10 September 2016
From the High Commissioner's Desk Column
This week, Australia hosted our annual G’day Solomon Islands Great Debate which brought together students from four local high schools to debate issues around climate change. The Great Debate is an opportunity for young people to develop confidence in public speaking and to think critically about the development of Solomon Islands.
This was the third year we’ve hosted the debate and I’m pleased to say that the students debating skills and the quality of their arguments continues to improve each year. This is a great testament to the hard work of the students and their teachers. It was great to see the teamwork and comradery displayed by the teams. I’d like to congratulate again the four teams who participated for their excellent performances.
There are few issues more likely to impact on the life of Pacific people over the next 50 years than climate change. The debaters reminded us that Solomon Islanders are already experiencing the alarming results of climate change. Changing weather patterns are putting Solomon Islands at greater risk of natural disasters than ever before and could threaten food and water security in the future.
Of course, leaders around the world are working to curb climate change and its worrying impacts. In December last year, leaders agreed to the historic Paris Agreement which set in place a durable and dynamic framework for all countries to take climate action.
And in just a few days, leaders from across the Pacific region will discuss climate change and disaster risk reduction at the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Summit with the hope of endorsing a new regional framework that will see coordinated action to build resilience to the impacts of climate change across the Pacific.
I know that Solomon Islands has a robust plan to reduce emissions, build resilience and utilise clean energy. And Australia is also committed to do its part to support international efforts to tackle climate change. Prime Minister Turnbull has announced that Australia would provide at least $1 billion (SBD5.9 billion) to build climate change resilience and reduce emissions in developing countries over the next five years.
Still, climate change is a complex issue that will require a strategic, creative and flexible response from the leaders of today and tomorrow. That’s why it’s important that young people have the opportunity to lend their voices to this important debate.