18 January 2022
The 13th International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Assembly Meeting take place from January 13 to January 15, 2023, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The overarching theme of the Assembly is “World Energy Transition – The Global Stocktake,” bringing together heads of state, government, ministers, and decision-makers in the energy sector from its Member States, as well as from multilateral organizations, international stakeholders, and private actors, to assess operational plans and policies and to highlight the concerted efforts made to implement the energy transition in various nations, regions, and the global level.
The Honourable Prime Minister of Tonga and Acting Minister for Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change, and Communication, Hu’akavamei, led the delegation to
the 13th Assembly of the IRENA Session. He was joined by the Honourable ‘Akau’ola – Ambassador of Tonga to the UAE, Mr. Kakau Foliaki – Director of Energy, Mr. Sione Sonata Tupou- Minister Counsellor, and Ms. ‘Ofa Finau – PMO.
13th January, 2023
The Hon Prime Minister took part in the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Ministerial session of the IRENA Assembly. In his position as the Prime Minister of Tonga and President of the SIDS-DOCK, the Hon. Prime Minister delivered the opening remarks at the at the SIDS Ministerial. He reiterated a number of previously stated climate commitments that have failed to meet its promises, and with the majority of climate financing flowing to rich countries while SIDS are left behind. He emphasized that PICs have particular difficulties and conditions, and that they must receive specific attention because SIDS are the group most negatively impacted by climate change. The audience enthusiastically applauded the Hon. Prime Minister’s comment.
14th January, 2023
High Level Plenary 2023
The 13th IRENA Assembly Meeting officially opened on January 14, 2023. The Honourable Prime Minister discussed the difficulties that Tonga and other small island developing governments faced as a result of the global energy transition during a High-Level Plenary Session. Leading up to the COP28, the Hon. Prime Minister muses on the need of industrialized countries comprehending the primary objectives of the energy
transition in the varied geographical and sectoral settings of tiny island states. Although he acknowledges the desire and dedication of SIDS and PICs to attaining their national energy targets and NDC, he feels that more attention should be devoted to ensuring that people, especially the poorest households, have access to electricity and climate finance. International leaders, including Mr. John Kerry from the United States, H.E. Frans Timmerman (EU Vice President) were part of the panels.
Member Country’s Statement to the Assembly
Tonga’s member statement was read out by the Director of Energy to the Assembly highlighting the significant commitment and achievement of the country’s shift to sustainable energy. Tonga’s statement emphasized that given the current global oil crises, natural catastrophe issues, and worldwide pandemic that Tonga experienced, it is imperative to create and ensure a more reliable, strong, and affordable energy infrastructure. He made references to the need for public and private partnerships, the exploration of alternative sources such as wave energy, and the government and development partners’ commitment to ensuring that poor households are not left behind. He also alluded to the need for easier access to climate finance. Tonga sets its national target of meeting 70% of renewable energy by 2025 and 100% by 2045.
Tonga a member of the IRENA Council, 2023 – 2024
For the years 2023 to 2024, Tonga was elected to the council. The IRENA Council is in charge of facilitating communication and cooperation among IRENA Members. It also oversees the organization’s work program, budget, and annual report. Tonga considers this significant since it would benefit not only Tonga but also our neighboring Pacific Island nations and SIDS in terms of the deployment of renewable energy sources, achieving national energy objectives, and NDC commitments.
Bilateral meeting with the World Green Economy Organization
HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, the chairman of the World Green Energy Organization, and the Hon. Prime Minister held a bilateral meeting. The bilateral conversation included, Tonga’s membership, prospective aid to Tonga in the areas of capacity building, technical assistance, and the potential establishment of the WEO regional hub in the Pacific to support the region’s requirements for renewable energy and green economy. The World Green Economy Organization (WGEO) is a comprehensive platform to appeals from the worldwide community for an all-encompassing strategy to advance understanding of how and why a green economy is the greatest path for the world to a secure and prosperous future.
