Renewable Energy Promotion for Islands

THE International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), have joined forces to promote the use of renewable energy on islands.

IRENA, the intergovernmental organization dedicated to supporting countries’ efforts to adopt renewable energy, and UNWTO, the United Nations specialized agency for tourism, released a Joint Statement on Renewable Energy and Tourism in Islands, at the Third UN Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Samoa.

Both organizations say they are committed to encourage investment in cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions that reduce the reliance of islands on carbon-emitting fossil fuel.

Islands are burdened by high energy costs due to their reliance on costly imported diesel fuel. In spite of efforts to improve energy efficiency, more than 90% of SIDS´ energy consumption is met through oil imports, which represent up to 20% of their annual imports. Many islands have goals to expand the use of renewable energy options and reduce this oil dependency. Since tourism is an economic mainstay for many islands, investment in such options by hotels is key to achieving these goals. Renewable options for water heating, air conditioning and electricity generation can cut hotel operating costs, advance sustainability while making them more appeling for tourists.

Their Statement also calls for hotels to document the energy savings and cost reductions from these applications and to share the information through the Global Renewable Energy Islands Network (GREIN). Finally, it recalls that greater investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy is fundamental to build a more sustainable, competitive and resilient tourism sector worldwide, and particularly, in islands.

In signing the Statement, IRENA Director-General, Adnan Z. Amin, and UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai paved the way to cooperation with hotels and tourism authorities in pursuit of these aims. “Investment by island hotels is vital to demonstrating the business case for renewable energy, which is essential to addressing the burden of costly fossil fuels that inhibits islands’ economic and social development,” said Amin.

“Tourism is a primary economic sector for many SIDS and a dominant force driving inclusive socio-economic growth. Yet, sustainable tourism development in small islands continues to face many challenges; one of the major ones is their high dependence on fossil fuel. The synergy of tourism and renewable energy represents a powerful force that will pave the way for win-win solutions in driving the sustainable agenda of islands forward,” said Rifai.

Picture of St Johns Antigua by Matt H. Wade reproduced under CCL.

Friday 5th September 2014


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