The Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Energy and Public Utilities, Dr Rashid Beebeejaun, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Dr Arvin Boolell, and the Head of UNOSD, Mr Yoon Jong Soo, the Executive Chairman of MID Commission, Mr Osman Mahomed, amongst others, graced the opening ceremony.
The five-day workshop is being hosted for the benefits of some 26 policy-makers from about ten island states, mostly from the Indian Ocean basin. The event also provides the opportunity to develop a FFRE capacity building and collaborative policy making methodology, to be re-used with other thematic or regional groups of countries. Furthermore, it will provide case studies to inform ongoing UNOSD research on the political economy of policy reforms.
The UNOSD contributes to building, exchanging and facilitating the use of knowledge in support of transitions to sustainability. It also specialises on mapping, connecting and improving exchange of knowledge resources, providing advices to Member States and the broader policy communities on sharing and applying such resources, and conducting research and capacity development in sustainability transitions.
In his opening address, the Deputy Prime Minister, stressed that Mauritius is a small island which relies on its resources apart from importing fossil fuel like all other SIDS. Fossil fuel will stay here for another fifty years, he said, adding that using less polluting alternatives are very costly.
According to Minister Beebeejaun, much more research in the field of renewable energy is a must, so as to make it more affordable and reliable. He also announced that two deep ocean water applications for Mauritius are in the pipeline.
For his part, Dr Boolell underscored that SIDS are highly vulnerable states, and that we all need to work together and press on all stakeholders regarding climate change. “We must move from development goals to sustainable development goals” he said, adding that however, there need to be clear cut strategies to combat climate change.
The Head of UNOSD stated that this capacity-building process is timely, for both Member State governments and UNOSD, as a strong momentum is building within the UN System and green economy industry to accelerate the transition to low-emission, renewable energy sources. There is a need for developing countries, in SIDS and elsewhere, to anticipate and benefit from this trend, minimising their dependence on fossil fuels and maximising the impact of early planning and investments, he underlined.
Mr Mahomed, for his part, highlighted that Mauritius has strived hard throughout the years to maintain its energy security, adding that as the country develops, it's reliance on fossil fuel has also increased even for the production of electricity.
Mauritius, he stated, is also set to diversify its electricity mix to include more renewable energy. In this context, a gross investment of Rs 5 billion, totaling some 65 MW for projects on renewable energy by the private sector is being made and these will be partly be offset by a subsidy of Rs 5 billion by the Government over the next 20 years. These investments, according to the projections of the CEB will allow Mauritius to increase its share of renewable energy from 17% currently to 23% by the end of 2015, underlined the Executive Chairman of the Commission.
According to Mr Mahomed, this subsidy has become affordable because of an MID levy imposed on petroleum products and coal. This cross subsidising arrangement, he underscored, has brought the International Monetary Fund to recognise Mauritius as a pioneer in the development of green taxes in its Staff Report for 2012.