Bilateral meeting with the World Green Economy Organization
The Hon. Prime Minister had bilateral talks with the European Union (EU) Vice President, H.E. Frans Timmermans. The Honorable Prime Minister acknowledges the significant support of the European Union Tonga in relation to the financial support of 8 million euros for Tonga’s energy development, financial support for the development of the Tonga Energy Act, implementation of the Tonga Energy Road Map Plus, 2021–2035. They also discussed possibility of alternative renewable energy sources such as wave energy, floating solar, and pump storage is also investigated.
15th January, 2023
MASDAR City Visit
The Hon. Prime Minister traveled to MASDAR City on the 15th and was hosted by Khaled Ballaith, Director of Special Projects at Masdar. MASDAR City is one of the most eco-friendly and sustainable cities in the world. The city has been at the forefront of technologies to create greener, more sustainable urban life. It is also a center for research and development. In addition to a commercial free zone, a residential area with eateries, stores, and open green spaces, the City is home to a fast expanding clean-tech cluster. In collaboration with the MASDAR City will contribute significantly to Tonga.
Tonga Embassy Visit, Etihad Tower
The Honorable Ambassador ‘Akau’ola and Minister Counselor, Sione Sonata Tupou greeted the Honorable Prime Minister when he arrived at the Tonga Embassy in the Etihad Tower. Discussions about the potential attachment program for civil employees from the Ministry of MEIDECC to the Embassy about renewable energy occurred during the visit. The embassy would benefit from the program’s assistance in working with IRENA and the UAE government. They will also looks at exposure to advanced technologies for energy efficiency and renewable energy that may be relevant in Tonga.
Bilateral meeting with the ADB Vice President, Mr Ahmed Saeed
The Hon. Prime Minister and H.E. Ahmed Saeed, vice president of the Asian Development Bank, had private discussions to strengthen the collaboration between both parties. The Honorable Prime Minister recognizes the important assistance provided by the ADB to Tonga, particularly in the fields of energy and health. The potential for further research into alternative renewable energy sources, such
as wave energy, conducting integrated system studies to determine the best possible energy mix to meet Tonga’s target, regional climate finance, and assistance in organizing a roundtable of regional leaders to discuss issues to be brought up at the COP28 were all topics that were discussed by the two parties.
16th January, 2023
Abu Dhabi Sustainable Week
The Tonga delegation attended the 2023 Zayed Sustainability Prize Awards and the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president of the UAE, is the event’s sponsor. He has promoted sustainability as a vital pillar of the UAE’s economic and social success and prosperity. This will take place in conjunction with the Zayed Sustainability Prize Awards, and the Honourable Prime Minister was among the international leaders who ascended the platform to present prizes to each prize winner. A series of high-level sessions centered on the top priorities for sustainable development will be held this week in preparation for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), which will be held in the UAE from November 30 to December 12. This is part of a global initiative to accelerate sustainable development that is being championed by the UAE and Masdar, the country’s clean energy powerhouse.
Bilateral meeting with the Director General of IRENA, Mr Francesco La Camera
The Hon. Prime Minister and Francesco La Camera, Director General of IRENA, had a bilateral meeting to examine potential ways to strengthen IRENA’s role in the Pacific area. The Honorable
Prime Minister acknowledges IRENA’s significant help to Tonga and SIDS. Even though IRENA created the IRENA lighthouse, local technicians have only received a little amount of support. The Honorable Prime Minister further stressed the need for PICs to have greater access to the Pacific Regional Climate Finance. He also underlined the necessity of ocean energy, corporate sector support, and expanded project implementation.
Bilateral meeting with the Minster of State UAE, HE Ahmed Alsayegh
The Hon. Prime Minister discussed future international cooperation with HE Ahmed Alsayegh, UAE Minister of State. HE Alsavegh acknowledged the Tongan Government’s assistance in making the Dubai Expo successful. The Honorable Prime Minister expresses gratitude to the UAE government for supporting the Tonga Embassy and its employees in UAE. He also stressed the significance of Pacific high schools and other sectors having a significant presence in the Zayed Sustainable Competition. Other meeting topics included regional climate financing, setting up a roundtable of regional leaders, financial support for alternative renewable energy sources including wave and offshore wind, and ongoing support for the COP28.