Solomon Islands: New report offers way forward for communities affected by logging

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The negative impacts of logging on human rights in Solomon Islands remain largely unaddressed, despite promises made by the government at the United Nations. In a new publication, based on focus-groups discussions with over 300 people, Franciscans International provides an overview of the most pressing issues and offers concrete steps forward.

The publication was developed in close collaboration with Dominicans for Justice and Peace, the Society of Saint Francis, the Dominican Network in the Solomon Islands, and the Community of the Sisters of the Church (Solomon Islands – Pacific Province).

Following reports collected by Franciscans and Dominicans in communities living near logging sites, we first raised our concerns ahead of the 2021 Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Solomon Islands. At the end of this process, during which the human rights record of all UN Member States is examined on a rotating basis, the government made several commitments to improve the situation. In October 2022, we visited six of the affected communities on Guadalcanal Island to ascertain the reality on the ground.

“We found that logging continues to disrupt almost all aspects of life for people who traditionally have a close relationship with the environment and rely on it for water, food, and medicine,” says Budi Tjahjono, FI’s Asia-Pacific Coordinator. “Other issues caused with logging, including the introduction of invasive species, conflict within communities, and domestic trafficking of young women and girls, threaten to cause generational harm.”

“The impacts of logging on human rights in Solomon Islands” offers a comprehensive overview of our key findings and breaks these down in seven thematic issues. Looking at the recommendations accepted during Solomon Islands’ latest UPR, the report also provides immediate steps that can be taken to both mitigate the harm already caused by logging and prevent similar issues during future projects.

A Pijin translation of the report is expected to be ready in September to ensure that it is accessible at the grassroots level. Building on their deep roots in Solomon Islands, local Franciscans and Dominicans  are also incorporating the findings in their pastoral work to help further strengthen community resilience.

“It is our hope that this publication will make a positive contribution by proactively offering the government avenues that reflect the reality on the ground to start implementing the commitment it has made,” says Mr. Tjahjono. “It is not too late to meet these challenges, but it is imperative that meaningful action is taken now.”