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Solomon Islands - Australia’s commitment to strengthening climate and disaster resilience in the Pacific

At the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum, Australia pledged to spend $500 million over five years (2020-2025) to strengthen climate change and disaster resilience in the Pacific. This builds on Australia’s strong support for Pacific climate change and disaster resilience, and success in exceeding a 2016 commitment to spend $300 million over four years (2016-2020). Australia is committed to working in partnership with the Government of Solomon Islands to meet the needs and aspirations of its people to build resilience to climate change and disaster events.

Climate change and disaster impacts in Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the impacts of climate change and disasters. Cyclones and storms strike often, causing severe flooding. Drought is also a serious threat. With over 80 per cent of the population living in low-lying coastal areas, storm surge, king tides and sea level rise present significant challenges.

  • In Solomon Islands, cyclones like 2020’s Tropical Cyclone Harold cause severe flooding, leading to loss of life and damage to critical infrastructure. Australia is working with Solomon Islands Government to help ensure that social infrastructure and new education buildings are resilient to the impacts of climate change.
  • The 2015 El Niño drought disrupted food and water supplies in parts of the country for months, impacting communities recovering from previous floods and cyclones. Providing better access to relevant climate science for farmers is helping increase the resilience of farming communities and businesses.
  • The average annual loss due to earthquakes and tropical cyclones in Solomon Islands is estimated at around USD20 million and is likely to increase as climate change impacts intensify. Australia is supporting civil society organisations to implement disaster risk reduction actions locally, helping increase resilience of communities to disasters.
  • Women and men and people with disability experience the impacts of climate change and disasters in different ways. Often, the capacities and needs of marginalised groups are overlooked. Australia is helping build gender-responsive and inclusive approaches to disaster risk reduction in Solomon Islands.

Bilateral programs

Australia has provided approximately $46.1 million in bilateral climate change and disaster resilience support to Solomon Islands since 2016. This support is built into many programs, including in the infrastructure, energy, community, governance and education sectors.

  • The Tina River Hydropower project, co-funded by Australia ($19.3 million, 2017-2024) will provide secure, affordable power for businesses and households in Honiara. The project will meet 100 percent of Solomon Islands’ emissions reduction target under the Paris Agreement.
  • Australia provided $3.5 million ($1.1 million 2016-2020 climate change and disaster finance) for the redevelopment of the Gizo Market (through UN Women Markets for Change). This market includes a reinforced structure able to withstand a Category 5 cyclone, and a new sea wall to prevent flooding and reduce the risk of erosion. The market survived Cyclone Harold in 2020 and was able to resume trading quickly.
  • The Strongim Bisnis program ($2.9 million 2016-2020 in climate and disaster finance of $14 million 2017-2020 project total) supports inclusive growth and resilience in the cocoa, coconut, tourism sectors as well as women’s participation and empowerment. It actively identifies commercial opportunities within environmental protection to promote improved environmental and social outcomes.
  • The new design for Solomon Islands Infrastructure Program ($250 million over 10 years), includes resources and activities for ensuring that climate change and disaster risks are assessed and factored into design criteria, construction standards and maintenance programs.
  • The Education Sector Support Program ($97 million Australian contribution 2015-2023; $10 million 2016-2020 in climate and disaster finance) delivered in partnership with Solomon Islands and New Zealand, is delivering certified school buildings rated to Category 4 cyclone standard, and is working to better integrate climate change into curriculum, education resources and teacher training.
  • The Gender Inequality of Risk program ($2 million, 2018-2021), implemented by UN Women and UNDRR, is integrating climate change risks in Solomon Islands community-based disaster risk management, and helping ensure that women’s rights are properly considered during disaster preparedness, response and recovery.

Regional and global programs

A range of regional and global climate change investments are working directly to build climate change and disaster resilience in the Solomon Islands, including:

  • The Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific Phase 2 (COSPPac) ($23.3 million, 2018-2022) supports the Solomon Islands Meteorological Service to provide climate and ocean monitoring and prediction services. Climate predictions help farmers plan for planting and harvesting, and Pacific island countries to prepare for disasters like droughts and tropical cyclones. Ocean predictions (tide, currents, wind and waves) support fishing, tourism and shipping.
  • The Pacific Governance for Resilient Development in the Pacific program (Gov4Res) (Australian contribution $10.4 million, 2019-2022) supports governments across the region to include climate change and disaster risk factors in their planning, budgeting and implementation.
  • In partnership with the Pacific Horticultural & Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA Plus) program ($35.6 million, 2018-2022), Australia is supporting development of climate change resilient farming practices for root crop farmers in Solomon Islands (e.g. water conservation, resilient varieties).
  • Geoscience Australia has generated hazard maps and taken part in technical consultations for informed decision-making around disaster risk reduction in Solomon Islands, especially for tsunami hazard on the Guadalcanal growth corridor.
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