In the Solomon Islands, climate change isn’t a future concern – its effects are very real and very worrying right now. But with no Greens in their national parliament, how can the urgency of climate action be made known at a national level?
By Edward Pae
Over the years, the Green Party of the Solomon Islands (GPSI) has participated in the nation’s general elections as a political party, with registered members of the party running under its banners as candidates. In the recent national elections of 2019, three candidates contested under the GPSI umbrella, though unfortunately none of them made it through.
Through its nine-year history, GPSI hasn’t been successful in getting any MPs into the national parliament of the Solomon Islands. It has tried hard to no avail, though it has very good policies in place that many Solomon Islands commentators believe should be adapted to form part of the basis of the National Government’s Policy and Re-Direction Plan on Climate Change.
The Solomon Islands are made of very small islands where the effects of climate change are very evident. People have been living in worry, and are uncertain about their future and that of their children and children’s children.
It is indeed a very worrying trend in this country and seriously needs the national government’s attention. But how can this worrying issue be taken into parliament to be debated – and its urgency be made known at the national level – with no one in the parliament to champion GPSI polices?
The new GPSI Executive (yet to be elected) has an urgent task ahead. Fielding as many candidates as possible in the upcoming national general election in 2023/2024 is not an option but a must, taking into consideration party members nationwide. In the recent GPSI convention in May, the Registrar of the Political Parties Commission spelled out very clearly that in order to have more winning candidates in upcoming elections, a political party has to have as many members as possible.
So with this in mind, the current GPSI caretaking executive has endorsed setting up provincial-based GPSI branches in every province as its next important project. Having fully functional and active GPSI provincial branches in place is vital; educating rural-based people on the core values and party policies and guidelines of GPSI can be easily done through awareness and so forth. Thereafter, people can then sign up and become members of the Green Party of Solomon Islands.
Currently, GPSI is only active in Isabel and Temotu Provinces. It is urgent that we also activate our movement in the other seven provinces, including Honiara City Council. A way forward on this is to have representatives from all the provinces in the upcoming GPSI National Executive, as it will form the basis of carrying the party’s visions, goals and activities in the provinces.
The Solomon Islands are made up of so many scattered islands, and so going around provinces recruiting party members by a team would be very expensive and time-consuming. Recruiting members from the very rural areas of the country would be an easier task working with the provincial based branches.
Keeping the momentum and focus of rural based members is another thing that mustn’t be overlooked. Events leading to elections are normally very critical in this country, especially when money is at play to lure voter support.
Money players normally emerge during the lead-up to elections, corrupting electoral processes for personal gain. This is very evident in the past – after elections there will be more election petition cases filed against election offenders, especially the winning candidates.
This is how this country has been going – and for how long will it continue to go this way? The answer to this rests only on Solomon Islanders who must stand up and fight against malpractices during elections. GPSI is serious and can take the helm in starting the fight, with the help of NGOs and other stakeholders working in partnership against evil practices during elections. We will stand up for free and fair elections where people can exercise their voting rights fully – without intimidation and corruption.
The current GPSI team will deliberate more on our plans and goals, and put our focus on what needs to be done now to avoid last minute repercussions. We are committed to seeing as many GPSI MPs elected to the parliament as possible. This will come with proper planning, teamwork and commitment.
It is time for the GPSI to rise and help Solomon Islanders reflect on their past and reason for a better, prosperous and vibrant future. We will work for a country where people live in harmony with common understanding, together tackle issues of national concern, and address them immediately as they surface.
The Australian Greens International Development Committee (IDC) has worked with The Green Party Solomon Islands in a support capacity over the past four years.
Edward Pae is a member of the GPSI Working Team.