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Maldives to lead renewable energy initiatives in South Asia

Jan 18, 2013

Acknowledging Maldives’ commitment towards the global environment movement, Maldives has been elected as the Vice Chair of the Assembly of International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). IRENA was officially established in Bonn, Germany, on 26 January 2009 to promote rapid transition towards the widespread and sustainable use of renewable energy on a global scale.

 

The Assembly of IRENA is the ultimate decision-making authority and is made up of one representative from each of its over 110 Member-States. It assembles annually to discuss and decide upon issues such as the work programme, the budget, the adoption of reports, applications for membership and potential amendments to Agency activities.

Maldives, which is especially threatened by rising sea levels, is well known for its climate initiatives. In 2009, the Government of Maldives formed Climate Vulnerable Forum just prior to the major United Nations Copenhagen Summit, where it sought a heightened awareness and presence of the climate vulnerable nations. The then President Nasheed also held a cabinet meeting underwater to highlight the climate change issue for the world.

Maldives being selected as Vice Chair of IRENA is considered by many as a clear indication that importance is been given to countries who are extremely vulnerable to climate change. This will give Maldives a big platform to advocate for all those small island countries as well as other developing nations that face climate threat. IRENA will be an important opportunity for Maldives to represent countries who face the immediate effects of climate change. This is particularly relevant for countries in South Asia, in terms of lobby towards renewable energy initiatives by developed countries and putting it at the fore front of their agenda.

“I am really not sure whether it is going to give a very big thrust to renewable energy sector in South Asia. But it is an opportunity for South Asian region, particularly Maldives, to get maximum technology cooperation as well as financial assistance from the developed world,” opines Sumedha Basu, Policy coordinator, Climate Parliament.

According to Basu, if there is any country in the South Asian region that is taking concrete initiatives towards renewable energy then it is India, and to some extent Bangladesh. Hence, it is extremely critical that sufficient technology cooperation is extended from developed world to developing nations like India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

There is also a need of further cooperation between South Asian countries. Maldives is just starting on renewable energy, but it won’t be able to do it in a big way because of the limitations of the land and other resources but countries like India and Bangladesh and even Sri Lanka can do a lot in promoting renewable energy owing to abundance of resources. Not only this, the success of renewable energy initiatives then needs to be transferred to smaller countries like Bhutan and Maldives.

“South Asian countries are quite homogeneous in nature because of their environment, so transfer of successful renewable energy initiatives from countries like Bangladesh and India to South Asian countries who have not yet started on renewable energy will be of wider significance rather than replicating some initiative from the west,” Basu added. She also suggested that the South Asian countries should get together and form a South Asian regional renewable energy grid that could be helpful for renewable energy sector.

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