Monday, 9 July 2007 8:41 AM

We Face an Uncertain Future, says Dr. Brown

Speaking to the Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Queensland last month, Father Dr. Terry Brown stated that Solomon Islands face an uncertain future.

Dr Brown stated that the "biggest challenge" facing the country is the prevention of ethnic violence. The risk of clashes between immigrant Malaitans and residents of Guadalcanal are great and criminal activity by gangs is on the rise.

Dr Brown said churches and a small but growing civil society can help the country to grow into a stable self-sufficient democracy, but first it had to overcome a number of formidable obstacles.

Dr Brown stated that there are huge risks to the overall economy since the rate of logging is unsustainable. The vulnerability of the Solomon Islands economy is therefore very high, says Dr Brown. Dr Brown said "environmental destruction of the Solomons is going ahead at full pace, especially in the logging and fishing sectors."

Dr Brown said the government seldom collects fees or issues permits for the work and the operations are shrouded in mystery and it is not clear that the Ministry of Natural Resources even knows what is happening.

He said similarly, exploitation of the ocean continues with poaching and over-fishing across the island chain having depleted fishing stocks.

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