Secretary-General Remarks to the Press Stakeout with Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands
Honiara, Solomon Islands, 4 September 2011It is a great honour and pleasure for me to visit this beautiful country of Solomon Islands.
Distinguished members of the media, Halo oloketa! [“Hello.”]
The challenges that you have addressed and are going to face are challenges for the world.
I have very good discussions with Prime Minister Danny Philip yesterday and today and with Cabinet Ministers.
I am very pleased to see for myself the impact of climate change and how vulnerable these island countries are to the impact of climate change.
No one here can doubt that climate change is a security issue.
On the frontlines of conflict, there are surging waves of fighters. Here, there are surging waves of the ocean. These ocean waves can be more dangerous than an army. They can wipe out whole islands.
The ocean is already destroying crops in low lying atolls like Ontong Java. That puts food security at risk. Poor food security means weak social stability.
Multiple tsunamis are pounding the islands and the economy. The United Nations and the Solomon Islands Government worked together to address these emergencies. We rebuilt schools. And we added disaster risk education for the students.
But to really reduce the risks, we need international action.
This morning I had a very good meeting with the Ambassadors and High Commissioners of donor countries, and they assured me that they would continue to provide such generous contributions to the social-economic development of this country. But at the same time I would expect that all this assistance should be used with a sense of accountability and transparency.
This is my message in every country I visit and to every leader I meet. The planet cannot wait for a new, greener future. We need governments to work for change. We need communities and we need individuals in working together in addressing these issues.
The world leaders will gather together next year in Rio de Janeiro to discuss about the future of this international community and the health of our Planet Earth. This Rio+20 summit meeting in Rio de Janeiro on sustainable development will be one of the most important meetings of the international community. I hope that Prime Minister Philip will lead his delegation and raise your concerns to the international community, so that your challenges and concerns will be reflected by the international community. I hope that all people of the Solomon Islands will raise their voice and be heard in Rio de Janeiro.
That will be the first major meeting since 1992 when there was the first Earth Summit meeting to act on climate change, forests and indigenous peoples. We are seeing the results here.
The Solomon Islands was the first Pacific country to benefit from the Adaptation Fund for Climate Change. And the Solomon Islands has secured more than five and a half million dollars in funding from the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation - what is known as REDD - in Developing Countries.
There is great potential for advancing the “blue economy” here through fisheries and sea-bed mining. The Solomon Islands can benefit from the Exclusive Economic Zones established by the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas.
The United Nations is also helping with the reconciliation process.
This country has such a rich cultural history. With over a thousand islands and scores of different languages, you can show true unity in diversity.
Formal reconciliation is critical. But I am also impressed by the individuals, families and communities who work to bridge their differences. Their person-to-person dialogues are helping to solidify peace.
To have lasting stability, we need to protect human rights and uphold the law.
In that regard we also need to enhance the status of women. I have discussed this matter very seriously how Solomon Islands and the members of the PIF (Pacific Island Forum) will promote gender empowerment. And it is also important to stop violence against women. I have established my campaign. I have launched my campaign Unite to Fight Violence Against Women. And this is a very important priority of the United Nations at this time. I hope the Prime Minister and the Government of Solomon Islands will lead by example.
That way, the Solomon Islands can live up to its nickname, “The Happy Isles.”
I know this is a small island developing State. But when I look at how vast this country is ? and how strong your human resources are ? and how enormous your potential is ? I don''t think small. You can change your status from this Least Developed Country [to] Leading Development Champion. This is another kind of LDC – Leading Development Champion from Least Developed Country. I see a large ocean developing nation. I see great opportunities. And I see tremendous progress ahead. And I see huge hope for the future. I sincerely hope that our partnership between Solomon Islands and the United Nations will be as deep as the Pacific Ocean.
Tanggio tumas. [“Thank you very much.”]