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Ensuring Energy Resilience to Empower Island Communities


Rising sea levels and increasingly powerful tropical storms are becoming an even greater threat to the people of the Pacific Islands. Residents of Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, and the surrounding islets. 

Whenever a major cyclone crashes through, the islands’ fragile and inadequate energy systems get knocked out. As a result, residents are left without power for weeks, even months after the deluge has passed. These storms are so severe that these nations can lose up to 17.9% of their gross domestic product (GDP) to these storms with each passing year. Now, climate change threatens to make things worse.

But there could be a glimmer of hope for Pacific Islanders. A recent study published in Nature Energy, a clean power journal, presented a plan on how island-dwellers could gain better and more stable access to power regardless of weather conditions. The study also presented methods by which these nations can successfully transition to the use of sustainable energy.

Education for empowering people

The paper was the result of a joint study conducted by researchers from Loughborough University, University of New South Wales, University of Papua New Guinea, and University of the South Pacific. It points out how local communities should play an integral role when it comes to sustainable energy initiatives. 

Given their remote locations and the increasing threat posed to them by environmental disasters, these people need to be involved in both planning for these initiatives and the long-term maintenance of related facilities.

The study team made recommendations in three primary areas: energy planning and innovative finance; recognition and increased inclusion of community responses to energy concerns; and pushing for a decentralized approach to energy about technological innovation and governance.

Supporting a Global Framework for Energy Resilience

The paper was also clear regarding its support of the global Framework for Energy Security and Resilience (FESRIP) 2021-2030, an initiative that encourages international collaboration regarding energy policy built on power resilience. 

According to FESRIP, success in energy resilience is dependent on locally spearheaded and regionally-coordinated initiatives. In this context, the framework needs to ensure that Pacific Islanders will be able to leverage the knowledge, partnerships, and capacity to their long-term benefit. 

Indeed, as one of the researchers puts it, these countries are now feeling the full impact of climate change with every cyclone and flood that threatens their communities. The team behind the study is also raising the call for a multidisciplinary global initiative that will help address priority areas in terms of research and innovation within the region. This effort would be one that can be done in partnership with the relevant stakeholders.

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