(EnergyAsia, May 17 2012, Thursday) — Supported by the UN and several developed countries, 20 small island developing nations have declared their intention to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, develop the use of renewable energy and develop the economy at the same time.

The Barbados Declaration, named after the venue of last week’s conference organised by the Barbados government and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), was adopted ahead of next month’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development ‘Rio+20’.

The 20 small island states will work on switching to hydro, solar, geothermal or other renewable energy sources to free up to the equivalent of 30% of their GDP being expended on oil imports.

“The savings can be then invested into jobs in sectors such as clean energy, improved health care and education, stronger safety nets for people whose livelihoods will be affected by the phase out of fossil fuels, adaptation to climate change, and other programmes,” said the UNDP.

Barbados, the conference’s host country, announced its plan to increase the share of renewable energy to meet 29% of its electricity consumption by 2029.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said:

“By 2029, we expect that total electricity costs would have been cut by US$283.5 million and carbon dioxide emissions would have been reduced by 4.5 million tons. We also envisage an overall 22% reduction in projected electricity consumption based on the use of energy efficiency measures.

Maldives committed to achieve carbon neutrality in the energy sector by 2020, while Marshall Island aim to electrify all urban households and 95% of rural outer a toll households by 2015.

Mauritius committed to increasing the share of renewable energy sources to 35% or more by 2025 while Seychelles said it aims to produce 15% of energy supply from renewable sources by 2030.

The declaration recognises the importance of the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative and that energy challenges have to be resolved as a group through open dialogue and cooperation.

The Barbados Declaration emphasises that there are commercially feasible options in many small island states for providing energy such as wind, solar, geothermal, and oceans energy.

“However, these technologies must be made accessible, affordable and adaptable to the needs and particular circumstances of member communities.

“We strongly urge the international community, particularly developed countries, to ensure the provision of financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building to small island developing states (SIDS).

The two-day conference  brought together more than 100 heads of state, ministers, leading development experts, civil society activists, business executives and UN officials from 39 countries from the Caribbean, the Pacific, Indian Ocean, and Africa, that belong to the SIDS group.

“Our global presence, expertise in capacity building, and extensive development finance experience allow us to help small island development states in their transformation toward sustainable energy for all, by supporting them to develop capacities to attract investments,” said Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.