An inception workshop to begin the Global Environment Facility (GEF) 7 Project Initiation Planning Stage was held recently by representatives from the UNDP Solomon Islands, the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management & Meteorology and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livelihood.
The Workshop seeks to develop an action plan for the project, and in doing so safeguard Solomon Islands endemic and global threatened biodiversity and ecosystem services from key threats, particularly invasive alien species and unsustainable land-use practices.
More than 20 representatives from UNDP, partner ministries and civil-society organizations gathered to launch the project development process for the GEF 7 Multifocal Area, which focuses on biodiversity and land degradation thematic areas.
The project’s broader objective is that Solomon Islands indigenous plants, animals, and ecosystems are at a reduced risk from invasive alien species, land degradation and unsustainable resource use with effective government enabling frameworks and capacity, community participation and resilient blue/green livelihoods.
Speaking at the Workshop, Mr Chanel Iroi, Deputy Secretary Technical for MECDM and GEF Operational Focal Point in Solomon Islands, acknowledged the project team and stressed that this workshop initiated a significant process that should be completed by December this year.
According to MECDM, Solomon Islands is an important biodiversity hotspot across the globe and in the Asia-Pacific region. Solomon Islands has rich species biodiversity on both land and waters.
In terms of iconic coastal and marine animals, the country hosts the saltwater crocodile, eight species of whales, nine species of dolphin, dugongs, five species of turtles (Eretmochelys imbricate (CE), Chelonia mydas (EN), Dermochelys coriacea and Lepidochelys olivacea (VU) and Caretta (EN), plus many species of sharks and large pelagic fish.
They highlighted that there remains key threats to this wealth of biodiversity, which includes invasive alien species, habitat destruction and land degradation, overharvesting and exploitation of species, and climate change.
At the meeting, the Ministry of Agriculture Deputy Secretary, Michael Ho’ota, highlighted the impacts to the environment that can be caused by no proper farm management practices, this can result in soil degradation, nutrient leaching and depletion causing low soil fertility, as a result, low crop productivity, contamination of water catchment, deforestation and the introduction of invasive fauna & flora species.
These are threats to the Agriculture sector in Solomon Islands, which hopefully can be addressed by this project. MAL is grateful to be a stakeholder in this important project and looks forward to its successful development and implementation.
The workshop ended with UNDP, MECDM and MAL agreeing on steps forward and a plan to deliver the project document by December 2021. The next steps will also involve visiting the targeted sites and Provinces under the proposed Project.