Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare opened the Western Provincial Dialogue in Gizo yesterday, emphasising the importance of peace to development and vice-versa.
The dialogue is part of the ‘Supporting Inclusive and Peaceful Transition in Solomon Islands Project’ launched by the Prime Minister in July last year.
The project targets the three provinces that were heavily affected by the ethnic tension- Western, Guadalcanal and Malaita Provinces. Provincial Dialogues for Guadalcanal and Malaita Provinces were convened in November last year.
The project is a partnership between the United Nations Development Programme, Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace, Ministry of Women, Youth, and Children Affairs and the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
The Western Provincial Dialogue, like other two provincial dialogues, provides an opportunity and space for leaders and people of the province to examine and discuss with the national government and stakeholders the nexus between security, sustainable and environmentally-friendly economic development initiatives and sustainable peace.
“Peace is important for development and vice-versa. Without peace, it will be hard for us to achieve our development potential and sustain an optimal economic growth rate over time.
“Peace can be equated with the word Stability. When we have stability, there is a good degree of certainty and predictability about the future. These are, in effect, elements that will increase people’s confidence in an economy and thereby, willing to expand or invest their labour and capital to generate more outputs, contributing therewith to economic development.
“Simply put, amongst other things, peace is about proposed interventions for promoting good governance and institutional strengthening in attempts to avoid the proliferation of violent conflict, which include, but are not limited to market and economic reforms, judicial reforms, anti-corruption interventions, designs of policies for poverty reduction and electoral reforms,” the Prime Minister said in his keynote address.
He stressed that the socio-economic and political challenges faced by the country cannot be dealt with accordingly, if home-grown solutions are not devised to address them.
“There is a need for the country to look back in history to ascertain what we have done and where we have gone wrong, then take into account the present,” the Prime Minister said. “In this way, we can make informed decisions about our future.”
He told the dialogue participants to make use of their two-day meeting, saying it is an opportunity for them and relevant stakeholders to examine and discuss the connections between security, sustainable peace and economic development initiatives that are sustainable and environmentally-friendly.
Prime Minister Sogavare then urged the Western Provincial Government to ensure there is a strong follow up after the dialogue so that the collective commitments and consensus reached will be implemented to improve the welfare of its people.
He reiterated the Democratic Coalition for Change Government’s commitment to working closely with the Western Provincial Government to address its development aspirations.
Hon Sam Maneka, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Women, Youth and Children Affairs, Mrs Ethel Sigimanu, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Mr Moses Tepai, Policy Secretary Fundamental Reforms in the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Mr Warren Paia and Technical Adviser in the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Mr Moses Saitala were present at the opening ceremony and are participating in the dialogue.
UNDP Country Manager, Ms Azusa Kubota, British High Commissioner, His Excellency David Ward, New Zealand High Commissioner, His Excellency Don Higgins and First Secretary of the Australian High Commission, Ms Fiona Hoggart were also present at the opening ceremony and are representing their respective institutions/governments during the dialogue.