Island economies are small, discrete economies that share similar energy challenges. They may be geographical islands or economies that are not connected to the national grid.
The mission of Operation Smart Island Economies is to accelerate commercial opportunities for investment in clean energy on pioneering island economies of the world to achieve “Green Days”.
Our vision is a world where small island nations inspire the rest of the world by achieving sustainable development and resource independence by making the most efficient use of their own abundant natural resources.
Islands face increasing challenges arising from their dependence on imported fossil fuels, impacting the prices they pay for electricity and food, and the added demand that tourism makes on the island’s resources. The availability of natural resources for energy are of course in abundance on islands, but the implementation of systems to make this happen using an economy wide approach has so far been unsuccessful.
The technologies are there, and the resources are there, but for many islands, what’s missing is the expertise to select the right solutions, and the ability to attract investment and make transformation happen. The CWR seeks to bridge this gap by working with islands to identify the right solutions that can work together and provide a model for sustainability, and by reaching out to the technology providers able to deliver these systems. Bringing together the opportunities that transition off fossil fuels presents, we also work to attract investors to the island, making sure that the business environment is conducive to the flow of capital.
By developing low carbon pathways for sustainable growth on island, we want to work with governments to:
- Become more energy and water efficient;
- Provide cheaper and cleaner energy for people living on the island;
- Boost the economy by creating jobs and supporting local business, offering cheaper energy costs for investors;
- Develop sustainable tourist destinations;
- Turn waste into valued resources, and;
- Develop a low carbon platform for resilient and healthy communities.
Our focus on breaking down market barriers aims to present technology providers with the unique islands opportunity to showcase their solutions, bringing worldwide attention to their technologies, and demonstrating the economic viability of these models, which will develop a blueprint for islands across the world.
The Rio Commitment
At Rio+20, following the announcement that Aruba would become the pilot nation for the Smart Island Economies operation, Christiana Figueres Executive Secretary UNFCCC shared the stage with Sir Richard Branson, CWR Founder and Jose Maria Figueres, CWR President, and threw down a challenge for CWR to be working with ten islands by 2014 to accelerate transition off fossil fuels. The CWR readily accepted this commitment and so the Ten Island Challenge commenced!
The Ten Island Challenge
By working with islands to set a remarkable example to the rest of the world that reduced dependency on fossil fuels is not just possible, but also profitable, we aim to develop a blueprint for islands bringing together solutions and replicable models that provides the roadmap for islands…. and larger infrastructures.
Our Ten Island Challenge calls for will and commitment from island nations seeking to work with us to accelerate their transition off fossil fuels and grow their economies in a way which is sustainable and which delivers an inspirational effect across the globe.
“Climate change…the biggest economic opportunity of our generation.” Jose Maria Figueres, President, Carbon War Room
Joining the Ten Island Challenge
Island economies are some of the most vulnerable to effects of climate change but are also the perfect size to demonstrate sustainable solutions across an entire economy.
The CWR believe now is a unique time for the transition of islands off fossil fuels. We know that:
- The renewable technologies are ready
- It's profitable…delivering green economy benefits to the island and to the private sector
- Island nations are ready to make a commitment which increases the economic, environmental and social resilience for future generations
What makes a Smart Island EconomyImpact
The CWR wants to work with islands where we can make difference-where the benefits of transformation will have real benefits for the environment, for the economy and in every household. As well as reducing carbon emissions on island, we’re keen to work with island nations where a reduced dependency on fossil fuels can help to lower and stabilise energy prices and keep the economy’s wealth on island. The Ten Island Challenge aims to create a blueprint for islands, and so each island is also carefully selected for the learning effects they can bring to this process-looking at different population sizes, and the different demand characteristics for energy.Skill and Will
The focus of Smart Island Economies is to accelerate implementation of renewables, working with forward thinking island nations to mobilise their existing plans, identifying the barriers in the market and demonstrating successful installation. We want to work with governments who clearly have the will and commitment to make this happen, working with the CWR to employ a transparent process that brings the best solutions to the island through a competitive bidding process. We are looking for islands that are ready, able and willing to commit, with a clear mandate and consensus across the island.Readiness and Transformation
Many islands have already recognised their potential to make use of their abundant natural resources, and we want to be able to work with those islands who have already started planning how to employ these. We will be looking at the level of projects planned, or already under way, and working with governments to help them achieve their first green hour, green day…all key milestones towards their sustainable future.
We want to focus on breaking down the barriers that have prevented islands from moving forward with their programmes so far, and support them in becoming more attractive to partners, investors and technology providers…making the economy one that motivates the flow of private capital.Shared Vision
Alignment of the island’s vision and plans with CWR’s objectives for Smart Island Economies is critical. We recognise that many islands face difficult decisions about their sustainable futures. Some of the pathways islands may be considering can present real bottlenecks or conflicts to their pursuit of low carbon development, and the role of natural gas in the future of islands is one of these issues. For more information about natural gas, please click here.
““I believe in our resourcefulness and in our capacity to invent solutions to the problems we have created.”
Sir Richard Branson, Founder, Carbon War Room
Since the announcement at Rio+20 last June, the CWR have been working with the Government of Aruba to develop a shared vision, and focus on identifying pathways in the Energy sector. Working with our expert team, we developed the Smart Growth Pathways document, which is currently under review by the Government, and which will provide a focus for engaging stakeholders on island. To lead the work on the ground, we recruited an on island Project Manager, Paul Arends, in post since February this year, bringing together technical expertise and project management skills to drive progress locally. The provision of project management on island is integral to the delivery of Smart Island Aruba and underpins our commitment to achieving key milestones for the island.
As we look forward to commencing a robust stakeholder engagement process in Aruba, Paul is key to coordinating local business interest and capturing the opportunities and local will to implement the island’s Smart Island Strategy, which will provide a planning tool for low carbon development as a platform for Sustainable Aruba. Paul has over 28 years of technical and operation management experience and lives in Aruba.
Greening Necker Island
The recent RFP for Necker Island, which called for renewable energy solutions to be deployed on Sir Richard Branson’s own island home has created a real buzz in the market, bringing together the creativity and innovation in the market, with companies keen to be part of a model that can be showcased and scaled up for other islands.
Recent corporate events in the US and in Europe focussed on the Islands Opportunity have generated a real excitement among technology providers and investors all keen to be part of an initiative that presents a potential demonstration site for cutting edge innovation to stand alongside proven systems as a model for sustainable energy.