A two-day urban resilience and climate adaptation forum, sponsored by UN-Habitat and facilitated by scientific experts from RMIT University, Melbourne, was held at the Commonwealth Youth Programme Conference Centre, Panatina, on the 4th and 5th of August.
Professor Darryn McEvoy, leader of the Climate Change Adaptation Program at RMIT University, says that “the event provided a valuable opportunity for different stakeholders to contribute to the development of a climate action plan for Honiara”.
This builds on a UN-Habitat vulnerability assessment carried out in 2013/14 and community consultation activities in May 2015, and moves the climate adaptation process beyond assessments to the actual implementation of actions on the ground. It will be the first comprehensive urban resilience and climate adaptation plan for any city in the Pacific”.
The first day of the forum, attended by 75 participants, focused at the Government level and was used to identify and endorse key climate and resilience objectives for different wards in the city, as well as highlighting actions that are needed city-wide.
Lord Mayor Alfrence Fatai formally opened the forum, highlighting the need for effective partnerships for achieving action and also raising the potential role of the Council for coordinating the range of activities being carried out in the city.
Important contributions by the Deputy Mayor, Eddie Ngava and Town Clerk, Charles Kelly, throughout the day, provided further evidence of the high-level support of the council to the development of an action plan that increases the climate resilience and liveability of Honiara.
The importance of collaborative action for responding to the challenges of climate change was also showcased by support from key ministries – Stanley Wale (PS, Ministry of Land, Housing and Survey) and Chanel Iroi (US, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Disaster Management), as well as the involvement of Charles Sisima (Deputy PS, Guadacanal Provincial Council) to introduce important cross-boundary issues and the challenges facing Greater Honiara.
Alexei Trundle, lead RMIT researcher on the climate resilience plan, stressed that the “attendance of a wide range of community representatives ensured that a range of voices contributed to the discussions and that the final action plan will be informed and owned by local communities.
All citizens have a role to play in moving towards more resilient neighbourhoods and a more liveable city”.
Day two provided the platform for NGOs, community organisations, donors and funders to go into more detail about priority actions for wards and the city as a whole, how they can be implemented, and to identify the champions and partnership opportunities that are needed to take the actions forward.
Findings from this important multi-stakeholder forum will be used to inform the development of a formal urban resilience and climate adaptation plan for Honiara which will be endorsed and supported by Honiara City Council and the Ministries of Ministry of Land, Housing and Survey, and the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Disaster Management.
Bernhard Barth of UN-Habitat says that “the work in Honiara is an important example of planning for climate change, and will form an important part of the UN-Habitat Cities and Climate Change Initiative in the Pacific.
UN-Habitat, together with international partners such as UNDP, remains committed to strengthening urban resilience in the Solomon Islands”.
The Honiara Urban Resilience and Climate Adaptation Plan will be launched later in 2015.
Organisers also acknowledge and remember the life of Moira McEvoy, Professor Darryn McEvoy’s mother who passed away in Scotland the day the action plan took hold at the Honiara Forum.
In her memory this climate action plan will be implemented.
Honiara City Council is the local governing unit for the City of Honiara.
The Council plays a major role in the city’s development and is responsible for over $500 million of infrastructure including sports and recreation facilities, markets, libraries, parks, schools and health clinics.
The Council also provides over 100 services and programs for local communities. Every time a person leaves their house they are using services provided by the Council.