Tuvalu’s Prime Minister Appointed President of the SIDS DOCK Assembly

Monday, 31 Oct 2016

16 October 2016, United Nations Headquarters New York

SIDS DOCK, the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Sustainable Energy and Climate Resilience organisation, announced that His Excellency Mr. Enele Sosene Sopoaga, OBE, Prime Minister and Minister for Public Utilities of Tuvalu, has been appointed President of the second SIDS DOCK Assembly, on 24 September 2016, during its second session held at the United Nations (UN) headquarters on the margins of the General Debate of the 71st United Nations General Assembly.

The Assembly is the supreme organ of SIDS DOCK, and as President, Prime Minister Sopoaga is the new leader of the 15 SIDS DOCK Member States across the Pacific, Caribbean, Africa and Indian Ocean regions, who are likely to be the largest economic losers with large displaced populations if average global temperatures go beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is considered the threshold for the continued survival of ecosystems essential to livelihoods in Small Island Developing States and low-lying coastal States. The Regional Centres for Sustainable Energy in the Caribbean (CCREEE), the Pacific (PCREEE) and in West Africa (ECREEE) will act as implementing hubs for the SIDS DOCK Initiative.  SIDS DOCK is so named because it is designed as a “DOCKing station to connect the energy sector in SIDS with the global markets for finance, sustainable energy technologies and carbon.

Tuvalu has the history-making distinction of being the first SIDS to sign and ratify the SIDS DOCK Treaty, at a Side Event on the margins of the UN Third International Meeting on Small Island Developing States, in Apia, Samoa, in September 2014. It was in Samoa, that Tuvalu strongly reinforced its commitment to SIDS DOCK, so it was no surprise that the Assembly unanimously elected Tuvalu’s Prime Minister to provide the needed leadership, over the one-year tenure of the Presidency. Honourable Sopoaga replaces the outgoing President of the first session of the Assembly, His Excellency Mr. Roosevelt Skerrit, Distinguished Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica, who was appointed during the first session, which was held on the margins of the twenty-first meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties meeting (COP 21), in Paris, France.

In his acceptance speech, the new President stressed the importance to address collectively the challenge of climate change. He welcomed the ratification of the Paris Agreement by 61 countries, which brought the world a step closer to the concretization of this agreement. He further described some of the sustainable energy projects in Tuvalu, supported by SIDS DOCK, to enable Tuvalu to reach its ambition of 100% of renewable energy by 2020, and contribute to the sustainable development of Tuvalu. He concluded by urging the Assembly to work together to progress forward and to elect a Secretary-General to get SIDS DOCK fully established and operational. He reaffirmed Tuvalu’s commitment to support the work of SIDS DOCK.

The urgency and high ambition of Tuvalu to transition to a low carbon economy is driven by the fact that Tuvalu - a chain of nine islands standing just two metres or barely seven feet above sea level - might disappear in in the next 30 to 50 years, if the current sea level rise continues, according to several recent scientific reports. Prime Minister Sopoaga, is representative of SIDS Leadership – leaders with exceptional skills and aware of the challenges of governing a drowning State, a prospect faced by all SIDS, but happening sooner in the Pacific region. SIDS DOCK is about survival.

Tuvalu was one of the first to sign the Memorandum of Agreement establishing SIDS DOCK - 32 SIDS are signatories. In 2010, at the UNFCCC COP 16, in Cancun, Mexico, Small Island Developing States launched the SIDS Sustainable Energy and Climate Resilience Initiative - SIDS DOCK - as the SIDS-owned mechanism to bring about the transformation of the SIDS energy sector, which is considered by islands as the most effective and sustainable manner to build resilience to climate change. The SIDS DOCK goal is to increase energy efficiency by 25 percent (2005 baseline) and to generate a minimum of 50 percent of electric power from renewable sources and a 50 percent decrease in conventional transportation fuel use by 2033: Island Energy for Island Life 25-50-25 by 2033.

The SIDS DOCK Assembly, headed by the newly-elected President Sopoaga, also re-elected the Honourable Mr. Kenred Dorsett, Minister of the Environment and Housing of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, and elected His Excellency Mr. Ronald Jumeau, Ambassador for Climate Change and SIDS Issues of the Republic of the Seychelles, as Vice Presidents, by acclamation. The term of the Vice Presidents is to expire in September 2017. The Assembly also re-elected by acclamation, Mr. Fitzroy James, Director of Economic and Technical Cooperation, Ministry of Economic Development, Planning, Trade and Cooperatives, of Grenada, and elected His Excellency Mr. Jadgish Dharamchand Koonjul, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Mauritius to the UN, and His Excellency Mr. Aunese Makoi Simati, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Tuvalu to the UN, to the SIDS DOCK Executive Council, for the term 2017-2019, beginning 1 January 2017, and expiring 31 December 2019. The Assembly also elected by acclamation, Dr. Tevita Tukunga, of the Kingdom of Tonga, to the SIDS DOCK Executive Council, to fill the outstanding vacancy for the term 2016-2018, effective immediately.

The SIDS DOCK Executive Council is chaired by His Excellency Dr. Vince Henderson, LPD, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Commonwealth of Dominica to the United States, whose term expires on 31 December 2017. Ambassador Henderson was also the recipient of the SIDS DOCK Island Women Open Network (IWON) Leadership Award for his dedicated service to SIDS DOCK, and for championing the empowerment and advancement of women and the most vulnerable in society at the community and grassroots levels in small islands and low lying developing states to participate in the transformation of the SIDS energy sector.

Contact: Dr. Al Binger, CCREEE Interim-Directorabinger@sidsdock.org, yengar@hotmail.com