IRENA and UNWTO to Promote Renewable Energy in Islands Tourism Sector

02 September 2014| Press Release


Apia, Samoa, September 2: The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an intergovernmental organization dedicated to supporting countries’ efforts to adopt renewable energy, and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the United Nations specialized agency for tourism, have joined forces to promote the use of renewable energy on islands.

In a Joint Statement on Renewable Energy and Tourism in Islands, released at the Third UN Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Samoa, IRENA and UNWTO committed to encourage investment in cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions that reduce the reliance of islands on carbon-emitting fossil fuel.

Islands are burdened by high energy costs due to their reliance on costly imported diesel fuel. In spite of efforts to improve energy efficiency, more than 90% of SIDS´ energy consumption is met through oil imports, which represent up to 20% of their annual imports. Many islands have goals to expand the use of renewable energy options and reduce this oil dependency. Since tourism is an economic mainstay for many islands, investment in such options by hotels is key to achieving these goals. Renewable options for water heating, air conditioning and electricity generation can cut hotel operating costs, advance sustainability while making them more appeling for tourists.

The Statement also calls for hotels to document the energy savings and cost reductions from these applications and to share the information through the Global Renewable Energy Islands Network (GREIN). Finally, it recalls that greater investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy is fundamental to build a more sustainable, competitive and resilient tourism sector worldwide, and particularly, in islands.

UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai (at left in photograph) and IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin signed a joint statement on 2 September paving the way for cooperation with hotels and tourism authorities to encourage investments in renewable energy solutions for tourism.

In signing the Statement, IRENA Director-General, Adnan Z. Amin, and UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai paved the way to cooperation with hotels and tourism authorities in pursuit of these aims.  “Investment by island hotels is vital to demonstrating the business case for renewable energy, which is essential to addressing the burden of costly fossil fuels that inhibits islands’ economic and social development,” said Mr. Amin.

“Tourism is a primary economic sector for many SIDS and a dominant force driving inclusive socio-economic growth. Yet, sustainable tourism development in small islands continues to face many challenges; one of the major ones is their high dependence on fossil fuel. The synergy of tourism and renewable energy represents a powerful force that will pave the way for win-win solutions in driving the sustainable agenda of islands forward,” said Mr Rifai.

In 2013, 41 million international tourists visited the SIDS, generating US$ 61 billion in foreign earnings. Tourism accounts for over 20% of the GDP of 16 out of 48 SIDS for which data is available and 9% of total SIDS exports.

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Useful links:

UNWTO Sustainable Development of Tourism Programme http://sdt.unwto.org/

UNWTO Hotel Energy Solutions: http://hotelenergysolutions.net/ 

Contacts:

IRENA Chief Communications Officer: Timothy Hurst
Tel (+971) 2 417 9966 / THurst@irena.org

UNWTO Senior Media Officer: Marcelo Risi
Tel: (+34) 91 567 81 60 / mrisi@UNWTO.org

UNWTO Communications & Publications Programme
Tel: (+34) 91 567 8100 / Fax: +34 91 567 8218 / comm@UNWTO.org

About the International Renewable Energy Agency
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is mandated as the global hub for renewable energy cooperation and information exchange by 132 Members (131 States and the European Union). About 40 additional countries are in the accession process and actively engaged. IRENA supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, and serves as the principal platform for international cooperation, a centre of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy. The Agency promotes the widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy, including bioenergy, geothermal, hydropower, ocean, solar and wind energy in the pursuit of sustainable development, energy access, energy security and low-carbon economic growth and prosperity.  www.irena.org

About UNWTO
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), a United Nations specialized agency, is the leading international organization with the decisive and central role in promoting the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. It serves as a global forum for tourism policy issues and a practical source of tourism know-how. Its membership includes 156 countries, 6 territories, 2 permanent observers and over 400 Affiliate Members. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo and Flickr.