APEC report reveals Pacific Islands’ potential to step up as a role model for transitioning to zero-carbon power and mobility

Rich endowment of renewable energy sources, independence from the mainland’s carbon-intensive infrastructure, and high costs of current system place Pacific Islands at a lead position to reach a sustainable energy and transport future quickly.


BERLIN (15 December 2020) – Pacific Islands have advantages to quickly transition to zero-carbon energy and transportation systems, according to a new report published by Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

This is the first roadmap ever produced that focuses on opportunities for integration of energy and transport systems in Pacific islands.

The research consortium that produced the report is led by SD Strategies, a Berlin-based think tank working on policy solutions that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. Contributors include Reiner Lemoine Institute, a non-profit organization working towards a 100 % Renewable Energy future, and SLOCAT Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport, a multi-stakeholder partnership of over 90 institutional members. The project is also supported by Low Emission Development Strategies Global Partnership (LEDS GP) and U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

There is no reason to wait”, says Alexander Ochs, managing director of SD Strategies and lead author of the study. “Pacific islands have every reason to act quickly and ambitiously: They are paying a high price for inefficient, unsustainable, and often unreliable energy and transport services.”

Comparing the advantages of following the roadmap to problems of the status quo, Ochs emphasizes that the smarter future is inevitable. However, making the roadmap a reality requires governments’ determination and confidence: “Today, Pacific islands have to import fossil fuels at high, unwarranted costs and pay for the consequences of detrimental effects on the health of local populations and surrounding ecosystems. In a smarter future, electricity generated by renewable sources will power, heat, and cool homes and businesses at affordable costs. Power saved by energy efficiency will be saved in batteries to fuel electric vehicles (EVs).”

The report, “Roadmap for the Integration of Sustainable Energy and Transport in Small Islands”, first highlights the economic, social and environmental benefits from transitioning to EV-based mobility based on domestic renewable energy. “To be successful, we need to take a people-centric approach, placing human well-being and the empowerment women and marginal communities at the forefront of the energy development agenda.”, says Ochs.

The transition will lower the costs of  energy production and transportation. Moreover, the transition will have a tremendous effect on improving public health and local job creating. Most importantly, the transition is crucial for meeting Paris Agreement goals and protecting biodiversity.

The roadmap uses Avoid-Shift-Improve (ASI) tool in Sustainable Island Mobility Plans (SIMPs) to consider the role of EVs within the system, and the multi-criteria decision making (MCDM) to evaluate different development options based on effective stakeholder dialogue. These tools allow governments to consider and apply country-specific conditions and contexts to develop their own sustainable energy and transport transition plans.

Ochs emphasizes that planning and implementation of the joint transition to sustainable energy and transportation systems require collaboration across all levels of governance. To strengthen regional and international collaboration, and to better understand the needs of individual Pacific islands, SD Strategies and its partners had conducted a workshop with 30 representatives from APEC countries on 14 and 15 January 2020, in Washington, DC.

To exemplify island challenges and opportunities, the group also produced three energy and transport profiles for the islands of Cat Ba Island (Vietnam), Rapa Nui (or Easter Island, Chile), and Romblon (Philippines).


The roadmap is available at: https://www.apec.org/Publications/2020/11/Roadmap-for-the-Integration-of-Sustainable-Energy-and-Transport-in-Small-Islands

More information on the project, including the island profiles and workshop documentation, can be found on SD Strategies’ website at https://www.sd-strategies.com/apec-project/.

For an interview with Alexander Ochs, please contact us at +49 30 206 1648-30 or press@sd-strategies.com.