SUVA, FIJI, February 16, 2023 – Energy security and sustainable development are at the forefront of the Solar Head of State initiative launched by the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) in Suva today. Project partners include the UN-India Development Partnership Fund, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Office of South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), and Solar Head of State (SHOS). As part of an ongoing global campaign to highlight the benefits of solar energy, the project will commence with the installation of solar panels at the Fijian presidential residence, the State House, in a bid to demonstrate first-hand the simple process and immediate advantages of the power source.
This initiative is supported by the PIDF and SHOS and funded by the India UN Partnership Fund and Solaria Corporation. The leadership role by SIDS is more important than ever, as new global threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbate the ongoing impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable nations, particularly in Pacific Island Countries (PICs).
His Excellency, the President of Fiji Ratu Wiliame Maivalili Katonivere and the Minister of External Affairs of the Government of India, Mr. Subrahmanyam Jaishanka were present at the launch alongside representatives of all partner organisations.
H.E. President Katonivere shared these sentiments at the launch, “As a champion of sustainable development, I fully support the Solar Head of State initiative where PIDF demonstrates the all-of-society participatory approach to development as seen in its advocacy work in Renewable Energy, which will see the Solarisation of Head of States of Pacific Leader’s Residences where each system installed becomes a demonstration project to inspire the mass adoption of solar energy and other renewable energy technologies by the citizens of the country.”
President Katonivere added, “As the Fiji Head of State Residence is one of the beneficiaries of the Initiative, I wish to thank the Government of India for the financial support. I also would like to thank the various partners in the rollout, as of this month equipment have been received here in Fiji for installation later this year.”
Fiji like other Pacific Island countries, faces multiple energy challenges, including:
- Limited range of indigenous energy resources;
- High cost of developing energy resources and extending service to remote populations;
- Poor quality of energy data and trends;
- A small base of skilled people to address the issues; and
- Weak bargaining positions with petroleum suppliers.
Electricity production accounts for roughly 40 percent of petroleum fuel use in the Pacific region. High fossil fuel costs can hamper countries and remote communities, limiting their ability to electrify the region and maintain stable energy supply. Transitioning to readily available renewable energy like solar will help reduce costs and provide energy for local communities, while also providing green jobs, encouraging sustainable development and combating climate change.
PIDF and SHOS along with private sector partners will procure, construct, and provide project management for the photovoltaic system to be installed at State House. The PIDF’s strategic approach to partnership is guided by its mandate to foster multi-stakeholder engagement focused on the comparative advantages of South-South Cooperation and aimed at developing inter-regional and intra-regional Small Island Developing States (SIDS) partnerships to benefit the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and climate-resilience in the Pacific Islands. SHOS will also train local staff, laborers, and volunteers, who will assist with the construction, operation, and maintenance of the panel.
This project is ‘gender’ inclusive, and it is wonderful to note that the Solar equipment for Tonga will be installed at the Tonga National Centre for Women, and 20 women are to be trained for the Operations and Management, post installation. Following the launch of this inaugural pilot project in Fiji, the PIDF and SHOS will carry out similar initiatives across the region in the Federated State of Micronesia, Kiribati, Palau, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands Tonga, Tuvalu, Timor-Leste, and Vanuatu.
This multi-country project is an example of a whole-of-society approach, specifically a multi stakeholder partnership, with partners from the public and private sectors, as well as civil society partners of the PIDF, such as the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (PIANGO). The PIDF acknowledges and thank the Government of India for this incredible support and commends UNDP’s genuine partnership and look forward to working in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders towards the effective implementation of this very important project.
Background of the Project
Partnerships play an essential role in the Solarisation of Head of State Residences in PIDF member countries project. Multiple organizations based in different countries and regions of the world are involved, including from the public sector, private sector and civil society: i) in the PICs, partners include the offices of the head of state/buildings of national importance, power utilities and private companies; ii) at the regional level, partners include PIDF and UNDP; and, iii) at the international level, partners include the international NGO Solar Head of State, the Government of India, and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC). The multiple partners are also reflected in the funding of this project. The Government of India has provided US$400,000 via the India-UN Development Partnership Fund and US$700,000 via the India-UN Development Partnership Fund Commonwealth Window. The private sector company Solaria has pro bono contributed solar PV panel’s equivalent to an estimated total of US$120,000 (US$10,000 X 12 PV solar systems). PIDF and SHOS in-kind contribution are equivalent to an estimated total of US$120,000 towards the public awareness campaigns (US$10,000 x 12 solar PV systems).
Pacific Islands Development Forum
Solar Head of State