USAID Supports 10-month Program for Young Climate Leaders in Solomon Islands

Honiara, Solomon Islands — The U.S. Government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), supported the National Democratic Institute (NDI) to launch a 10-month program which helps young people develop skills to advocate on behalf of their communities and the environment in Solomon Islands.

Through a competitive process, 25 emerging youth leaders were selected to attend a two-phased program. Since November, participants from Isabel, Malaita, Temotu, and Western Provinces virtually joined participants in Honiara for weekly sessions, which will continue until February. Following the course, the young leaders will have the opportunity to develop and lead their own initiatives to monitor and advocate for better governance of the environmental sector.

Screenshot of Zoom Meeting with participants' videos.
Screenshot of the virtual program launch, November 26, 2021.

“The United States is proud to support these youth climate advocates to improve their skills and strengthen their advocacy against climate change and the exploitation of natural resources,” said Russell Comeau, Director of the U.S. Embassy Office in Solomon Islands, at the November launch session. “Young people will bear the brunt of our decisions now and in the future. So it’s only right that they are a central force in our climate action today.”

The program aims to create and support a network of young advocates to strengthen independent monitoring of public policy implementation in the mining, logging and environmental protection sectors, and to build skills and evidence-based advocacy plans that respond to community interests and prioritize the safe inclusion of all community groups.

With the support of USAID, NDI will promote the youths’ agency in affecting change in the economic sectors most vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. The program also seeks to elevate the participants’ interests in the policy-making process and develop strong working relationships with government officials, local organizations, and traditional leaders. The end goal is a more transparent, effective, and inclusive government that improves the well-being of citizens in Solomon Islands.

“As an environmentalist, I wish to achieve and learn great things from this program. I wish to work closely with communities so that I learn what actually they are facing due to the environmental issues and how well they are able to manage their natural resources,” said Zitinah Milcy Rotu, a young community activist from Isabel Province. “Once I complete the program, I want to use the learned skills and knowledge to help educate my people on the importance of the environment and its natural resources and ways to help protect them.”

“Participants will learn from international trainers, guest speakers, and each other about how to advocate for more integrity in key economic sectors. Those who complete the course will be invited to apply for seed funding up to $2,500 USD per initiative to implement community-based projects to improve the integrity of natural resources management and environment policies and projects. These projects can focus on awareness-raising, advocacy, or political process monitoring, depending on the locally-identified priorities,” said Ancuta Hansen, NDI Senior Director for the Pacific Islands.

Solomon Islands, like other Pacific Island countries, is bearing the brunt of climate change, which has been accelerated by the exploitation of natural resources. This program draws on findings from  national public opinion research conducted by NDI in 2021, which shows that Solomon Islanders are increasingly concerned about the governance of natural resources management and the environment, and call on citizens to proactively demand for more political integrity and sound decision making.

In Solomon Islands, USAID works with government partners and other stakeholders to draft and implement policies to achieve climate change adaptation goals; access larger amounts of financing from international adaptation funds; and improve the skills and systems to better manage and monitor adaptation projects.

For more information about this program, or NDI’s work in the Pacific Islands, please contact Ancuta Hansen at ahansen@ndi.org.

For more information about USAID’s work in Solomon Islands, please visit: https://www.usaid.gov/pacific-islands