BY EDDIE OSIFELO
UNITED Kingdom shares close connection with the Pacific despite the vast geographical location.
Acting British High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Nicola Noble stated this during the King George Sixth Platinum Jubilee (70 years) Anniversary on Sunday.
The theme of the celebration was “celebrating 70 years of leadership and scholarship excellence since 1952”.
Noble said the UK and the Pacific sit on opposite sides of the globe – we are quite literally oceans apart.
“At first glance, you would expect those oceans, the geographical distance, the differences in size and economy, to result in narrower relationships.
“But in fact, the opposite is the case. While the distance is great, the connections are close. We have more in common than that which sets us apart,” she said.
“We are all island nations with long seafaring traditions.
“We have strong historical connections.
“We are nations built on the shared values of democracy, the rule of law, human rights and good governance. We are members of the Commonwealth.
“And we all share a commitment to finding global solutions to global problems. To working with and through the Rules-Based International Order.
“And to working together to address the existential threat that is climate change, and to protect and preserve our oceans,” she added.
Noble said following COP26 the UK committed to several large programmes on Climate Change and the Blue Economy where the Pacific can directly benefit from UK Aid, including: £40m for Small Island Developing States Capacity and Resilience; £274m for Climate Action for Resilient Asia; £500m Blue Planet Fund; £36m Sustainable Blue Economies fund, and £250m Forest Governance Markets and Climate Programme.
She said the UK has also committed £15m to the Pacific through its Conflict, Stability and Security fund to support Pacific Island Countries to address the sources of instability, transnational threats and to promote peace and security.
However, Noble said “we are living in interesting times”.
She said the tectonic plates of geopolitics are shifting under our feet – here in the Pacific as indeed they are elsewhere.
“There is a growing consensus – though not yet universal – of the existential challenge of climate change, and the pollution of our seas.
“But we are in the foothills of efforts to tackle those challenges. Economic, climate and political resilience are more important than ever – and nowhere more than in the Small Island Developing States of the Pacific.
“That is why the UK continues to strengthen our partnerships and engagement in the region. Combining our power, influence and expertise, we will work in partnership with our Pacific friends on the basis of our shared values, as we all seek to protect and preserve this beautiful world that we live in,” she said.
Governor General Sir David Vunagi and Minister of Education and Human Resources, Lanelle Tanangada were among guests that attended the celebration.