JOINT PRESS STATEMENT [Apia, Samoa, Friday 17th June 2011] Samoa is the first country to access US$4million under the Pacific Environment Community (PEC) Fund.

The PEC Fund is a commitment by the Government of Japan of ¥6.8 billion (approx US$66 million) to support Forum Island Country (FIC) projects with a focus on the provision of solar power generation systems and sea water desalination plants, or a combination of both.

At the signing ceremony held today in Apia to secure Samoa's financial allocation, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, congratulated Samoa for being the first FIC to access its indicative country allocation of US$4 million under the PEC Fund.

"I also take this opportunity to thank the Government of Japan and its people for this generous contribution, which will no doubt assist the Government of Samoa in its efforts to reduce carbon emissions through the use of renewable energy options, and reduce its reliance on fossil fuels."

Mr Slade added that he looked forward to other countries of the region tapping into the PEC Fund.

"It is encouraging to note that most countries are making significant progress in the development of their detailed project proposals to access the PEC Fund and the Secretariat looks forward to receiving them in due course."

Also at the signing ceremony in Apia was Japan's Ambassador to Fiji, H.E. Yutaka Yoshizawa, who welcomed Samoa's good work in being the first to access the PEC Fund.

"I wish Samoa success in the implementation of this project, so that this will be a great model for future projects funded by the PEC Fund," said Ambassador Yutaka Yoshizawa. "I hope that many other projects under the PEC Fund will be formalised in the near future for all 14 Forum Island Countries."

Ambassador Yoshizawa is responsible for Japan-PIF relations while stationed in Fiji.

Samoa's project
The US$4 million PEC Fund allocation for Samoa will go towards the "Samoa 400kWp Solar PV Project", to be managed by Samoa's electricity supplier, the Electric Power Corporation (EPC).

It is anticipated that this project will reduce the EPC's and Samoa's reliance on fossil fuels for power generation, resulting in significant fuel and electricity cost savings.

"This project will provide a number of benefits to the EPC and people of Samoa," said Samoa's Minister for Works, Transport, Infrastructure and Utilities, Honourable Manualesagalala Enokati Posala.

"It is expected that this project will displace approximately 135,000 litres of fuel per annum. This represents SAT 350,000 (approx.US$150,000) in fuel cost savings as well as a reduction in harmful greenhouse gas emissions."

EPC General Manager, Muaausa Joseph Walter, said Samoa relies heavily on imported fossil fuels to meet its energy needs including power generation.

"About 40% of Samoa's total electricity production is generated from hydro, with the rest from two diesel power plants and a very small percentage from solar power," said Mr Walter.

"With the unpredictable price of fuel and the impact of climate change and climate variability on the region, the Electric Power Corporation has faced a number of problems in trying to provide reliable and affordable electricity to its customers.

"Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is a proven technology and with the abundant resource available, Samoa can benefit from the additional and secure energy supply."

Mitigating effects of climate change
Secretary General Slade further welcomed Samoa's efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change through the use of renewable energy to displace the use of fossil fuels.

"In their Call to Action in 2009, Forum Leaders declared climate change as the great challenge of our time, for it threatens not only our vulnerable livelihoods, economies and environment but the very viability of some Pacific communities," said Mr Slade.

"It is well-acknowledged that the role of our island nations in the causes of global climate change is miniscule, though the impact on them is great and the security and sustainability of our countries highly at risk.

"Now is the time to act and I commend the Government of Samoa for all its efforts to mitigate against the impacts of climate change through the generous contribution of the Government of Japan."

Linking national, regional and international priorities
"For a project such as this one to be effective and sustainable, clear linkages need to be established between the relevant national, regional and international development priorities," added Mr Slade.

"Samoa's project does exactly this, by linking the Strategy for the Development of Samoa 2008-12 and the Samoa National Energy Policy, with international and regional policies and plans, including the Millennium Development Goals, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Pacific Plan, Pacific Islands Framework for Action on Climate Change 2006 - 15 and the recently endorsed Framework for Action on Energy Security in the Pacific."

Mr Slade added that making such linkages was also in line with Forum Leaders' commitment under the Forum Compact on Strengthening Development Coordination endorsed in 2009.

"I encourage the implementers of Samoa's 400kWp solar PV project, EPC, to continually report on the impacts and outcomes of this project through the various national, regional and international instruments, and wish the Government of Samoa every success in the implementation of this important project."

Japan's commitment
In May of 2009 Pacific Islands Forum Leaders met with the Government of Japan at the 5th Pacific Island Leaders Meeting (PALM 5) in Hokkaido, Japan. At the PALM 5 Summit, Leaders issued the Islanders' Hokkaido Declaration which reaffirmed Leaders' commitment to collaborate and cooperate on a wide range of issues.

A significant part of the Declaration was the launch of the PEC Fund, under which Japan provided a ¥6.8billion (approximately US$66 million) contribution to Forum Island Countries to tackle environmental issues. These funds will be used to support projects with a focus on the provision of solar power generation systems and sea water desalination plants.

A PEC Project Management Unit (PMU) has been set up at the Forum Secretariat in Suva, Fiji, tasked with administering and managing the PEC Fund. The PMU is guided by a Joint Committee (JC), chaired by the Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat. The JC comprises senior representatives of the Japanese Government and the Forum Secretariat. A Technical Advisory Group (TAG) comprising nominated experts in the fields of climate change, renewable energy, water and sanitation has been set up to appraise project proposals and make recommendations to the JC.

Accessing the PEC Fund
Access to individual country allocations under the PEC Fund is undertaken in a two phase process. Phase one involves submission of project Concept Notes from FICs to the Forum Secretariat. Once appraised by the PEC Project Management Unit and a Technical Advisory Group (TAG), and if the outcome is positive, the FIC is then invited to progress to phase two which involves the development of a detailed project proposal for consideration and final approval by the PEC Fund Joint Committee.