IRENA Renewables and Islands Global Summit Bulletin



The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Renewables and Islands Global Summit took place from Thursday, 6 to Friday, 7 September 2012 in Malta. More than 130 representatives from IRENA member states, including ministers from 14 states and participants from international organizations and the private sector participated in the Summit.

The two-day Summit featured panel presentations and general discussions on: the implications of the Rio+20 Outcome Document for island sustainable development and renewable energy; island energy trends and strategies; strategic partnerships; and enabling frameworks for investment. A session on best practices and challenges provided the opportunity for participants to share case-study experiences from different regions.

On the final day, participants discussed and adopted the Malta Communiqué on accelerating renewable energy uptake for islands, which includes proposed actions for future IRENA assistance to islands.

Most islands around the world are dependent on imported fossil fuels for the majority of their energy needs, especially for transport and electricity generation. For reasons of scale and isolation, energy infrastructure costs are higher on islands, and the impact of oil price and supply volatility has been severe, exacerbated by the small size of local markets.

IRENA was established to promote the widespread and increased adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy. Through the provisions of the IRENA statute, adopted on 26 January 2009, and entered into force on 8 July 2010, and the Assembly decisions to date, the Agency has been requested to focus, as one of its priorities, on the accelerated deployment of renewable energy in islands.


SE4ALL: The UN General Assembly (UNGA) has declared 2012 the “International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.” (SE4ALL). In this context, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched his SE4ALL initiative to identify and mobilize action by stakeholders from across government, business, civil society, academia and the development community.

The SE4ALL Initiative aims to achieve three objectives by 2030: ensuring universal access to modern energy services; doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

The International Year and the SE4ALL initiative include various activities at different levels, such as: the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Group; national dialogues to facilitate stakeholder involvement; and policy formulation and evaluation, as well as a public-private partnership of practitioners in the energy community.

To date, many island nations have committed to the SE4ALL partnership.

Rio+20 Outcome Document “The future we want: The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) took place on 20-22 June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It marked the 20th anniversary of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, which resulted in the adoption of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and Agenda 21 (a 40-chapter programme of action). At UNCSD, representatives of 191 UN member states and observers, including 79 Heads of State or Government, adopted the Outcome Document entitled “The Future We Want.”

The agreement calls for the UNGA, at its next session, to take decisions on, inter alia: designating a body to operationalize the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production; determining the modalities for the third international conference on small island developing states (SIDS), which is to convene in 2014; and constituting a working group to develop global sustainable development goals to be agreed by the UNGA.

The Rio+20 Outcome Document contains five paragraphs on energy, which:

  • recognize the critical role that energy plays in the development process, and commits to facilitate support for access to sustainable modern energy services by the 1.4 billion people worldwide currently without them;
  • emphasize the need to address the challenge of access to sustainable modern energy services for all;
  • reaffirm support for the implementation of national and subnational policies and strategies;
  • commit to supporting efforts on electrification and dissemination of sustainable cooking and heating solutions;
  • recognize the need for energy efficiency measures in urban planning, buildings and transportation, and in the production of goods and services and product design;
  • recognize the importance of promoting incentives favoring, and removing disincentives to, energy efficiency and the diversification of the energy mix; and
  • note the SE4All initiative and express determination to make sustainable energy for all a reality, while recognizing that countries set priorities according to their specific challenges, capacities and circumstances, including their energy mix.



On Thursday, 6 September, George Pullicino, Minister for Resources and Rural Affairs, Malta, welcomed participants, noting that island states share a common vision of implementing renewable energy technology amidst limited financial resources and geophysical restrictions. He described Malta’s plans to generate 10% of all consumed energy from alternate sources by 2020, including from solar, offshore wind, biofuels and green energy generated from waste. Pullicino called for island states to lead by example, including by testing renewable energy technology before it is implemented on a larger scale.


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