What do you know of the Marshall Islands?

I am starting a little series today where we will introduce Asian-Pacific small (island) counties and their recent development in terms of renewable energy and efficiency, based on some articles written by Daphné Barbotte,  Junior Policy and Communication Officer at the Southeast Asia and Pacific Secretariat of REEEP which contribute to the “Encyclopedia of Energy 2012”.

The Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) consists of two archipelagic islands and several rural outer atolls in the Northern Pacific Ocean. In 1986 independence was attained under a Compact of Free Association with the United States. In 1956, the Atomic Energy Commission regarded the Marshall Islands as “by far the most contaminated place in the world”.This is due to the numerous tests of nuclear weapons the U.S. has conducted there after World War 2, including the largest nuclear test ever in Castle Bravo. The United States’ first hydrogen bomb totally destroyed the island of Elugelab.

With a population of about 65.000 nationwide 63% have access to electric power, but in rural areas this drops to only 12%.

The main reason for this rather low access is the fact that the country is much depended on expensive oil imports which exacerbated in the 2008 fuel crisis. In a response the Marshallese government devised a policy called the Maluro Energy Declaration in 2009 which maps out the path to more energy security and efficiency.

A main goal is the electrification of 100% in urban areas and 95% in rural areas by 2015. Of this, 20% is to come from indigenous renewable sources by 2020.  Donor agencies such as the Asian development Bank (ADB) support this with photovoltaic systems.

The RMI Climate Change Roadmap 2010 is a national framework coordinating this with the implementation of start-up finance and was established by the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) in 2009 as part of the Copenhagen Accord. This fast-start finance system supports developing countries with technology transfer, monies and adaptation from developed countries.


The National Energy Policy and Energy Action Plan (NEP) further seek to improve efficiency in 50% of private buildings and 75% of government buildings by 2020.

Successful campaigns from 2002-2006 were also supported by REEEP by raising awareness through the distribution of brochures and a weekly spot on the Marshall Islands Journal.

There are still some barriers in place, but significant progress has been made since the adoption of the National Energy Policy and a positive evolution is predicted for the countries energy situation in the future. Also check out the newspage of REEEP’s South East Asian Secretariat for more articles on the Encyclopedia of Energy!

leaves.gif“All we have and are today as a people, we have received as a sacred heritage which we pledge ourselves to safeguard and maintain, valuing nothing more dearly than our rightful home on the islands within the traditional boundaries of this archipelago.”- RMI Constitution and guideline to RMI Climate Change Roadmap 2010.

Some interesting little facts here I find, and I will soon introduce the next Pacific Island State here for you.

Source: Marshall Islands Article for Encyclopedia of Energy 2012, written by Daphné Barbotte.

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