocean Conference in 2022.
Throughout the taken decisions the important role of PCREEE was highlighted. United Kingdom and New Zealand announced financial support to the centre. So far PCREEE received funding particularly from Austria and Norway. The officials commended PCREEE and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) for the achieved progress regarding the development of a Pacific e-mobility policy and program. In their 4th meeting in 2019 in Samoa, the ministers mandated both partners with the development of technical assessments and documents. Today, the implementaiton of the e-mobility policy is supported by a number of international partners, including Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank (WB), the Green Growth Institute (GGI).
Finally, the ministers mandated PCREEE, UNIDO and SIDS DOCK also with the development and implementation of a Pacific Ocean Energy Readiness Program under the newly established Global Ocean Energy Alliance (GLOEA). The GLOEA was officially launched by UNIDO and SIDS DOCK during a side event at the UN Ocean Conference in 2022. The ministers encouraged the partners to facilitate SIDS-SIDS cooperation on ocean energy issues and solutions within the Global Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centres (GN-SEC).
Further information on the conference and adopted decisions is available at: 5th Pacific Regional Energy and Transport Ministers Meeting (2023).
PCREEE was involved in the preparation of a number of decision papers: