Engaging with East Rennell World Heritage Stakeholders

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The main agenda of the meeting focuses on the establishment of an action plan by the respective stakeholders and through collaborative efforts towards the development of sustainable nature-based livelihoods that are compatible with World Heritage value.

A stakeholder consultation dialogue at East Rennell World Heritage Site organized by the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development (MEHRD) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Culture (UNESCO) was held last week on May 31, 2022 at the Heritage Park Conference Center.

The dialogue under the theme “Towards the development of sustainable livelihoods in East Rennell World Heritage Site” brings together key stakeholders, including representatives of the East Rennell community and those based in Honiara, government departments trustees, the provincial government, NGOs and experts.

The meeting was joined virtually by regional partners from UNESCO and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Oceania.

The main agenda of the meeting focuses on the establishment of an action plan by the respective stakeholders and through collaborative efforts towards the development of sustainable nature-based livelihoods that are compatible with World Heritage value.

East Rennell was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1998, as the first natural World Heritage Site under customary management and ownership. Since then, local communities have protected World Heritage values ​​from destructive activities (i.e. commercial logging and mining) taking place at the western end of the raised coral island.

However, due to multiple threats to its Outstanding Universal Value (including logging, invasive species and the lack of a management plan), the site was subsequently placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2013. To date, East Rennell is one of 52 sites on the World Heritage List in Danger out of 1,154 World Heritage Sites, and the only natural heritage site on the Danger List in the Pacific region.

Program Assistance Coordinator for the Solomon Islands National Commission for UNESCO, Sophie Liligeto, said in her opening remarks that she was aware of the growing frustration of local communities with few socio-economic benefits. tangible economic benefits from World Heritage designation for more than 20 years.

“Given the persistent food insecurity of local communities, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts of climate change, there is an urgent need to develop sustainable income-generating alternatives for socio-economic development, against non-solutions. short-term sustainability, including commercial logging and mining.

She highlighted that one of the recommendations made by the 2019 UNESCO/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to East Rennell was to “prioritize the development of sustainable livelihoods for local communities, recognizing the important role played by women in East Rennell, including through a development plan, and seek technical and financial support from the international community for this effort.

“This is considered essential to achieve the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) adopted by the World Heritage Committee in 2017, complementing and reinforcing ongoing efforts to remove East Rennell from the List of World Heritage in Danger by 2025”.

“Be advised that – UNESCO has worked closely with the Government of the Solomon Islands through the Solomon Islands National Commission for UNESCO and local communities through the Heritage Site Association Lake Tegano World, to facilitate dialogues to explore sustainable nature-based livelihood options in East Rennell, with support from the UNESCO/Netherlands Funds-in-Trust,” said Ms Liligeto.

Ms Liligeto from the Department of Education and Human Resources said their first step was to hold community meetings for the four villages in East Rennell last month to discuss the challenges and opportunities that exist in East Rennell and to identify potential sustainable livelihood options, which were presented at the meeting. .

Rennell Bellona Provincial Member of Parliament, Dr Tautai Kaitu’u, who was invited to attend the meeting, reaffirms his continued assistance to the East Rennell Committee and UNESCO in ensuring that activities logging or mining operations at the western end of the island do not disturb the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the site.

Also addressing the participants, UNESCO Representative for Pacific States, Ms. Nisha, highlighted the importance of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by encouraging stakeholders to be serious in their efforts to manage the site. .

Presentations were made by UNDP and GEF Small Grants Programme, Live and Learn, Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Environmental Conservation and Culture Division.

East Rennell World Heritage Site Committee Chairman Jorge Tauika also highlighted the main issues facing the site such as; tourism sector, bad roads, transport, climate change, livelihoods, education, management and food security.

The representative of the Environment and Conservation Division also revealed that he had entered into discussions to construct office space in East Rennell in conjunction with line ministries.

The dialogue sessions covered; identify challenges and opportunities, share experiences and lessons learned from other projects and develop an action plan.

The East Rennell Council of Chiefs, in their side talks, also resolves to unanimously agree to a resolution to rescind and remove the Paramount Chiefdom and replace it with a ‘Compliant Presidential Position’ to changes in the governance system adopted similar to the configuration of Bellona and West Rennell.

Meanwhile, consultations for the site to be managed under the Protected Areas Act 2010 will continue this year. Additionally, Live and Learn will continue to lead its partnership to pilot carbon trading projects.

Source: GCU

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