The Solomon Islands has made a call for a three-year extension to its planned graduation as a Least Developing Country, in December 2024.
In a statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade at the 5th Conference of Least Developed Countries, in Doha, Qatar, a plea for shifting that graduation date until December 2027 takes its cue from the climate change crisis and economic challenges in building back from the worsening weather, as well as other impacts.
“This year is the thirty –second year since Solomon Islands was classified as LDCs. –As a LDC country we can only make this plea for more sustainable development investments. The time has come for us to look at developing a legally binding climate Agreement that shifts away from voluntary to mandatory climate commitment to ensure everyone do their fair share in protecting our planet, people and future,” Manele told the conference.
He said doing more climate action “is part of Solomon Islands efforts to have a resilient Smooth Transition Strategy (STS) to graduate out of our LDC status.”
He said the three-year extension would help the country to “to pick up where we left off due to disruption caused by the 2020 COVID-19, 2021 civil unrest and the growing impact of climate change with a time bound roadmap with milestones to develop our strategy.”
Minister Manele referred to the climate change crisis as a ‘run-away’ situation.
“Ambition under the Paris Agreement is so low, already global temperature is at 1.2 degrees Celsius and under the current trajectory we are heading to a more than 3 degrees world. The slow global climate action is undermining the 2030 Agenda and sadly the world is spending more on wars than on saving humanity.”
As both a least developed country and a Small Islands Developing state, the Solomon Islands is located in a climate hot spot with the 2021 World Risk Report placing it as the second most exposed country to disasters.
“Our countries are in a constant recovery mode from extreme weather events, and Climate change remains a threat multiplier,” he said.
Earlier in the LDC5 and across other sessions at the Doha conference hosted by Qatar, Tuvalu PM Kausea Natano and Tonga PM Hu’akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni as well as the Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General, Henry Puna, had noted support for the Solomon Islands call for an extension of graduation. Pacific SIDS, even those already graduated, have argued for more flexibility and support from a framework that acknowledges the devastating economic impact of disasters caused by the climate crisis. Samoa, on behalf of AOSIS, also provided inputs to the conference.
“There is enough technology, finance, capacity and capability to turn things around but it requires the “haves” to invest in the “have nots”, Minister Manele said, “The Doha Programme of Action provides a framework to do that. The world needs to adopt a low carbon economy. Renewable energy will open economic opportunities, create jobs and transform the lives of LDC citizens including Solomon Islands”.
Echoing the call from UNSG Antonio Guterres earlier in the week that a funding revolution is what is needed to help meet the needs of the least developed countries, Manele said, “We need to prepare our people for what is to come as ocean acidification increases beyond safe levels… Acidification will threaten the livelihoods, food, water securities of our peoples including our economies. Fishing grounds are shifting, and tourism is under threat.”
The world’s Least Developed Countries or LDCs face disappointing outcomes in the global race to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. In the remaining seven years, new global partnerships to ensure the 46 countries benefit from social, economic and environmental development are planned.
The Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) has been touted as once-in-a-decade opportunity to accelerate sustainable development in the places where international assistance is needed the most – and to tap the full potential of the Least Developed Countries helping them make progress on the road to prosperity.
Calling for the promise of Loss and Damage funding mechanisms and US$100 billion for climate which has yet to appear, Manele warned the millions of people being displaced by climate change from their nations “could turn our warm war against climate change into a hot war of survival.”
A decision on the graduation status of the Solomon Islands has yet to be confirmed.