By Elenoa Dimaira

The transition of the Pacific to be carbon neutral must be just and equitable to ensure that livelihoods are not lost, says Secretariat of the Pacific Community Principal Strategic Lead, Women and Girls, Mereseini Rakuita.

“We need to look at the resources we have and understand how to adapt capabilities so that when we turn off our diesel generators and our power plants, our people still have jobs, that women have access to employment opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) sectors, who right now have much less access to employment,” Rakuita said at the opening of the 5th Pacific Regional Energy and Transport Ministers meeting in Port Vila, Vanuatu Monday.

“The Blue Pacific is at a critical juncture where we are facing the brunt of the global energy crisis in our region. Sixty-four percent of Pacific people still lack access to electricity and whilst this presents challenges around equitable access, it also presents us with an opportunity to accelerate our efforts towards renewable energy initiatives for both our energy and maritime sectors.”

The Pacific’s target to become carbon neutral by 2050 would be a challenge considering that the Blue Pacific covers over 42 million square kilometers of ocean with more than 50 percent of the population living in remote outer islands, maritime transport is the only viable means of transportation for most of the people.

“We must do this together and we must do this collectively. During the 51st Pacific Islands Forum, our Pacific leaders announced a collective aim to achieve a carbon neutral region by 2050. As a Pacific regional agency in science and technical capabilities, we stand with you in facing this enormous challenge,” Rakuita said.

“However, I’m filled with hope, because as Pacific people, we have always been leaders in driving genuine change all over the world. I am filled with hope for the opportunities the transition presents for employment opportunities. And I’m filled with hope for what it means for men and women, boys and girls, and future generations to live in energy independent region that has safe and sustainable services,” She said.