Solomon Islands, like other Pacific Island countries, is bearing the brunt of climate change, which has been accelerated by the exploitation of natural resources. With support from USAID, NDI launched a 10-month program to help young activists develop the skills to advocate on behalf of their communities and the environment in Solomon Islands. This program draws on findings from a national public opinion research conducted by NDI in 2021, which shows that Solomon Islanders are increasingly concerned about the governance of natural resources management and the environment, and calls on citizens to proactively demand for more political integrity and sound decision making.
The program aims to create and support a network of young advocates who will strengthen independent monitoring of public policy implementation in the mining, logging and the environment protection sectors; build skills and evidence-based advocacy plans that respond to community interests; and prioritize the safe inclusion of all community groups. Through this program, NDI will leverage youth's sense of agency in affecting change in the economic sectors most vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. The program will also elevate participants’ interests in the policy-making process. It will help them develop strong working relationships with government officials, local organizations and traditional leaders in order to foster a more transparent, effective and inclusive government that improves the well-being of citizens in Solomon Islands.
“Growing up in a community where we rely on logging for money is a major issue for us. Almost everyone in my village depends on logging, without knowing that they are destroying the environment and its natural resources. As a result of destroying the forest, huge areas are being exposed to weathering which results in soil erosion which is being washed into the ocean killing the corals, the breeding home for fish which will result in fish migration or they will die affecting us which we depend on the sea for survival. As an environmentalist, I wish to achieve and learn great things from this program. I wish to work closely with communities so that I learn what actually they are facing due to the environmental issues and how well they are able to manage their natural resources. Once I complete the program, I want to use the learned skills and knowledge to help educate my people on the importance of the environment and its natural resources and ways to help protect them.”—Zitinah Milcy Rotu, the Isabel Province, community activist
“The United States is proud to support these youth climate advocates to improve their skills and strengthen their advocacy against climate change and the exploitation of natural resources,” said Russell Comeau, Director of the U.S. Embassy Office in Solomon Islands. “Young people will bear the brunt of our decisions now in the future. So it’s only right that they are a central force in our climate action today.”
Through a competitive process, 25 emerging youth leaders from Guadalcanal, Honiara, Isabel, Malaita, Temotu and the Western Province have been selected to attend a two-phased program, which includes a three-month in-depth course on Inclusive Monitoring and Advocacy for Transparency and Accountability. Following the course, the activists will have the opportunity to develop and lead their own initiatives to conduct process monitoring and advocacy to promote better governance of the environmental sector.
For more information about this program, or NDI’s work in the Pacific Islands, please contact Ancuta Hansen at [email protected].
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.