Freezer Handover marks Tokelau's Green Energy Leadership

Dec 4, 2015

UNDP Resident Representative, Lizbeth Cullity and the Head of the Tokelau Office, Jovilisi Suveinakama. Photo credit: UNDP/W.Kennedy

In 2012, Tokelau achieved one of the world’s first energy transformation milestones: a country able to use solar power to generate 100 per cent of its electricity. 

That was phase one, and the easy part. How to make the transformation sustainable is the more difficult phase of the initiative. 

On Friday 4 December in Apia, freezers were handed out at a special ceremony marking a milestone in this endeavour – it was the tangible confirmation that phase two of Tokelau’s energy programme is well on its way to completion.

Phase two is actioned through the Tokelau Energy Sector Support (TESS) Project, a joint-venture-type partnership between Tokelau and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Its three main targets are to: 

·       * review and update the Tokelau energy policy; 

·       * build local capacity to operate, maintain and service the system; 

·       * develop and incentivise household appliances that are compliant with the energy efficiency system and change behaviour and age-old over-consumption habits to green, sustainable and affordable.

The freezer hand-over was a key milestone of the TESS project, which will be officially launched and acknowledged in Tokelau in the near future. 

 Members of the Office of Tokelau Affairs after the handing over ceremony. Photo credit: UNDP/W.Kennedy/2015

On behalf of the Ulu o Tokelau, Mr Jovilisi Suveinakama stated: “This project demonstrates Tokelau’s resolve and ongoing commitment towards sustainable use of solar energy by focusing on demand-side management. 

“Twelve young people will be identified to train our villagers in renewable energy; changing these freezers and using energy-saving light bulbs is expected to cut energy usage substantially,” he said.

“That needs to be coupled with good energy conservation practice. Turning the lights off when leaving a room may sound small and trivial, but if everyone does their little bit, that all adds up.

“It means that in the future, Tokelau will see more of these benefits come through, as the community becomes more aware of the importance of energy conservation.” 

The UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Lizbeth Cullity said she was “overwhelmed with pride and satisfaction” for UNDP to be part of, and partner to, the TESS programme because it gives the word “sustainable” its true meaning. 

She said the 12 nationals being trained to look after the system and working with the Tokelau public are “making sure that that demand can be met by the renewable system you’ve set up”. It is also helping to educate and raise awareness on how to make best use of the system within technical and financial parameters.

She applauded Tokelau rising to the occasion as a mark of global leadership in the renewable sector.

“During this very important period of the COP21 negotiations in Paris, France, you are doing your part: you are making sure that the systems you have in place will not be contributing to the problem. You are a role model, showing how a country can rise to an occasion, to make sure that all its citizens understand the need to live a different life. One that is not selfish and based on ignorance.” 

She vouched to “go out there and talk about Tokelau’s 100 per cent renewable energy with great pride. 

“You are small but you are really productive. I know you are not drowning, I know you are fighting!” 

The project achievements will be officially launched in Tokelau in the near future: ninety households are set to enjoy the cost-saving benefits of lower energy consumptions. 

“We hope that the more savings we make in energy , the more money can be released for education, health and in other areas that will improve the quality of life and well-being of our people,” concluded Mr Suveinakama. 

He also reaffirmed the importance Tokelau attaches to its relationship with UNDP.

“UNDP has been a partner for Tokelau and has been a significant contributor on our development. We started this work on renewable energy in 2000 and before that it was work on our self-determination. 

“The relationship with UNDP is the first one since Tokelau opened its doors to development partners. It is an important one that has helped grow a small community with local actions impacting the global agenda. Some of the fruits are starting to bud through this joint endeavour in the renewable energy sector,” he said.

 

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