Opening Remarks: Melanesia Sub-regional Private Sector Workshop, 29th August 2023

Qila Tuhanuku  l  SICCI Chair


As we are already familiar with each other, I will dispense with the formalities and join PIFS Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Esala Nayasi to say welcome to visiting guests to Solomon Islands, the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce & Industry is happy to be a partner in hosting you all here in Honiara.

Talking Points

Now down to business.   It is a given that building Climate Change resilience is absolutely critical for economies like ours in the Pacific. We don’t need to cite research or studies to substantiate this. 

There will be many technical financial information provided over the coming days so what I would like to focus on is what are we here to do?  What is the point of this forum and how can we really connect it to the private sector.

For the private sector many are at the crossroads of trying to keep businesses operational as both the impacts of COVID-19 and what is happening in Ukraine continues to affect businesses, whilst trying to work out long term viability for our business of which Climate Change resilience is very much a need to be addressed.

While there are many internal challenges in each of our countries in terms of aging infrastructure, out moded systems, complex government bureaucracy for the size of economies and a lag in technology, there is an appetite in the private sector to make their business more resilient for the future.

So, underpinning the discussions in these forums should always be a simple question - will this make it as easy as possible for businesses to adopt, to access, to change. 

I would like to highlight a few points that I believe needs to be raised.

  1. Cost and accessibility – these are challenging times for businesses the costs to commodities and to operate are ever increasing and currently show no sign of slowing. So cost and accessibility must be front and center of discussions when it comes to the private sector.
  2. Technical knowledge and know-how is a need, particularly for SMEs – not having it limits our ability to innovate in this space.
  3. Simpler and user-friendly processes – businesses always ask for this because the challenging environment currently faced is top of mind for businesses, and a simpler and user-friendly processes makes it much easier to roll out within their operations. While needing simple and easy there must be strong governance, that is critical.
  4. There are also some gaps in terms of government policy being aligned cross ministry and substantive actions on the ground – the absence of aligning does give mixed messages in terms of what government would like businesses to step up and do, and it does impact the effectiveness of private sector to be able to make changes.
  5. Needs based - listen to the private sector we are the experts when it comes to the business environment and running businesses, too often we are informed of what we need after the fact. In saying this I am happy to note our inclusion in forums like this.

I am sure that over the course of this forum many more points will be brought to the forefront that will challenge all stakeholders - I am sure that there will be some directed at businesses as well.  But I do encourage an open and honest discussion between government and businesses.  Because it is within these challenges that we need to look for the opportunities that will ensure we can build programs, projects that are truly resilient and responsive to business needs and the future that is already here – because let’s face it we are already living with climate change.  

While we may be a bit behind in responding to the realities of climate change, what gives me hope is seeing forums like this, it does indicate that the interest and drive to take things forward is there.

With that I thank you all, I very much look forward to hearing and learning from the breath and depth of experience and knowledge that have gathered for this forum and I am hopeful that we will have identify some bold ideas to take the Pacific forward.  Thank you.

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