Environment Observatories – The Reality of Climate Change in Solomons

Fanalei Island - Climate Change
Fanalei Island – Climate Change

Two years into her post as ACoM’s Environment Observatories’ Project Officer, Freda Fataka, writes about the reality of climate change in Solomons, and offers some strategies to help.

Changes in climate are a phenomenon that naturally occurs in the environment. Currently however, human-made climate change, caused by greenhouse gas emissions and land use changes, is unprecedented on the Earth and needs to be considered as a global issue, bringing great concern for all the nations of the world. Climate change creates enormous stress for our Mother Earth.

Coastal communities in Solomon Islands have been identified to be at the forefront of the impacts of climate change and associated to sea level rise. Some of these impacts are already visible and threaten community livelihoods. Low-lying islands and coastal communities in the country have been devastated by the rising sea levels. This overwhelming issue has adversely affecting food and water security, housing and other aspects of life.

The submerging of the artificial island of Walande is an example of how coastal communities in Solomon Islands are affected today and will be in the future. Due to rising water levels, local food gardens and housing have been devastated and the community had to relocate to a larger island.

In the future, many more coastal communities will face challenges of sea level rise, coastal flooding, and extreme events in different locations and regions in the country. Climate change is also causing risks to natural ecosystems, such as loss of coral reefs, associated with loss of biodiversity and adverse impacts on coastal and marine fisheries.

Those living inland will also experience direct and indirect impacts of climate related issues, in which weather extremes will result in severe river floods and landslides, as well as droughts. These impacts are devastating as they destroy people’s homes, endanger their food and water security, and ultimately force them to migrate and relocate.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) predicts that the impacts of climate change will undermine decades of development gains and will severely increase the risk of poverty in the country today and the future.

Climate change is on the rise. Its impacts are devastating and its challenges remain unsolved to date. Therefore, what must be done is to find sustainable solutions for adaptation, reduce emissions and act responsibly to ensure future wellbeing of the Earth and its people.

It is important that Solomon Islanders understand climate change and its anticipated impacts, the changes, challenges and individual situations that the communities are currently facing, so that something drastic can be done to improve people’s wellbeing.

And we wish for our neighbours in other countries in this globalised world to help us in this endeavour.

Application Strategies

Anticipated impacts of climate change are something that we cannot control, but we can develop solutions to cope with it.

Below I would like to propose strategies to undertake in communities in Solomon Islands to increase climate resilience and local empowerment.

  • Developing a guide containing effective advice for adaptation; this guide would focus on sustainable development at the provincial and community level. This approach aims to promote an action plan to adapt to the impacts of climate change and its related issues, to recognize the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of the future generation.
  • Creating an awareness teaching and training programme; provide awareness teaching and training mechanisms and/or training of trainers and/or advocacy in communities to actively involve local people in decision making and activities in the communities to influence community individuals, schools and institutions to understand environmental changes and associated concerns that community are currently facing, so that appropriate decisions can be made for future planning, intervention and implementation in the community.
  • Taking action to adapt to climate change; when it comes to tackling climate change, we need to prevent the impacts caused by climate change in different locations and regions across the country through reducing vulnerability to climate change and its related issues. This involves conducting climate change vulnerability assessments in the vulnerable communities, to provide holistic and realistic information for appropriate and effective analysis with reference to the environmental changes in that given location. For example, planning of relocation if it is applicable.
Freda Fataka
Freda Fataka

Please pray for Freda and her work, and for communities across Melanesia facing climate change. If you would like to also make a donation to this work, please contact the charity. MMUK sends £1,000 per year as a contribution towards Freda’s salary. To set up a Environment Observatory project at a village which is threatened by climate change, costs £250.

O God of land, sea and sky hear the cry of your people,
for homes and livelihoods destroyed by rising seas and warming earth; caused by ignorance, apathy and selfish greed.

We pray for the work of Freda Fataka and the Environment Observatories.

Inspire all people of goodwill to work for change of hearts and minds,
so that loving respect and valuing all creation may increase awareness of the wonderful gift of the world and its life.

We pray that you will enable us to overcome all that destroys and pollutes and build a world where all life is sacred, and the earth enriched for all its inhabitants and those yet to be born.

In the name of the one who promised life in all its fullness
through sacrificial love, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen