The Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Pacific are undergoing significant change as they seek to become more sustainable and resilient to risks and disturbances from natural disasters and the effects of climate change. As a key component of sustainable development, Kiribati and Samoa have made commitments under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to increase the proportion of their populations with access to clean and sustainable sources of energy and to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Consistent with these objectives, and with increasing donor assistance in the region, both Kiribati and Samoa have invested in new forms of renewable energy sources. These include the use of solar PV, wind, bioenergy and hydro (in Samoa). To understand the challenges and types of investment that will improve the socioeconomic outcomes of their citizens, a wide range of stakeholders were interviewed in Kiribati and Samoa. While responses were diverse on many fronts, renewable energy was considered by stakeholders in both countries as the way of the future, a way of improving socio-economic outcomes for the most vulnerable households and communities, and a way of managing risks and improving resilience. In particular, access to clean and sustainable sources of energy were seen as being critical in improving education, health, and safety outcomes for women, children, and youth, who typically bear the brunt of energy poverty, particularly in relation to access to electricity.
Notwithstanding these benefits and despite their diversity, both Kiribati and Samoa face a number of common challenges, including dealing with rapid urbanisation and capacity constraints. In Kiribati, these challenges have become increasingly complicated as a result of extremely high population densities in South Tarawa, inadequate infrastructure, and environmental degradation, due to climate change (rising sea levels) and other anthropogenic impacts. In Samoa, risks from extreme climatic events and natural disasters have led to increased levels of resilience building led by governance strengthening and the dissemination of key information to communities. The report puts forward a small number of renewable energy initiatives that have the potential to improve sustainable development and resilience in both countries and strengthen the robustness of their electricity sectors