24 May 2019
Solomon Islands: Climate change adaptation planning and implementation in 2019
The Solomon Islands Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Meteorology published its National Adaption Programme of Action (NAPA ) official policy document in November 2008 which stated (quote)
“As a Least Developed Country (LDC) and Small Island Developing State (SIDS), climate change is the most important environmental and developmental issue for Solomon Islands. Solomon Islands is a low-lying coastal country that shares similar sustainable development challenges, including small population, remoteness, susceptibility to natural disasters, vulnerability to external shocks, and excessive dependence on international trade and foreign aid. Its growth and development is often further stymied by high transportation and communication costs, disproportionately expensive public administration and infrastructure due to its small size, and little to no opportunity to create economies of scale.
“Climate change will be a major impediment to the achievement of sustainable development in Solomon Islands, as all economic and social sectors are likely to be adversely affected, and the cost of adaptation will be disproportionately high, relative to gross domestic product (GDP). In attempting to integrate adaptation strategies into its sustainable development agenda, Solomon Islands will be confronted by many challenges including insufficient resources, prioritization of adaptation measures and uncertainties over climate change projections and adaptation strategies.
“The need to implement adaptation measures with some urgency has been often reinforced by the adverse impacts already being experienced in the country and highlighted in numerous national and regional workshops, meetings and conferences. It has been suggested that risk-reduction strategies together with other sectoral policy initiatives in areas such as sustainable development planning, disaster prevention and management, integrated coastal zone management and health care planning should be employed. “
Now 11 years since the NAPA initiative was introduced the Solomon Islands has seen several Cyclones bring flooding, damage to homes and food gardens, loss of crops, salt water intrusion, loss of coastal barriers, especially in the outer Reef Islands, the Western Province and in Choiseul, infrastructure damage to bridges, evacuations of communities to higher ground and general disruption to the lives and livelihoods of many in the rural areas of the country.
The impact of climate change on the Solomon Islands continues and adaptation measures are all the more important than they were seen to be in 2008, but does the government have the necessary funds, as well as sufficient resources, to tackle the challenges (and the disaster risks) to ensure the adaption strategies are adequate?
Simply put are the adaption plans at home happening at the scale and speed that is needed to see initiatives ranging from agricultural production to the design and construction of adequate coastal protection to hold back rising seas?
I suspect that due to the huge amount of funds needed to better provide adaption strategies action is falling behind, but must be ramped up to meet the scale of the problems the Solomon Islands is facing.
Here lies yet another challenge for the new DCGA administration.
We should not consider adaptation as defeat but a vital defence.