More than 10,000 attendees and 100 speakers representing government leaders, policy makers, academics, diplomats and NGO representatives took part in 25 sessions spread over 6 days (7th September- 13th September 2020).
The overall objective of this conference was to share knowledge for resilient, sustainable and prosperous islands worldwide.
Dr Raturi participated in the session entitled “Technology and Innovation Policy for Island Sustainability.” This session was organized by the University of Delaware Island Policy Lab (Biden School of Public Policy and Administration) in conjunction with the UN Universities Consortium of Small Island States. The panelists discussed the need and scope for technology transfer and implementation policies for sustainable development in islands.
The session was opened by H.E. Anton Edwards, Ambassador of St. Lucia to the United States. Mr. Edwards talked about the lack of regulatory framework and financing for implementing sustainable technology that impede progress. He called for introduction of innovative technologies in the agriculture sector to reduce import bills. Ambassador Edwards said it was important that policy makers be presented with proven technologies that can then be deployed to lower risk and support civil societies become aware of technological solutions. “A repository of data needs to be available to the policy makers and bankers to make informed decisions, he said.
In his presentation Dr. Raturi talked about the ‘energy trilemma ‘faced by the Pacific island countries. Energy access, energy security and climate change impacts are faced all the PICs whether big or small. Citing the examples of two countries PNG and Fiji Dr. Raturi briefly discussed the potential of solar energy in achieving SDG 7 targets and the synergy between SDG 7 and many other SDGs. He also touched upon the need to involve private sector in renewable power sector through enabling policies.
Other panelists, Dr. Arthur Trembanis from University of Delaware talked about the development and applications of underwater vehicles for seafloor mapping and Mr. Pedro Lopes, Secretary of State for innovation and TVET, Cabo Verde, shared his small island developing country’s vision of sustainable development in terms of diversification of economy post COVID-19, social inclusion, enhanced renewable energy and digital infrastructure.
Fiji’s Prime Minister was the keynote speaker on day 2, “Grand opening-eastern hemisphere’ where he was joined by Hon. Lourdes Guerrero, Governor of Guam; HE David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia and Hon. Enele Sopoaga, former PM of Tuvalu.
In his address, Hon. Bainimarama talked about challenges faced by the island countries and said, “…in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, never have islands felt so far removed from the outside world…”. The Islands, he said, were already reeling under the impacts of climate change and this new crisis has impacted the tourism sector while disrupting the supplying chains. He encouraged the large carbon emitting countries to cut their emissions. On a positive note, the Fiji Prime Minister added that islands are “incubators for the big blue and green ideas humanity needs; ideas that can be scaled up across the world”.
Hon. Sopoaga talked about the threat climate change posed to the island nations. He said national security of island countries and livelihood of islanders were being threatened by climate change which he likened to a weapon of mass destruction. He stressed on the need to look after our oceans saying, “we are all fishermen and we treat the ocean with respect and honour, based on traditional methodology of harvesting fish sustainably”. He talked about Tuvalu’s commitment for 100% renewable energy and asked for increased mitigation measures by the large emitters.
On the final day of the conference (September 13th 2020), a special session entitled “The next generation of island leaders” was held. Ms. Komal Narayan from Fiji participated. This session explored the “the impactful work of youth advocates” in the field of social and environmental challenges faced by the global communities. A virtual expo and several networking sessions were other highlights of this unique zero-carbon conference.