|Prime Minister Freundel Stuart??|
Without access to sustainable energy there can be no sustainable development, and achieving sustainable energy has been cited as a critical component to helping Small Island Developing States (SIDS) reduce poverty, combat adverse climate change effects, increase their development and improve their risk resilience.
The move by the Barbados Government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to co-host an informal Sustainable Energy for All (SEFA) ministerial meeting from May 7 to 8, as well as, the Rio+20 Preparatory Meeting on May 9, at the Hilton Hotel, is particularly significant.
This is significant since 2012 has been declared the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, furthermore the UN Secretary-General has launched the SEFA initiatives to identify and mobilise action by governments, businesses, civil society, academia and the development community.?? Just as significant is the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro which is scheduled for June, later this year.??
Consequently, the Barbados meetings are critical as they aim to produce a declaration which describes the realities and opportunities of SEFA from the perspective of SIDS.?? It is also anticipated that it would outline a clear statement regarding the circumstances, needs and vulnerabilities of SIDS and call on the various stakeholders to commit to supporting the actions and garner support from SIDS DOCK – a sustainable energy project which provides a mechanism for investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency in SIDS.?? It was pioneered by the Alliance of Small Island States, UNDP Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.????
Furthermore, according to the organisers, the Rio+20 Preparatory Meeting, which takes place immediately after the informal SEFA ministerial conference, will see high level attendants "strengthen the bonds and coordinate the common voice of such a large and geographically disparate group of developing countries".
It is expected that over 100 high-level officials from SIDS representing the Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and South China Sea, the Caribbean and the Pacific will attend the conference.??
Representatives have also been invited from Brazil, Australia, Norway, and the United Kingdom; as supporters of the Conference; in addition to Japan and Denmark; as supporters of the SIDS DOCK initiative.
The SEFA symposium plans to achieve three key objectives: universal access to modern energy services; double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
Moreover, the SEFA conference in Barbados seeks to provide participants with a platform to clarify and explain SIDS’ perspective on sustainable energy and examine ways SEFA’s objectives could be accomplished.
SIDS have outlined that sustainable energy access is one of their primary concerns. Pointing to research that demonstrates their vulnerability with natural disasters, fragile economies, low-lying coastal areas and climate change impacts, many member states have called on the need for developed nations to take responsibility.??
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is scheduled to deliver the feature address on the opening day, of the Barbados SEFA Conference at 9:00 a.m., while the signing of the Barbados Declaration will take place on May 8.
UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for Barbados and the OECS, Michelle Gyles-McDonnough will give the welcome and introductory remarks, while other high level representatives from the Alliance of Small Island States, the UNDP, the Pacific Regional Environment Programme and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre will also give addresses.