Energy Programme

Energy enables social and economic development from basic needs to advanced industrial activity. Energy comes in different forms but for most people the most common form they know is electricity, which has traditionally been sourced from fossil fuels. With the advent of climate change, accelerated by the burning of fossil fuels, nations are now setting targets for renewable and sustainable energy.

In the push for renewable energy it is important to keep in mind that energy supply systems both depend on and influence natural ecosystems. Ecosystems, such as waterways and forests, are critical for the provisioning of renewable energy services such as water flows for hydro-electricity and biomass for bioenergy. With the high cost of petroleum products in the Pacific Islands there is now a growing demand for renewable and sustainable energy. The growing need for energy production, whether renewable or non-renewable, also generates significant impacts on biodiversity. For example, the Monasavu Hydro-electricity dam in Viti Levu, Fiji inundates an area of around 7 squared km. According to figures released by the Fiji Electricty Authority the dam increased the mean flow of the Wailoa River (water discharged from the power station) from a natural flow of 14.8 cubic metre per second to an estimated 24.1 cubic metre per second.

IUCN’s response to the global energy challenge

IUCN looks for energy solutions through a sustainability lens that works equally well for social equity, food, health, water, and nature. This is reflected in the IUCN Programme 2013-2016 which is driven by the assessment that: ‘global production and consumption patterns are destroying our life support system – nature – at persistent and dangerously high rates. And people, communities, governments and private actors are under-utilizing the potential power of nature and the solutions it can provide to global challenges in fields such as climate change, food security, social and economic development. IUCN terms these nature-based solutions and there is no doubt that sustainable energy solutions will contribute to IUCN’s goals in reaching sustainability for all.

You can learn more about IUCN's work on energy in the Pacific here.