Puna was asked by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to take part in a high-level panel event in Abu Dhabi this week.
He will be a panellist on the Financial Times-IRENA Question time, during the organisation’s annual assembly at its headquarters on Sunday (CI time).
The director general of IRENA Adnan Z Amin sought Puna’s inclusion on the panel because of the Cook Islands’ leadership in renewable energy and the prime minister’s perspectives on how the country is pursuing full conversion to solar power by 2020.
The IRENA Assembly is focusing on what steps governments around the world are taking to advance renewable energy in the context of climate change.
The Prime Minister is also engaging in pre-panel talks, including serving as the session chairman of a Pre-Assembly Islands event, on January 15.
In a media release the Office of the Prime Minister said Puna had worked solidly to build strong relations with IRENA although the Cook Islands did not qualify to be a full member.
Despite this limitation, the Prime Minister had developed high level ties, which have eventuated in valuable technical assistance, the release said.
As an example, the organisation was willing to help the Cook Islands particularly with technical issues related to grid stability and tariff management – a common concern among state power providers in converting to solar energy.
Travel costs are being provided by IRENA, and the Prime Minister will return mid-next week. News of the trip spread quickly, with several people contacting CI News to complain about Puna leaving the country so soon in the New Year.