Historic Dialogues Foster Community Engagement and Women and Youth Inclusion in Extractive Activities in Rennel

May 21, 2024

Mr. Patrick Reoka, a representative from Solomon Island's Ministry of Infrastructures addresses partticipants during the discussions.


Honiara, Solomon Islands: In a groundbreaking series of dialogues orchestrated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with World Vision International (WVI), stakeholders convened in Tigoa and Honiara to address pressing issues surrounding extractive activities in Rennell.

Under the "Bridging Traditional Governance and Rule of Law through Youths’ Participation as Agents of Peace and Change in Rennel and Bellona" project, funded by the Peacebuilding Fund, these dialogues mark a significant step towards constructive engagement and sustainable solutions around land ownership, extractive industries, and sustainable development in the Renbel province of the Solomon Islands.

Discussions delved into the multifaceted challenges posed by extraction operations in Rennell. Representatives from the Office of the Prime Minister and from other central government ministries (Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification, Ministry of Lands, Ministry of Traditional Governance, Peace and Ecclesiastical Affairs, Ministry of Infrastructure Development), indigenous rights advocates, civil society organizations, and extractive industries gathered alongside the West Rennell community to address environmental degradation, cultural preservation, and community consent processes.

Since the commencement of extractive activities in 2007, conflicts have arisen, land and environmental degradation have ensued, and cultural heritage sites have faced jeopardy. The repercussions of an oil spill near East Rennell in February 2019 and subsequent contamination crises in Kangava Bay underscored the urgent need for dialogue and collective action.

Provincial Youth Council President, Melly Teno, during the first dialogue in Rennell in February.


The dialogues, held in February and May, have yielded historic outcomes:

• Facilitating youth participation in decision-making processes regarding the land and advocating for    intergenerational representation.
• Empowering women to voice concerns and experiences regarding mining operations in Rennell and allowing them to express views on land-related matters.
• Clarifying governmental roles in mining operations and explaining community engagement processes.
• Enhancing community understanding of the extractive operation process, crucial for community informed decision-making.
• Discussing the principle of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)
• Generating actionable recommendations from participating communities.
• Fostering increased participation of women and youth in dialogue sessions.

The inclusivity of these dialogues, bringing together representatives from all parties, has paved the way for constructive engagement and shared governance.

Mary Tegavota Tribal Land Recording Officer from the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Survey, who attended the first dialogue in Rennel and Honiara, expressed, “Notably, this marks the first time that women and youth actively participated in discussions on land matters, signifying a pivotal shift towards inclusive decision-making processes.”

Dr. Francesca Marzatico, UNDP Consultant during the dialogue in May.


Nanise Saune-Qaloewai, Programme Manager at UNDP, also emphasised the transformative impact of these dialogues: "The inclusion of women and youth are showing to be crucial in the discussions for peacebuilding all around the world. The opportunity for women and youth to have a voice in the dialogues is an historical milestone, this would not have happened without the support of the West Rennell community, especially the elders. In a broader context, this historical milestone contributes to a more inclusive governance in Solomon Islands hopefully paving the way for generations to come."

These dialogues set a precedent for collaborative approaches to address complex issues surrounding extractive activities and land governance in Solomon Islands. The commitment to inclusive dialogue and participatory decision-making reflects a shared vision for sustainable peace and development in Rennell, Renbel Province and beyond. One of the main outcomes of the dialogues has been a collaborative effort undertaken by the West Rennell community in Tigoa and Honiara with the PBF Project to draft, community-led guidelines on engaging in extractive activities.

The dialogues and the community led guidelines are being developed by Dr. Francesca Marzatico, working for UNDP in the Solomon Islands.

For more information or media inquiries please contact:

Daniel C. Gonzalez, Communications Specialist, UNDP Solomon Islands Office, daniel.calderon.gonzalez@undp.org , +677 7740 740/ +34 656 565 270