06 April, 2011.
The Pacific Island Kingdom of Tonga now sits alongside countries such as United States, France, Germany and Australia as part of the 21-member Council for the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
The council was elected after two days of deliberations at IRENA's First General Assembly on the 4th and 5th of April in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The landmark summit included more than 800 delegates representing IRENA's 149 member countries.
The Prime Minister of Tonga, Lord Tu'ivakano was the first speaker at the High Level Segment on the first day of sessions, where participants addressed issues such as development and energy access, the role and governance of IRENA, climate change and national experiences.
Lord Tu'ivakano said IRENA must be innovative and take a leading role in a multilateral approach to deal with renewable energy.
He called for the Agency to avoid the example set by some international financial and donor institutions, which often did not have positive impacts on development.
Lord Tu'ivakano led Tonga's delegation, accompanied by Ambassador Designate to UAE, His Royal Highness The Crown Prince, Prince Tupouto'a Lavaka, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mahe'uli'uli Tupouniua and the Prime Minister's Special Advisor, ‘Akau'ola.
According to IRENA's new Director-General, Dr Adnan Amin, the newly-elected council will play a key role in the organisation's decision making, carried out at bi-annual meetings.
Developing nations such as Senegal, Eritrea and Mali are also members of the council, with Tonga as the only Pacific Island council member.
The Government of Tonga acknowledged the support from other Pacific member countries in its bid to join the council.
IRENA was officially established on 26 January 2009 as an inter-governmental organisation to promote the use and adoption of renewable energy sources around the world.
Issued by the: Ministry of Information and Communications., Nuku'alofa, 2011. (Photo courtesy: Prime Minister's Office)