BY ELLISON VAHI
SOLOMON Islands’ economic base is heavily reliant on and primarily sustained by the exploitation of its natural resources.
Unless this is changed, there will always exist a great potential for its environment to be put under pressure from human activities.
These activities in the country’s forestry, mining, fisheries and agricultural sectors are vital to the country’s economy; without them, Solomon Islands will face economic unproductivity.
However, most of the negative changes to the country’s biodiversity and ecosystem services, state of pollution, as well as land and coastal degradation can be directly linked to these economic activities.
Whilst, Changes caused by these man-made direct and indirect drivers are only further compounded by the country’s rapid population growth, urbanisation and climate change such as sea level rise that poses a serious threats to coastal communities through loss of livelihoods.
Likewise the country’s increasing population creates additional pressures on the environment noticeably through loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Thus, is putting pressure on natural resources and land for food and food production, building materials, and other life support systems, as Land is cleared for timber, forestry, oil palm plantations, farming, urban and rural developments and infrastructure, as well, Marine habitats too are damaged from destructive fishing practices, such as dynamite and poisons, pollution and harvesting of rock and coral.
In relation, now a days, Solomon Islanders are moving to a cash economy for school fees, petrol and kerosene and for processed foods. This results in the loss of traditional methods of natural resource management and use.
In addition, the Compounding impacts of human pressure too have contributed to the threat of climate change and sea level rise.
Unfortunately for Small Islands States like Solomon Islands, the developed countries are the main producers of greenhouse gases and other climate changing factors.
However, the effects will severely impact coastal communities, islands and atolls unless there is a serious attempt at national level mitigation and adaptive measures to ensure Solomon Islands is prepared to deal with the changes and impacts.
In the meantime, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM) is leading the fight in Solomon Islands to protect, restore and enhance the country’s natural environment, helping to direct the country towards a path of sustainable development outcomes that are in line with objectives spelled out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as well through the formulation of policies and enforcement of existing environmental legislation, with an extended role towards disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Additionally, MECDM is the national central point for a number of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) including the Convention for Biological Diversity and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The Ministry is also responsible for implementing environmental initiatives and projects such as the Coral Triangle Initiative and other conservation efforts and regulates processes that have a direct impact on the environment as a means of ensuring sustainable development.
These capacity controls also impact on Solomon Islands’ ability to address national environmental issues as well Building the capacity to meet international commitments of the three Rio Conventions that will have significant collaborations with the capacity needed for national actions to address environmental, economic and social issues facing Solomon Islands.