Sharing Experiences: Energy in National Voluntary Reviews

High Level Political Forum – Side Event on SDG7

Statement by His Excellency Thoriq Ibrahim

Minister of Environment and Energy

New York, 18 July 2016


Excellencies and Colleagues,

At the outset let me thank the Team of Sustainable Energy For All and the other sponsors of this event, for organising such an important event at the margins of the first High Level Political Forum after the adoption of Agenda 2030 in 2015. Issues related to energy security and in general sustainable energy is very important part in development of any country. SIDS are extremely dependent on fossil fuel to meet their energy demand. SIDS also faces numerous challenges in addressing the issue of energy security. Our geographical distribution, lack of resources both finance and technical capacity, small and volatile economies are few of our many obstacles for sustainable energy. In addition to this, we are exposed to the changing international energy landscape, which risks our economic and social development.

Mr. Chairman,

We are islanders, we are small but we have always won despite the many odds. SIDS have championed many issues including Sustainable Development issues and also for Climate Change. We have demonstrated that last year with remarkable international outcomes.

SIDS are a leading advocates and leaders in moving economies towards low carbon development. Our governments are implementing low carbon development actions as I speak here today.

SIDS have moved away from just piloting renewable energy technologies, to scaled up programmes. We have widened our circle with increased participation of private sectors in our countries to assist governments as we transform our economy. Energy landscapes in our countries are changing for the better and it is cleaner, much affordable and highly reliable.

As political masters we have reiterated in many international fora about our intention to transform. All most all of SIDS have expressed our intention to transform: either economy wide or sectorial wide.

Let me now turn to the Maldives national experience: Like most other SIDS, we aim to move towards low carbon development. Our INDC is to reduce our emission by 10% from Business as Usual, voluntarily by 2030. We believe that with assistance we will be able to do much more, reaching 24%.

In the Maldives, we have begun to do our part by crafting our national policies to favour and benefit renewables greatly. We have no import tax on any renewable energy products. New regulations have come into effect allowing individuals to use net metering, and (simple and) standardized procedures for utility scale investments under feed-in-tariff scheme for renewables. Building codes are being updated with energy efficiency embedded in them. Energy efficiency labelling for most used appliances are being considered to help economize energy use in the country. A recent development is for Tourism sector development Master Plan to include plans to increase renewable energy share in the sector. We have taken strategic action to reduce subsidies to fossil fuel.

Maldives has made several targets in our energy sector, including the target to make 30% of day peak demand electricity in all islands met by renewable sources of energy. I am happy to share the good news, as we have successfully done this and have installed renewable energy in many of our islands with some exceeding the 30% target. We are on-track for this. (Achievement of this target is an important part of diversifying our economy and increasing economic resilience to external shocks.)

Our continued struggles are getting private sector onboard in addressing Climate Change and mainstreaming renewable energy. One of the successes I would like to highlight is the opening of a 100% solar powered luxury resort island. This island shows a perfect example of how private sector can adopt low carbon development. And we need the private sector to take leadership in this regard, as Government cannot do it alone. Partnerships in transforming energy sector have yielded successful results in Maldives.

For SIDS, adapting to climate change and developing a low carbon economy will require significant additional resources and investments. SIDS have received comparatively low levels of investments in renewables, compared to other group of countries. The technologies that would provide a foundation for a low carbon and energy efficient economy in SIDS are at a disadvantage due to relatively high initial costs and economies of scale in islands which have served to slow the rate of commercialization. The increasing risk posed to SIDS by changing climate makes the matter worse.

Mr Moderator,

In the Maldives, monitoring is embedded into our plans. A study in this regard, before the commencement of any project is a general practice that Maldivian government follows. A baseline study provides us with ample information for effective implementation. Similarly, scheduled monitoring activities are under taken and reported. These monitoring report are valuable resource for future developments and plans.

Before I conclude, let me assure that SIDS, such as the Maldives, are exploring every possible avenue towards independence from fossil fuels. As we are entering into clean energy era, SIDS would need adequate amount of technology transfer, along with predictable (scaled-up, additional) and sustainable financing- as implementation depends on finance, availability of relevant technology, and capacity building. Therefore, I urge our partners to partner with us in transforming our economy to low carbon and make our energy sustainable, affordable and safe.

Thank you