By Maxine Lunn and Marina Kelly
On the heels of the first-ever U.S.-Pacific Island Country Summit in Washington, a three-person delegation from the Bureau of Energy Resources (ENR), led by Deputy Assistant Secretary Laura Lochman, visited Fiji, Oct. 3-6. The ENR visit reinforced the Department of State’s support for the Pacific region’s ongoing transition to clean energy. Embassy Suva and ENR hosted a Clean Energy Workshop and a Women in Energy Conference in collaboration with international development organization Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). More than 50 energy professionals attended, representing 13 of the 22 Pacific Island countries and territories.
Lochman announced the official launch of the Women in Energy Strategy that the Department is piloting with the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs and was developed in partnership with the Office of Global Women’s Issues and the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. The strategy engages local energy officials, utilities, private companies, and educational and research bodies to commit to institutional changes, policies, and practices that will increase women’s access to energy sector opportunities. Consulate General Ho Chi Minh City, Embassy Bangkok, and Embassy Kuala Lumpur also recently held inaugural Women in Energy events. Eventually, ENR plans to roll out the initiative globally.
Lochman also joined SPC Deputy Director General Dr. Paula Vivili and Tuvalu High Commissioner Dr. Eselealofa Apinelu in signing a $100,000 grant from the Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. The grant will fund 20 domestic biogas systems in Funafuti, Tuvalu, to help transition households to a more sustainable energy source while reducing environmental pollution.
Other events included a Rocky Mountain Institute training session on applying for international climate funding; a presentation on U.S. International Development Finance Corporation investment requirements; and the election of a Regional Steering Committee of Pacific Island energy leaders who will spearhead implementation of SPC’s Pacific Energy and Gender Network Strategic Action Plan.
ENR’s visit and related events advanced the Declaration on U.S.-Pacific Partnership. The bureau will continue to work with Embassy Suva and local partners to support the Pacific Islands’ clean energy transition, women’s inclusion, and climate resilience goals.
Marina Kelly is an energy officer and Maxine Lunn is a public diplomacy officer at the Bureau of Energy Resources.