Honiara – Over 40 representatives from the government, civil society and the private sector gathered virtually on 9 and 10 March 2022 for a two-day national consultation on migration, displacement and planned relocation.
Hosted jointly by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Survey (MLHS), and the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM), the consultation allowed for discussions which enabled key progress to be made in finalizing Planned Relocation Guidelines for Solomon Islands and in shaping the development of a regional framework on climate-related mobility for the Pacific.
As the country with the world’s second-highest climate risk and sixth-highest exposure to natural hazards, Solomon Islands is extremely vulnerable to both slow-onset impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels, and to acute natural hazards, such as earthquakes, cyclones and storm surges. These have significant impacts on the security and rights of Solomon Islanders, who primarily live in low-lying coastal areas.
Being prepared to contend with these realities is of vital importance to the country, particularly to ensure that responses are rights-based and lead to the achievement of durable solutions. This has driven the Government’s efforts to develop Planned Relocation Guidelines with assistance from IOM and financing from the IOM Development Fund.
Permanent Secretary of MLHS, Stanley Waleanisia, underscored this as a key priority for the Government of Solomon Islands, which is providing co-funding in support of the project. Participant inputs on the draft Planned Relocation Guidelines, presented during the consultation, bring them one step closer to being launched this July 2022.
Discussions on day two of the consultation centred on the development of a regional framework to address climate-related mobility, which is being supported under a regional initiative, the Pacific Climate Change Migration and Human Security programme, jointly implemented by IOM and partner agencies.
“Our presence here today signals our commitment to rise up to the challenge and adequately prepare for the future” said Permanent Secretary of MECDM, Dr. Melchior Mataki. “Our choice in decisions about whether to stay or to move, where, when, and how, is an important determinant of our ability to avoid or minimize the worst-case scenario while maximizing best-case scenarios” he continued.
This set the tone for participant discussions, who agreed that early preparation is central to achieving best case outcomes. Legal expert Dr. Joseph Foukona emphasized the need to invest in climate change resilient infrastructure, while Tanya Afu, a youth member of the Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change, underlined the value of collaboration to effective preparation. The importance of regional solidarity was also strongly conveyed, especially towards other low-lying atoll nations in the Pacific.
These inputs will guide the development of the regional framework on climate mobility, which will be drafted in July 2022 and submitted for the consideration of Pacific Island Countries through the inter-governmental Joint-Working Group on Climate Mobility.
The Pacific Climate Change Migration and Human Security programme is led by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) alongside the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD) and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS). The joint agency PCCMHS programme is funded by the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security and the New Zealand Foreign Aid Programme.
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