THE United Nations Ocean Conference, co-hosted by the Governments of Kenya and Portugal, comes at a critical time as the world strengthens its effort to mobilize, create and drive solutions to realize the Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14): Life below Water. It will also provide all partners and states the opportunity to update their progress on their achievements in SDG 14.
The Solomon Islands Government is represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs & External Trade, Hon. Jeremiah Manele (MP) and senior Government officials from the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management & Meteorology, Ministry of Fisheries & Marine Resources, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs & External Trade.
‘We are a nation of islands. The ocean defines who we are as people and nation’ the Hon. Minister stated in his opening statement. Reminding the global community that the ocean is integral to the Solomon Islands’ ancestral heritage, culture, economy, and way of life. Therefore, the health of the ocean is crucial to the well-being of our people.
During the 1st UN Ocean Conference held in New York in 2017, the Solomon Islands made five voluntary commitments in the areas of policies, fisheries, pollution, and maritime boundary. The Minister highlighted the progress made to date;
The Solomon Islands developed its Integrated National Ocean Policy in 2019. One of the key aspects of the policy was to develop a Marine Spatial Plan (MSP). Significant work informed by scientific information and stakeholders’ inputs obtained through country-wide consultations has been completed, and the MSP is currently being finalized.
Solomon Islands launched its 10-year National Fisheries Policy in 2019 providing the basis for a Solomon Islands Community Based Resource Management (CBRM) strategy. A CBRM policy is integral to the lives of ordinary Solomon Islanders as it recognized local communities as front-liners in ocean governance.
In regards to tuna, the Solomon Islands has improved its management of the Tuna fisheries by applying the Vessel Day Scheme within all its waters. The Solomon Islands also supports the Tuna Traceability Declaration by World Economic Forum and has started tuna traceability measures in one of our fishing ports.
In terms of Pollution, the Solomon Islands has in place a National Waste Management and Pollution Control Strategy and is amending the Environment Act to enable the application of pollution control measures such as the banning of materials that lack in-country management measures.
In regards to Maritime Boundaries, the Solomon Islands has completed four of its overlapping boundaries and will conclude the last remaining maritime boundary with Fiji next month.
Hon. Minister Manele highlighted that even with challenges in terms of capacity, financial resources, and competing priorities, the Solomon Islands is doing what it can to address its ocean management issues. In addition, Hon. Manele announced the following new voluntary commitments:
Establish a legal framework for Ocean Legislation and Commissioner by 2025
Contribute to the global 30 x 30 oceans target of the Biodiversity Framework by further strengthening indigenous guardianship and our national network of locally managed and protected areas.
Reduce Greenhouse gas emissions from international and domestic ships and ports.
Support the finalization, adoption, and entry into force of the international, legally binding instrument such as BBNJ.
Commits to support the finalization and adoption of a legally binding instrument on marine plastic pollution.
Hon. Minister stated that to protect our precious ocean, we must put island people back into the center of everything we do, physically, institutionally, and economically.
He concluded with the call that the implementation of 2030 Agenda SDG14 requires and needs meaningful collaboration, and the global community needs to take urgent and firm actions, including availing of dedicated financial resources and technologies to island countries to sustainably conserve, use and protect ocean resources.
SOURCE: Joint Media Release from MFAET & MECDM