Tonga and Development Partners ready for the Pacific Leaders Energy Summit

The Government of the Kingdom of Tonga and its Development Partners are putting the finishing touches to the preparations for the Pacific Leaders Energy Summit, PLES, to be held in Nuku’alofa, March 21st and 22nd, 2013.

The Pacific Leaders Energy Summit will provide an opportunity for Pacific leaders to consult on the formulation of national energy strategies and road maps that will significantly raise the level of deployment of renewable energy in the islands of the region.

It was at the Pacific Forum meeting in Auckland in 2011 that Pacific Island leaders called for “developing credible whole of sector plans such as “energy road maps” and structures to improve energy security, reduce dependency on fossil fuel for electricity generation and improve access to electricity”.

Against the backdrop of a lingering global economic recession, and the rising threat of climate change, the Pacific Leaders Energy Summit will help to focus attention on the need for viable models and plans for action in the Pacific Islands states, and to stimulate a concerted effort in the region for collective energy development on a Pacific wide basis.

During the summit, the approach taken by the Government of Tonga as articulated in the Tonga Energy Road Map, TERM, will be used as a case study to illustrate what can be achieved when there is a direct and very close interaction between Development Partners and the highest decision making body in the Government.

As a credible model for the whole of sector approach to energy development, TERM strives to be a one-stop shop for all energy related matters in the country, including being the single point of engagement between the Government and all Development Partners.

The Pacific Leaders Energy Summit will provide the platform for Development Partners and Pacific leaders to explore ideas and plans to chart the way forward in developing a sustainable energy future for all the people of the region.

The Pacific Leaders Energy Summit in Tonga will be followed by the Pacific Energy Summit in Auckland, New Zealand, co-hosted by New Zealand and the European Union, from the 24th to the 26th of March, 2013.

The meeting in New Zealand will provide a forum for “Pacific leaders to present their energy plans and targets and to seek donor and private sector support to translate plans into action”.

The events in Tonga and in New Zealand complement each other, actually “they are the two sides of the same coin”, according to the Director of the Tonga Energy Road Map Implementation Unit, TERM-IU, Mr. ‘Inoke Finau Vala, and will help lay a secure foundation for developing the energy sector in the Pacific Island states.

“The Development Partner community is happy to work together with the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga in the energy sector – especially through the Tonga Energy Roadmap”, said Franz Drees-Gross, the World Bank’s Country Director for the Pacific, the coordinating agency for the Development Partners at the Pacific Leaders Energy Summit in Nuku’alofa. “We see this Summit as a significant step forward in strengthening efforts to enhance energy security in the Pacific, including measures to improve renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

Development Partners have pledged their support to work together with Pacific states to ensure that suitable projects are adequately financed and sustainably operated. Of critical importance to this effort is the design and implementation of energy road maps or energy plans, and financing mechanisms needed to implement developments in the energy sector as a whole.

In the lead up to the Pacific Leaders Energy Summit, Lord Tu’ivakano said, “The Government of the Kingdom of Tonga is honoured to host the Pacific Leaders Energy Summit in Nuku’alofa in the next few days, and is humbled by the privilege of receiving so many of the leaders of our Pacific nations, and distinguished officials on to our shores. As Prime Minister, and Chairman of the Tonga Energy Road Map Committee together with our Development Partners, I extend to all a most warm welcome and look forward to a very fruitful and far reaching dialogue in energy sector development in the Pacific region”.

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