Thinking beyond the norm: Linking energy systems and environmental implications

20 April 2011 | News story

Proactive rather than reactive planning is needed to ensure that energy systems go in the right places,” said Anare Matakiviti, IUCN Oceania Energy Programme Coordinator in opening the regional workshop on “Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for renewable energy projects” held in Nadi, Fiji in April.

During the weeklong meeting, energy and environment practitioners from seven Pacific Island Countries were made aware of typical environmental and social concerns for energy projects.

The challenge laid to participants was “think beyond these typical technical outcomes” of energy projects to ensure compatibility with environmental and social wellbeing.

Pacific Island Countries (PICs) are the most petroleum dependent countries in the world with figures for imported oil reaching 100% for national commercial energy use. Renewable energy has been recognized regionally as an important alternative to reduce fuel imports driving most PICs to explore various renewable systems and technologies.

“It is important for the Pacific to develop secure and renewable energy systems,” said Larissa Brisbane, Senior Energy Programme Officer of IUCN Oceania Regional Office. “But true sustainable energy requires us to consider the people and their needs, and the environment around us. Good planning can help us to have benefits now without unexpected future impacts.”

Participants focused on actual examples and technologies, assessing their consequences for their respective island nations. Issues discussed ranged from good management of rivers and streams, through to the differing perspectives of men and women.

The ultimate aim of the workshop was to encourage working together and for participants to consider all aspects (social, economical, and environmental) to make energy projects more sustainable.

For more information contact Larissa Bribane, larissa.brisbane@iucn.org