Remarks by Mereseini Rakuita, Principal Strategic Lead – Pacific Women and Girls, Pacific Community (SPC) at the official opening of the 5th Pacific Regional Energy and Transport Ministers Meeting

Port-Vila

An equitable transition to a carbon neutral and safe maritime services for the Blue Pacific 

Acknowledgements 

Honourable Prime Minister of Vanuatu Alatoi Ishmael Kalsakau Maau'Koro 

Vice President Honourable Paino Vanai, Wallis and Futuna 

Honourable Ministers, 

Your Excellencies,  

Distinguished Delegates,  

Development partners and donors. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,  

Bula Vinaka and Warm Pacific Greetings.  

 

As we gather in Port Vila Vanuatu this week, our Blue Pacific is at a critical juncture where we are facing the brunt of the global energy crisis in our region. 64% of Pacific peoples still lack access to regular electricity, and whilst this presents challenges around equitable access, it also presents us with an opportunity to accelerate our efforts towards renewable energy initiatives for both our energy and maritime transport sector. 

Our vast Blue Pacific covers over 42 million square kilometres of ocean and where more than 50% of the population lives on remote outer islands. This remoteness makes maritime transport the only means of transportation for most of our Pacific peoples. 

Even though our renewable energy sector is growing, now is the right time to ensure sufficient attention is brought to these issues and accelerated.  

We need to look at the resources we have and understand how to adapt capabilities so that when we turn off our diesel-generated power plants, our people have jobs. 

Women who have access to employment opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics sectors right now have much less access to employment than our Pacific men. 

We must do this together and collectively.  

During the 51st Pacific Islands Forum, our Pacific Leaders announced a collective aim to achieve a carbon-neutral region by 2050.  

Estimates suggest we need billions of dollars to achieve this. This is not an easy feat considering the challenges we are facing in accessing climate finance and the challenges we face already with transport services due to our remoteness. 

As your Pacific regional agency in science and technical capabilities, we stand with you in facing this enormous challenge. 

However, I am filled with hope because as Pacific people we have always been leaders in driving genuine change. 

I am filled with hope for the opportunities this transition presents for employment opportunities and I am filled with hope for what it means for our women and girls and future generations to live in an energy-independent region that has safe and sustainable transport services. 

As your SPC we are also the secretariat for the Pacific Energy and Gender Initiative and the Pacific Women in Maritime Association. We work closely with you as our members to drive practical and equitable solutions to access for all in the energy and transport sectors. 

I encourage you this week to have bold and open discussions. To look at the practical steps we must take to turn the tide towards energy independence and consider the opportunities that increased employment opportunities bring to our economies, our people and our Blue Pacific more broadly.  

Finally, I would like to humbly thank the Vanuatu Government for your commitment and leadership in driving energy and maritime transport solutions as our host for the 5th Pacific Regional Energy and Transport Ministers Meeting.  

You are a leader in driving collective action on critical climate and development issues and I thank you and your entire team for their commitment over the many months it has taken for us to be here tonight. 

Vinaka vakalevu. Tangkyu Tangkyu tumas. 

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