SVG ambassador attends  Vienna Energy Forum in Austria
June 19, 2015
SVG ambassador attends Vienna Energy Forum in Austria

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of St Vincent and the Grenadines to the United Nations (UN) I Rhonda King, who also serves as interim chair of the SIDS DOCK Island Women Open Network (IWON), is presently in Vienna, Austria, attending the Vienna Energy Forum 2015 (VEF 2015), under the theme: “Sustainable Energy for Inclusive Development.”{{more}}

The theme provides an ideal opportunity to increase awareness about the exceptional resilient attitude of Island Women, despite their special vulnerabilities and mounting challenges faced due to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. The IWON is part of the organizational structure of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Sustainable Energy and Climate Resilience Initiative, SIDS DOCK, and was developed under the Denmark-funded SIDS DOCK Support Program.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) – the SIDS DOCK Institutional Partner – and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the operational unit of Austrian Development Cooperation, are the organizers of the VEF 2015, which will take place only a few months before the Sustainable Development Goals Summit in New York, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP 21) in Paris. By emphasizing the multiple benefits of the Post-2015 Development and the Climate Agenda and by showcasing best practices and actions on the ground, the VEF 2015 aims at contributing to both.

On this occasion, the ambassador will seek the highest level of political commitment and leadership for gender equality and women’s empowerment in Island Nations, and will request donors and development partners to re-think how we report on Island Women in sustainable development and energy in the context of being recognized by the UN as a distinct group of countries. In declaring 2014, the International Year of the SIDS, the UN also created recognition of climate change as a detrimental factor to Island Nations and our development. Lack of access to energy and affordability, climate change and gender inequality are inextricably linked in that they create obstacles to achieving poverty reduction and development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Furthermore, climate change makes existing inequalities worse and generally slows progress toward gender equality. Similarly, gender inequality aggravates the impacts of climate change. Therefore, attempts to ensure gender equality can help to reduce the impacts of climate change.

The SIDS DOCK IWON is intended to help build the capacity of women at the community and grassroots levels in Island Nations to participate in the transformation of the SIDS energy sector. The objective is to ensure that gender equality issues are integrated in the concept, design, implementation and evaluation of sustainable energy and climate change-related projects in the USD 1.6 billion SIDS DOCK Indicative Project Pipeline, by establishing a SIDS association that provides networking opportunities that promote empowerment of women to help build community resilience to a changing climate and sea level rise through capacity building, education and awareness, demonstration of SIDS-Appropriate Technologies, and financing for sustainable energy projects. The research and start-up phase of building the organizational structure for the SIDS DOCK and setting out its framework of operations show that without the active participation of women, it will be impossible for Island Nations to transition to Sustainable Energy For All and to achieve the SIDS DOCK goals to increase energy efficiency by 25 per cent (2005 baseline) and to generate a minimum of 50 per cent of electric power from renewable sources and a 50 per cent decrease in conventional transportation fuel use by 2033: Island Energy for Island Life 25-50-25 by 2033.