Welcome to Solomon Islands
Hon. Manasseh Damukana Sogavare
Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands
Human activities over the years have resulted in environmental degradation, pollution, soil erosion, depletion and near extinction of certain species of flora and fauna. These are being compounded by natural phenomena like El Nino; La Nina; climate change including global warming and sea level rise – posing serious threats to the lives of not only Commonwealth citizens, but the rest of our planet’s citizens.
Among the most vulnerable, are the small islands developing states, including our own country, Solomon Islands. Sea level rise is no longer a potential threat but a real one. Some of our island communities in the Pacific are already experiencing the effects of sea level rise.
My Government wish to acknowledge the various steps and strategies that the Commonwealth with other sister organisations like the United Nations, have taken or recommended to address these threats. My Government’s creation of a separate Ministry – The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Meteorology, is in recognition of the urgency to address these environmental threats. In addition, the CNURA Government is fully cognizant of the need to integrate appropriate strategies into our national development plans to ensure our programmes and projects are not only environmentally friendly, but also improve the quality of life of our people.
The Solomon Islands Government is committed to working closely with other Commonwealth countries to fight climate change and collectively implement the ‘Lake Victoria Commonwealth Climate Change Action Plan,’ which Commonwealth Heads of Governments adopted at their meeting last year in Kampala, Uganda.
We also reaffirm our support for the 1989 Langkawi Declaration on Environment – a declaration which marks the first time Commonwealth Heads of Governments defined their environmental concerns and acknowledges the “serious deterioration in the environment and the threat this poses to the well being of present and future generations.” Members of the Commonwealth must take a united stand to implement the various strategies based on this Declaration, as well as, other strategies adopted by the Commonwealth Environment Ministers.
Climate Change, undoubtedly, is the major challenge facing the Commonwealth, and the world for that matter in the 21st century. It is a global challenge that calls for a global response.
I also on this occasion, acknowledge the continuing relevance of the Commonwealth in its efforts to foster international peace and security; democracy; liberty of the individual; equal rights for all; eradication of poverty, ignorance, and diseases; and its opposition to all forms of racial discrimination. The government espouses or subscribes to these very democratic principles and values.
Furthermore, I wish to express the gratitude and appreciation of the Government and people of Solomon Islands to the Commonwealth Secretariat for its continuing contribution and support to our country’s peace and development endeavours. Solomon Islands is honoured to host the regional headquarters of the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP). My Government will do its best to support the work of the CYP and fulfil our host country obligations. The onus is also on us to fully utilize the services that CYP can offer, especially in addressing the problems facing our youth.
I wish to assure the Secretary General, Mr. Kamlesh Sharma, of Solomon Islands continuing support and cooperation. We are confident that the sustainable development and environmental challenges facing small island developing states of the Commonwealth will continue to be at the forefront of the Secretariat’s work programme.
The above is an extract from a statement provided for the Commonwealth of Nations website by former Prime Minister, Honourable Dr. Derek Sikua on the Occasion of Commonwealth Day on 10 March 2008, CYP, Honiara.