SIG continues working towards protecting the Upper Catchment environment of Tina River Hydropower Development Project after COP28

Following its participation in the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP28), the Solomon Islands Government, through the Tina River Hydropower Development Project’s (TRHDP) lead ministry, Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification (MMERE) have reiterated its unwavering commitment towards a better management of the Tina River Upper Catchment with the objectives of preserving the rich biodiversity of the area. This commitment includes seeking climate adaptation funding through the newly launched FATEI financing platform, by emphasising the importance of enhancing environmental and indigenous intactness. 

The Tina River Hydropower Development Project, a significant climate change infrastructure initiative, aims to harness renewable energy potential in the Solomon Islands. While the development of this project is essential to reducing the cost of electricity and improving access, the government also acknowledges the importance of addressing potential environmental impacts and ensuring the preservation of the customary lands and resources of the indigenous people attached to the Upper Catchment area.  This was also highlighted as a key theme at COP28, where the Solomon Islands Government actively engaged in global discussions on climate change and its impacts. The outcomes of these discussions have reinforced the government's determination to prioritise the environment and rights of the indigenous communities around the hydropower project.

Head of the Solomon Island Delegation for COP28, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, Dr Melchior Mataki being interviewed for TV.

One crucial aspect of the government's commitment is to enhance intactness within the Upper Catchment environment. This involves implementing strategies to maintain the ecological integrity of the area, safeguarding its biodiversity, and preserving the ecosystem services it provides to the surrounding communities. By prioritising intactness, the Solomon Islands Government aims to strike a balance between sustainable development and the preservation of indigenous culture, heritage, and livelihoods. 

To date, numerous steps have been taken to meet its obligation including the participation in a Project Financiers meeting in Sydney in January 2023, the development an Upper Catchment Stakeholder Engagement and Communication strategy and the creation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which will deny logging and mining in the Upper Catchment.  Its ongoing implementation will result in a net gain of biodiversity values and contribute to broader benefits including protection of areas of Solomon Islands Rainforest, parts of the Guadalcanal Watershed Key Biodiversity Area, and remaining Critical Habitat. 

Head of the Solomon Island Delegation for COP28, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, Dr Melchior Mataki stated, “The activation of the Tina River Hydropower Project will help reduce our reliance on diesel fossil fuels and cut emissions in the Pacific; that is step 1 and in line with the main theme discussed in Dubai.  But that is not enough.  Step 2 is to ensure we protect the Upper Catchment and to achieve this objective, the government will now continue to seek climate adaptation funding through the newly launched financing platform called FATEI, Financing Adaptation Through Enhanced Intactness.” 

The FATEI platform, designed to support climate-resilient projects and initiatives, provides an opportunity for the Solomon Islands to access resources necessary for implementing measures that protect the Upper Catchment environment. These measures will be devised in consultation with local communities and stakeholders, ensuring their active participation and empowerment throughout the process. The Solomon Island Government who is implementing the renewable energy project has already had financing and support from the Green Climate Fund, Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, the Asian Development Bank, the Government of Australia, Korea EX-IM Economic Development Cooperation Fund, and the World Bank. 

SIG’s pledge to protect the Upper Catchment environment for the indigenous people of the Tina River Hydropower Development Project demonstrates its dedication to sustainable development and climate resilience. With cross ministry collaboration required to access and implement the FATEI financing platform, the government strives to ensure that the hydropower project's benefits are realised while avoiding adverse effects on the indigenous communities and their environment as it aims to set a precedent for responsible and climate-resilient development in the region. 

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