By Patrick Pee - UNDP Solomon Islands
Championing Development at the Solomon Islands Pacific Games 23
December 5, 2023
Honiara, Solomon Islands: The Sols23 Pacific Games have become more than just a sports event; they have symbolized a unity and collective strength for the Solomon Islands under it’s theme ‘Iumi na Iumi’ – ‘We and Us’.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare encapsulated this sentiment, emphasizing, "One people, one nation, we are Solomon Islands." And echoing his pride, billboards around the city proclaimed, "One team, one flag, one dream."
Together with the spirit of unity, values like teamwork, preparedness, fair play, and sustainability have taken the podium in Honiara these two weeks while Solomon Islands scored gold between its Pacific neighbors. These values align closely with the core principles of development in what UNDP is championing with our work with youth and peacebuilding, good governance, and climate action.
The success of the Games mirrors good preparedness and a strengthened disaster risk management, mirroring UNDP's support to the Government of Solomon Islands. This might seem a small but essential part of the Games, however UNDP through the Integrated Disaster Risk Management Project has also partnered with the government in strengthening the overall country's emergency response function.
I had the privilege to experience the Games myself presenting medals at the women's discus throw competition, a meaningful invitation that happened during the 16 Days of Activism that emphasize the importance of empowering women to fight the challenges they face and the violence they endure.
As I walked towards the podium, to honor the achievements of these young outstanding women athletes after their hard-earned work, I too feel like a champion myself with my full support to women in their development to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
#OutstandingWomen echoes one of the components of Strengthening the Electoral Cycle in the Solomon Islands project that aligns with this inclusive purpose. It is definitely by aligning forces that we must strive to together win the SDGs race.
I remember athletes from across the Pacific at the opening ceremony chanting: "One Pacific. One Games." And I remember too initiatives by UNDP to strengthen good governance across many of these countries, strengthening public institutions as a cornerstone of their development journey and toward the achievement of the SDGs.
Amidst the celebration, a sense of sadness and urgency arised, with the ongoing COP 28 in Dubai adding a layer of significance, highlighting the Pacific´s daunting challenge—climate change, including island nations in danger of being submerged.
UNDP's Coastal Adaptation initiatives in Tuvalu and Marshall Islands showcase proactive steps towards mitigating rising sea levels. All these efforts are bolstering Solomon Islands' and the Pacific development journey aligning with the pursuit of the SDGs. Grateful for the collaboration with our international partners and the Government of Solomon Islands in this impactful effort.
Congratulations to the athletes, the Government of Solomon Islands, the Pacific Games' organizers and the entire Pacific region for their enthusiastic participation. Together we all win!
Patrick Pee is the Operations Manager with UNDP Solomon Islands.