Honiara, Solomon Islands – The U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the Government of Solomon Islands signed the $20 million U.S. dollar MCC-Solomon Islands Threshold Program today, formalizing a partnership that aims to alleviate poverty and encourage sustainable development in the island nation.
MCC’s Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mahmoud Bah joined U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu, Erin McKee, and Minister of National Planning and Development Coordination for the Government of Solomon Islands, Hon. Rexon Ramofafia, for a virtual signing ceremony celebrating the positive impact this program will have on Solomon Islands’ forestry and tourism sectors.
“We are thrilled to launch the MCC-Solomon Islands program to bring more reliable, sustainable benefits from the country’s precious forest resources by balancing regulatory procedures and ensuring a more equitable allocation of generated revenues,” said MCC Acting CEO Mahmoud Bah. “Our partnership will support the government of Solomon Islands to better manage land access issues, which will facilitate investments and generate growth in the country’s critical tourism sector. Collectively, this means a country led climate conscious approach to generating economic growth, jobs, and a more sustainable future for the people of the Solomon Islands.”
The MCC-Solomon Islands investment will feature two projects: The Forest Value Enhancement Project and the Accessing Land for Tourism Investment Facilitation Project. The Solomon Islands’ Minister of Culture and Tourism, Hon. Bartholomew Parapolo, will lead the work on the ALTIF project to identify land with high potential for tourism investment for investors and educating communities in the country.
“I commend the inclusive and consultative approach that has been taken to develop this MCC Threshold program,” said Hon. Ramofafia. “The approach has allowed the Government to take ownership and leadership over the MCC program. Indeed, our engagement with the MCC is one that is based on a true and genuine spirit of partnership. The Solomon Islands Government supports such a clear and transparent approach to development assistance and encourages other programs to take a similar approach.”
“These projects address important priorities for the Solomon Islands,” added Hon. Ramofafia. “Moving forward into recovery post-covid 19, the forestry and tourism sectors will remain vital to support the economic base and recovery for Solomon Islands.”
The forestry enhancement project will provide Solomon Islands’ communities with economically viable alternatives to unsustainable logging practices and generate more eco-friendly, reliable benefits from the country’s natural forests. The land and tourism project will target Solomon Islands’ tourism sector by working with the government to make land access more responsive to the needs and well-being of local communities while enhancing the attractiveness of public and private investments to the sector.
During the ceremony, Ambassador McKee said, “I commend Prime Minister Sogavare and the government for partnering with the U.S. government on this threshold program. This signing ceremony represents our ambition to deepen our friendship with the people of Solomon Islands. When you asked for our assistance, we responded. That’s what friends, allies, and trusted partners do.”
MCC’s threshold programs are smaller-scale grants awarded to countries that are committed to improving policy performance through policy reform and strengthened institutional capacity. MCC has signed 30 threshold programs totaling roughly $713 million since its inception and is currently developing programs in Kenya and Kiribati.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation is an independent U.S. government agency working to reduce global poverty through economic growth. Created in 2004, MCC provides time-limited grants and assistance to countries that meet rigorous standards for good governance, fighting corruption and respecting democratic rights.