Four different test sites for the ACoM Environment Observatory, an observatory run by local people with the help of the Anglican Church of Melanesia to create scientific evidence of climate change in the Solomon Islands, did I help to establish during my stay in the Solomon Islands. These test sites are located at Selwyn College, Guadalcanal, Fanalei Island and Walande, South Malaita, and at the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) in the capital Honiara.
While the test sites at Fanalei Island and Walande are run by representatives of the rural communities and focus mainly on data collection to support their claim for assistance in tackling climate change impacts in their communities, Selwyn College and SINU will involve students in the data collection process for the observatory and will stress its function as an educational tool.
Starting from a brilliant thought by Dr Adam Bobbette (UNSW), the idea of a people-led observatory, supported by the Anglican Church of Melanesia, has now come into existence. While there is still much work to be done, it is great to see “Green Apostles” taking measurements, communities becoming interested in science and climate change, and stakeholder like the government acknowledging and supporting the project.
In my last week in Honiara, I met with the Head of the Climate Change Office of the Ministry of Environment, Hudson Kauhiona, the Head of the Meteorological Services, David Hiriasia, as well as with representatives of the Solomon Islands National University and regional non-governmental agencies such as the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency. There was great interest in the observatory project and the data that it will generate in the future.
Following the increased interest in the observatory and facilitated by the continuous support of the bishops, ACoM headquarters, and the Melanesian Mission UK, we were able to hire a new staff member at ACoM headquarters, who will manage the observatory on the ground. Freda Fataka, a young, intelligent graduate from SINU, will start to work on the observatory project alongside ACoM’s project office staff and the research team in mid-November.
The idea is to roll out the ACoM Environment Observatory to more communities in the Solomon Islands over the next years by training students at the theological colleges in climate change and field measurements, so that priests in the Solomon Islands can become leaders of climate change mitigation and adaptation in their communities.
It feels like a first milestone for the project is reached and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who I am working with and who made this possible, but especially the “Green Apostles” (Naphtali Lakwolly, Alfred Bale, Joseph Faifu, George Horoasia), the training course participants, Dr Adam Bobbette, Fr. Nigel Kelaepa, Casper Supa, my supervisors and the Melanesian Mission UK.