Since the beginning of May, 20 young civic leaders throughout Solomon Islands have been responding to key environmental issues in their local communities through projects that assess legislation, public policy, and local practices in sectors related to climate change and natural resource management. From November 2021 to February 2022, these activists, representing nearly every province in Solomon Islands, developed the skills to advocate on behalf of their communities and the environment through a rigorous training course on political process monitoring and advocacy strategies led by NDI.
Upon successful completion of the course, NDI selected alumni to design their own initiatives to monitor policy implementation and raise awareness in their local communities for issues related to natural resource management and environmental protection. Working individually or in teams, the activists, known as “youth advocates for integrity,” are reviewing official documents and consulting with experts and affected individuals to better understand community issues such as improper sanitation, the consequences of logging, and the overharvesting of marine resources.
This is the story of the youth advocates who have answered the urgent question posed by climate change—who will fight for communities at risk in Solomon Islands? With their dedication to addressing the issues most impacting their homes, in addition to their newly acquired skills related to coalition-building, advocacy, and awareness raising, the youth advocates are already bringing change to where it matters most.
Here are their stories so far.
“The first phase of the project was successfully done. Looking at the feedback given by the village elders and leaders, they were very enthusiastic and looking forward to the project that will be conducted in the next four months. They also gave comments and recommendations that this project will be the first one being conducted in the villages and they're looking forward to the project.” – participant from Western Province, monitoring community sanitation to support understanding and advocacy of improved sanitation.
“This project has really helped me to look at the bigger picture. Reading from the internet makes me grateful that most of us Solomon Islanders still have easier access to water, than some places in the world. Water accessibility and availability is all connected with the other natural resources we have. When you destroy one natural resource, it affects all the other resources we have. So it is important to look after each and every natural resource we have.” – participant from Malaita Province, monitoring water accessibility and holding community consultations to ensure safe and clean water is available to all.
“So far, for me the project runs smoothly and I am glad to be part of the project that is going to impact the community. It is a first of its kind, so it teaches me a lot of interesting things in waste management and waste pollution. The community is also glad to be part of it and willing to participate and share their views on waste management and the waste management issue.” – participant from Honiara, monitoring waste pollution and engaging local communities to advocate for proper waste management.
These youth advocates will continue their community-based initiatives over the next several months, using their project findings and recommendations to further advocate for ethical natural resource and environmental governance.
NDI's engagement in the Pacific Islands is implemented in part with support from the United States Agency for International Development.
NDI is a non-profit, non-partisan, non-governmental organization that works in partnership around the world to strengthen and safeguard democratic institutions, processes, norms and values to secure a better quality of life for all. NDI envisions a world where democracy and freedom prevail, with dignity for all.