HONIARA, Solomon Islands
Life is difficult enough for communities on the remote southern Weather Coast of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. Sustaining a livelihood from the land is a daily struggle on the steep coastal mountain slopes that plunge to the sea, made worse by the absence of adequate roads, transport and government services. And now, climate change is taking its toll on the already precarious food situation here.
The deceptively calm waters of Langa Langa Lagoon on the west coast of Malaita Island in the Solomon Islands is home to thousands of people who have lived on artificial islands for centuries. For generations the islanders in this south-west Pacific nation have employed tenacity and ingenuity to maintain their existence on these tiny low-lying man-made atolls, devoid of freshwater and arable land. But climate change is now the greatest threat to their survival.
Down the main road in Munda, a coastal town on the North Georgia Island of the Solomon Islands, past the wharf, the market and a small collection of shops, Patrick Arathe’s farm is reached by walking first across the runway of the local airport and finally along a dirt track that winds between residential buildings until it opens into a large clearing.
The Solomon Islands, a developing island nation in the south-west Pacific Islands, has one of the highest urbanisation rates in the region, and the basic service infrastructure is struggling to cater for the influx of people from the provinces to the capital, Honiara. Thirty-five percent of the city’s population, who live in informal settlements, are facing the health consequences of a dire shortage of clean water and sanitation.
The Pacific Islands have some of the lowest rates of Internet penetration in the world, yet tech-savvy urbanites are behind the emergence of a number of social media sites dedicated to generating public debate and demanding government accountability. However, without real action, online forums speaking truth to power are constrained in impacting political and social reforms in the region.
The world’s first deep sea mineral (DSM) mining venture in the Bismarck Sea off the northern coast of Papua New Guinea in the southwest Pacific has come to a halt after two years of development.
With youth populations growing faster than jobs in the Pacific Islands, young women, who are also confronting social pressures to conform to traditional gender roles, account for the highest rates of unemployment in most countries.
Climate activist Wanita Limpus, from the low-lying island nation of Kiribati in the Central Pacific Ocean, says the outcome of the Rio+20 Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in June was a serious letdown for small, developing island states.
The world's smallest island nations wield more power than their sizes would suggest, with millions of square kilometres in their domains, said leaders of Pacific Island nations gathered at a special forum here in the Cook Islands.