PRIME Minister Rick Houenipwela has welcomed Japan’s initiative for connectivity through quality infrastructure in the Pacific region.
Speaking during the PALM 8 Leaders’ Summit on Saturday, Prime Minister Houenipwela said connectivity in infrastructure is vital for the country.
However, the Prime Minister has highlighted that climate change challenges remains an existential threat to the Pacific Islands and Solomon Islands, and it is already negatively impacting the region.
He said extreme weather events are reversing our development efforts, undermining food production, and taking away lives.
“We have lost 6 atoll islands due to climate change and sea level rise,” he said.
He also conveyed that the increasing ambition of the Paris Agreement to put us on a path of well below 1.5 degree Celsius is pivotal to our survival.
Prime Minister Houenipwela also emphasised the need for global partnership in support of the Green Climate Fund and Global Environment Facility in line with globally agreed targets, and subsequent streaming of access to these funding mechanisms.
“Thank you, Japan for support towards the Green Fund. Solomon Islands is already benefiting from the fund in the development of the Tina Hydro project, a cross cutting project that addresses mitigation of emissions from diesel generators while providing more efficient and affordable energy to our capital city, Honiara,” he said.
On the economic dimension of sustainable development, the Prime Minister informed PALM 8 Summit that Solomon Islands will look to proactively increase its economic potential in the tourism sector.
“Our partnership with Japan on this will be a feature. Our Ministry of Culture and Tourism in partnership with the Honorary Consul of Solomon Islands in Japan opened the Solomon Islands Tourism Office – Japan (SITO-J). Through the Solomon Islands Tourism Office – Japan and SIG will look to strategically create the awareness of Solomon Islands to the trade and consumer markets in Japan,” he said.
He also informed that Solomon Islands will be joining other small islands in the Pacific, including Samoa and Vanuatu in graduating from the least developed country status having met the criteria for graduation set by the UNGA.
As such, Prime Minister Houenipwela acknowledged Japan’s continued support to countries in the Pacific that have recently graduated or are about to graduate.
“We have to ensure that our countries don’t slide back to least developed country status,” he said.
Meanwhile, on the cultural dimension of sustainable development, the Prime Minister said Solomon Islands and other PIF members are looking to strengthen the very basis of their own sustainable development by seriously taking into account their specific and unique cultural dimensions.
These cultural dimensions will include the consideration of policies, formulation of plans and the implementation of sustainable development programs.
“One in which sustainable development has a working rationale in which it stipulates that the interdependence of economic, intellectual, political, environmental and cultural dimensions must be considered together in the making of policies and plans for the future of Solomon Islands and its people,” he said.