The Lord Mayor Alfrence Fatai, the Minister of Land, Housing and Survey Andrew Manepora’a, and the Minister of Environment Samuel Manetoali, have formally endorsed the UN-Habitat climate change vulnerability assessment for the City of Honiara.
This report is part of UN-Habitat’s Cities and Climate Change Initiative involving cities throughout the Asia-Pacific region; including the Pacific cities of Port Vila, Port Moresby, Apia and Lami Town.
Honiara’s Vulnerability Assessment was also supported by UNDP, highlighting high level collaboration by both United Nations and Solomon Islands government organisations.
The signing of this important document represents formal recognition of the critical challenges that the city faces as a result of rapid urbanisation and a changing climate.
Professor Darryn McEvoy of RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, acting as scientific advisor to UN-Habitat, said, “this is a valuable resource for not only understanding climate vulnerability now, but also providing the evidence for how risks will change in the future.”
He also highlighted that the vulnerability assessment is just the first step in the process for Honiara which aims to make its communities more resilient.
“The report sets out what the problems are, but we now need to move beyond this to work out what can be done about them, what actions are needed, how can they be implemented, and who should be involved in the implementation,” Professor McEvoy said.
As part of this action-oriented agenda, phase 2 of the UN-Habitat initiative is now underway to develop a climate adaptation plan for the city.
A mix of training and stakeholder workshops, led by RMIT researcher Alexei Trundle, have recently been held with relevant Solomon Islands Government Ministries, Honiara City Council, the Honiara Youth Council, Solomon Water, the Development Services Exchange, and three local communities that were identified as vulnerability hotpots which are Kukum Fishing Village, Ontong Java/Lord Howe Settlement and Matariu-Jericho Settlement in Kola’a ridge.
These interactive meetings were designed to identify some of the key local issues and enable local groups to put forward possible actions that would help to build resilience to climate change.
This information will be used to inform and develop a draft adaptation plan for the city which will help to coordinate climate change action across the city, a first for the Pacific region.
An ‘Adaptation Forum’ to discuss the proposed plan will be held in Honiara later this year, providing a further opportunity for stakeholder engagement and to build shared local ownership of joint action aimed at making the city more resilient and liveable.
Training was also conducted in partnership with the National Disaster Management Office and the Ministry of Lands to enable further assessment to be conducted locally and strengthen staff capacity.
Everyone in Honiara has a role to play in dealing with climate change: communities, the council, ministries, local NGOs, business, and international agencies.
It is through collaboration and working together that solutions to these critical challenges will be found. UN-Habitat and their scientific partners at RMIT University are committed to continuing their support for this ‘locally owned’ process.