Apia, Samoa – on 6th Septemeber 2023, the rich tapestry of cultures found within the Solomon Islands was on display during the opening day of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) officials meeting. Solomon Island students studying under APTC program in Apia, performed dances from some of the provinces in Solomon Islands, offering a glimpse of what awaits the Pacific at the 2023 Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
A side event on the ‘Greening of the 2023 Pacific Games’ hosted by the Solomon Island Government with support from the Australian Government-funded Pacific Ocean Litter Project (POLP) showcased the efforts by the Solomon Islands Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) to support the ‘Greening of the Games activities outlined in the Safe and Green Games Strategy.
In March 2023, the Solomon Islands Government launched a ‘Safe and Green Games Strategy’, providing the platform to galvanise the nation to unite as one team to make Honiara a safe, and green host city.
The Secretary to the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands and the Chairman of the Pacific Games National Hosting Authority, Dr. Jimmy Rodgers in a pre-recorded statement acknowledged SPREP for its contribution to the ‘Safe and Green Games’ strategy.
“SPREP has stood tall among our CROP agencies in supporting the 2023 Pacific Games, injecting a total investment of approximately SBD 4.8 million, making SPREP the 10th largest contributor to the Pacific Games. Thank you very much indeed for that support,” Dr Rodgers said.
“We anticipate more than 8,000 visitors, 5,000 of whom are athletes, officials, and representatives from the 24 sporting nations that will send their teams to compete in the Solomon Islands. But it also includes representatives from the various international sporting federations and members of a broadcasting team of more than 100 people. We are now in the final stretch, in the sprint phase and we anticipate all our facilities will be delivered by the middle of October,” Dr Rodgers added.
Speaking at the panel discussion, the Permanent Secretary of MECDM, Dr. Melchior Mataki, said, “we take immense pride in our commitment to hosting an environmentally conscious, green, and secure 2023 Pacific Games. Just last Friday, on September 1st, a nationwide ban on specific single-use plastics came into effect, marking a significant step in our efforts to combat plastic waste in our country.”
“Sports can motivate and inspire change. We hope the games and this plastic regulation including other environmentally friendly, sustainable and green initiatives will have a lasting legacy effect on our people and our natural environment,” Mr Mataki added.
The Project Manager for POLP, Luatutu Andrea Volentras conveyed during the panel discussion, “Through a ‘One SPREP’ approach, various projects and programmes at SPREP are joining forces to support the ‘Greening of the Games’ activities. These include the development of a regulation to ban certain single-use plastics, clean up campaigns and waste audits, tree planting and carbon offset activities, assistance with forecasting for sporting events, youth involvement, public education and awareness activities”.
The Director of the Australian Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (Australia), Ms. Nicole Coombe reaffirmed Australia’s commitment in the global fight to solve plastic pollution, highlighting the significance of regional and international events like the Pacific Games to influence and change behaviours.
“The POLP project was involved in the Greening of the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa, the recently completed International Va’a Federation World Distance Championship and the upcoming Pacific Games in Honiara.”
“We are pleased to be a friend and partner for the Pacific in this endeavour. POLP was born out of the Pacific Regional Action Plan for Marine Litter and is one of the activities under the plan that Australia is proud of supporting through actions to refuse, reduce and find alternatives to single-use plastics,” Ms. Coombe said.
The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme through the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology is providing SBD 4.8millon in assistance through various programmes and projects to support the ‘Greening of the Games’ activities.
The support is made possible through the Australian government funded Pacific Ocean litter Project (POLP), the Pacific Climate Change Centre, Agence Française de Développement funded Committing to Sustainable Waste Actions in the Pacific (SWAP) Project, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) ISLANDS Pacific Project, the Pacific – European Union (EU) Waste Management Programme (PacWastePlus), the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) Early Warning System Pacific Small Islands Developing States (CREWS Pacific SIDS) project.