The Solomon Islands is a sprawling archipelago spread over more than 900 islands divided into nine provinces. Solomon Islanders number approximately 0.6 million (2017 est.) and speak more than 70 languages attesting to the islands’ tremendous cultural diversity.
A multilateral Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) was deployed to support the restoration of rule of law as requested by the Solomon Islands Government in 2003 when the violent ‘Tensions’ escalated. Its operations gradually scaled down since 2013 and completed its withdrawal in June 2017.
Maintaining peace and stability is a priority for the Solomon Islands in the post-RAMSI period. Through dialogues at provincial and national level with wide participation of citizens, a number of priorities for sustaining peace were identified, including: national reconciliation and reparations; land and natural resource management and dispute resolution; border security; empowerment of women and youth; decentralization and rural development; and inclusive governance and accountable leadership.
Ensuring effective systems for justice dispensation is considered by the people as a critical component for national peace and stability. Despite significant improvements in the justice system, challenges remain in delivering access to formal justice services to people in rural and remote area, with institutional constraint. Strong institutions with improved accountability, transparency and integrity is one of the key areas the government and civil society in Solomon Islands have been aspiring for.
Solomon Islands is very young country: seven out of ten Solomon Islanders are younger than 29 years old. This huge demographic segment has not been targeted enough by development assistance and peacebuilding work and suffer from high unemployment. The lack of stable employment opportunities affect income generation and poverty reduction efforts and makes youth extremely vulnerable to crime and violence. The 2018 Solomon Islands State of Youth Report reveals challenges faced by youth: they feel disadvantaged, disempowered and have low self-esteem. Youth are marginalized from social, economic and political activities in their communities.
Solomon Islands’ women have had full suffrage since 1974; however, the country has only ever had three women Parliamentarians. Political marginalization of women contributes to the undervaluing women and high rate of sexual and gender-based violence and both are factors in the alienation of half population, weakening the social fabric essential for peace and stability. Young women face the double disadvantage of both social expectation of their age and their gender. Women have played important role as advocate for peace, but that role is limited by their influence on decision making processes.
Solomon Islands ranked 152th for 2017 in UNDP’s 2018 Human Development Report, which put the country in the Low Human Development category. Since 1990 Solomon Islands’ life expectancy at birth, mean years of schooling, and expected years of schooling have increased, as well as the country’s GNI per capita increased by about 16.0 per cent, to USD 1,872 in 2017. However, Solomon Islands faces many development challenges.
One of the major challenges the country face is the high cost and administrative difficulty of delivering services to a largely subsistence population dispersed across many islands with minimal infrastructure and expensive transport links. The majority of Solomon Islanders (approx. 85%) live in remote rural areas.
The concentration of administration, economic activity and services in the capital Honiara has resulted in high levels of rural to urban migration, overburdening services and contributing to tensions between groups. Despite being more developed than its surroundings, Honiara’s economy is small and slow-growing, and does not provide sufficient employment opportunities to meet the demand.
The impact of climate change, particularly sea-level rise and pronounced droughts have severe consequences on water and sanitation in the country, particularly low-lying coastal areas and atoll islands. Efforts addressing climate change are impacting on the limited capacity of the country. The population using improved drinking-water sources has decreased from 80.2 per cent in 2000 to 64 per cent in 2015. (HDR 2018) Water resource management in the Solomon Islands is below regional standards and requires significant improvement.
Efforts and progress were made in achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). However, Solomon Islands did not meet any of the MDG targets by 2015. To address the gaps UNDP in close collaboration with other UN agencies supports the targeted efforts of the government to reach the most vulnerable people. We support the government to mainstream Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in national plans, sectoral plans, and their monitoring and evaluation plans, as well as to raise awareness of the public on the SDGs. Also, in discussion with the private sector to increase awareness around SDG. This is supported through the regional technical facility, as well as the country-level facility.
Leading the UN Joint Presence Office in Solomon Islands, UNDP Solomon Islands works with people and their governments to address those various development challenges the country faces.
As part of UNDP's global development network which works in about 170 countries and territories, we help Solomon Islands to develop policies, leadership skills, partnering abilities, institutional capabilities and build resilience in order to sustain development results. We assist the country to advance the global 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda as tailored to the priorities of Solomon Islands, and achieve the SDGs through programmes to leave no one behind.
Guided by the Sub-regional Programme Document for the Pacific Island Countries and Territories 2018-2022, we respond to global and national development challenges and support the country’s own solutions, with focus on these key areas:
- Inclusive Growth
- Democratic Governance and Peacebuilding
- Resilience and Sustainable Development