The European Union (EU) announced on Tuesday it will strengthen cooperation with the Pacific island countries in supporting renewable energy and fighting climate change in the area.
According to an EU press release, the European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs will visit New Zealand from April 23 to April 27.
Piebalgs' visit will focus above all on renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, several of them co-financed by New Zealand and the EU in Samoa, Tuvalu, Kiribati (including Christmas Island) and the Cook Islands.
Piebalgs will also travel to Papua New Guinea from April 28 to April 30 to discuss development challenges with members of the government and will launch two projects worth almost 60 million euro (about 82.2 million U.S. dollars).
"The Pacific islands are victims of the adverse effects of climate change where rising sea levels have an impact upon every aspect of citizens' lives and hamper economic development," said the EU press release. "The difficulties they face are exacerbated by extremely high fossil fuel costs due to their isolated location and by the lack of access to electricity in outer islands."
"Energy is crucial for education and healthcare, for growth, tourism and even for the supply of water. In short, renewable energy is a country's main route towards growth and development," said Piebalgs ahead of his trip. Endi