H.E. Mr. Derrick Sikua, Prime Minister
26 September 2008
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DERRICK SIKUA, Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, said that his delegation deeply regretted that the recently discussed programme of action on the food crisis had not been matched with required resources. Countries would, therefore, have to look at their own resources for solutions. To that end, his Government was encouraging consumption of locally produced food and community-based rice programmes. It also hoped to further strengthen its relations with rice-growing countries, and was looking to both the North and South for energy solutions.
In that connection, he thanked China, Turkey, Italy and Austria, among others, for coming forward with community-based renewable energy programmes. Such cooperation translated into action the Solomon Islands’ policy of bringing affordable electricity to 80 per cent of its rural population. The country was exploring bulk purchasing arrangements with Venezuela, which, he hoped, would provide Solomon Islands -- which spent a third of its national budget on fuel -- with some breathing room.
The magnitude of the problem of climate change had outgrown the existing capacity of the United Nations, which was “heavy on providing technical support and analytical data [but] less so on the ground activities”, he said. Regional and subregional organizations were going in the same direction, leaving countries to fend for themselves. He hoped the small island developing States unit within the United Nations would be strengthened to effectively coordinate the needs of those countries.
As sea levels rose, his country had already begun to experience migration of indigenous populations from low-lying islands. That placed much stress on the land tenure systems, causing frictions between ethnic groups. The issue of climate change for his country was about preserving its forests, reforestation and providing people with environmentally friendly opportunities. Among other things, Solomon Islands was embarking on a programme of scaling down logging, its major export income earner. He hoped that, over time, agriculture, tourism and fisheries would fill in the forestry vacuum within the country’s economy.
Regarding vulnerability to natural disasters, he expressed hope that a more committed outcome would emerge from the Bali Action Plan. He also noted with concern, the proliferation of climate change financial mechanisms outside the multilateral process. That would once again disadvantage the most vulnerable countries, including small island developing States and least developed countries. Dealing with climate change, for those countries, required new and additional resources. Accessibility to the Adaptation Fund, mitigation and technology transfer were all at the heart of the solutions to climate change challenges.
On the Millennium Development Goals, he said that, as a small island with least developed country status, much of his country’s achievements rested on partnership with all stakeholders at all levels. That, unfortunately, had overstretched and crowded the national policy space in strengthening and maintaining good relations with all donors. Meanwhile, the Government welcomed new approaches by non-traditional donors, or providing direct assistance through existing national institutional frameworks. That strengthened governance and democracy, as provided for under the Paris declaration, allowing the State to increase its legitimacy to reach out to its population more meaningfully.
With only eight months left to register the country’s continental shelf, as required by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, he said Solomon Islands was working diligently on the matter and welcomed a recent decision by the Conference of State Parties in recognizing the constraints faced by many developing countries in meeting the time frame of May 2009. On sustainable development issues, he added that certain countries of the Pacific, including his own, had initiated sustainable management arrangements to protect their juvenile tuna stocks by closing pockets of high seas adjacent to their respective exclusive economic zones.