IRENA AOSIS agreement - small island developing states
IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera and Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment of Antigua and Barbuda and Chair of AOSIS, Molwyn Joseph. Image courtesy of IRENA

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) signed an agreement at COP26 yesterday that will see the two organisations work together to mobilise climate finance and to advance the deployment of renewable energy across small island developing states (SIDS).

According to an IRENA analysis on the first round of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) conducted in 2019, around $16 billion of financing is needed by 2030 to achieve their respective targets in SIDS. In September this year, AOSIS and IRENA through the SIDS Lighthouse Initiative committed to achieving a total of 10GW installed renewable energy capacity in all SIDS by 2030 under a joint energy compact submitted to the UN. At the end of 2020, around 6GW of renewables were operational in SIDS. 

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The signing ceremony took place at the AOSIS pavilion – the first time the Alliance has secured a space for small island representation at COP – between IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera and Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment of Antigua and Barbuda and Chair of AOSIS, Molwyn Joseph. 

“The plight of small islands around the world must serve as a continual reminder of the urgency to act,” said La Camera. “The enthusiasm witnessed at this COP must now be translated from commitments to action in the months and years ahead of us. In that context, IRENA and AOSIS will redouble efforts to maintain the energy transition leadership shown by island nations since the signing of the Paris Agreement by working to mobilise climate finance and bolstering the implementation agenda.”

AOSIS represents 44 small islands and low lying coastal developing states representing 39 SIDS across the Caribbean, Pacific and Atlantic, Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. 

“IRENA has been a steadfast supporter for the work being undertaken in our island countries in accelerating transition towards renewable energy for almost a decade, and so we’re very pleased now to finally make it official,” said Joseph.

The partnership will work to operationalise the “Ambitious Small Island Developing States Climate Action Summit Package” announced during UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit in 2019. It targets increased access to financial de-risking instruments to achieve energy transition goals by 2030. The package is being operationalised through the IRENA-coordinated SIDS Lighthouses Initiative (LHI), comprised of 38 SIDS and 31 partners including developed countries, regional and international organisations, development agencies, private companies, research institutes and non-profit organisations.

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IRENA and AOSIS, through this cooperation, will also support the enhancement and implementation of NDCs and the pursuit of sustainable development in SIDS. Other areas of cooperation will include strengthened coordination of the SIDS agenda and action through information and knowledge exchange, tailored capacity building activities, assessment opportunities for renewable energy use and applications and the publication of technical papers on energy transition and climate action for the Atlantic, Indian Ocean and South China Sea (AIS), Caribbean and the Pacific regions.