Environmental Law Association to Support Rural Communities

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SOLOMON Islands Environmental Law Association (SIELA) has been established to help people in rural communities face and fight against issues destroying their environment.

SIELA was established in collaborating with the Environmental Defense Office in Queensland, which is a non-profit, non-government Community Legal Centre to help people understand and access their legal rights to protect the environment in the public interest.

Project Coordinator, Steneth Kaniki said that the project was intended to design a legal toolkit to be sent to the provinces and rolled out to rural people.

Three provinces that the project will work with first after the development of the toolkit are –  Western, Malaita and Makira provinces.

“Basically, the project is designed to give legal information about the environment to rural people back in the communities. What rights they have in facing issues about the environment such as logging and mining activities” said Kaniki.

He said that most people don’t know their rights when it comes to companies destroying their lands and natural resources.

“These intruders keep doing what they want since most rural people are uncertain or have no understanding of their rights about their resources.”

“The aim of this project is to give these people legal information in order to help them have knowledge and understanding about these issues and know how to take legal actions and how to go about them,” Kaniki added.

SIELA is currently working closely with its stakeholders and departments in Honiara to collect legal information and materials that have been developed in the past.

Kaniki said they are doing their best to collect as much information as possible to develop the toolkit.

“Hopefully, the toolkit should be developed by the end of October and we should be able to go out to the provinces to help rural people.

“Some provinces are really at risk nowadays as logging and mining companies have overridden their rights to their natural resources and livelihoods.

“We want to go and share this information with the communities’ so that they can think and do something about these issues to impact their own lives,” Kaniki said.

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Lynda Wate
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