Australia-Pacific Connections for a Digital Future

Pacific Connect Network Dialogue

22-23 November 2018, Honiara, Solomon Islands

Communiqué / Call to Action

1. We, the participants of the Pacific Connect Network Dialogue, met in Honiara, Solomon Islands on Thursday, 22 November and Friday, 23 November 2018 at the invitation of the International Centre for Democratic Partnerships (ICDP). The Dialogue was co-facilitated by Dr Ian Watt AC, Mr Peter Fritz AM and Mr Peter Kenilorea Jnr and supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

2. We thank ICDP for organising the Dialogue with support from the Australian High Commission in the Solomon Islands and thank Dr Luke Forau, Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Solomon Islands, and Haggai Arumae, Director Markets, Competition and Finance, Telecommunications Commission Solomon Islands, for their informative presentations. We thank Mr Peter Kenilorea Jnr, Dr Ian Watt AC, and Mr Peter Fritz AM for facilitating the Dialogue discussions.

3. We congratulate the Dialogue organisers on assembling a diverse group of participants with expertise across a range of sectors, including education administration and delivery, digital transformation, business management, ICT development and implementation, social enterprise, and stakeholder engagement. We thank all the participants for their constructive contributions to the Dialogue and their willingness to continue their engagement and to collaborate on projects emanating from the event.

4. We welcome Australia’s interest in forging stronger and more enduring strategic relationships with Pacific Island nations and see the planned Pacific Connect Dialogues as an opportunity for current and emerging Solomon Islander and Australian leaders to extend their networks, work on solutions to common challenges through the second track process and,
ultimately, develop long-term relationships through shared experiences.

5. The Dialogue’s focus on education and digital transformation aligns with goals set out in several Pacific forums, and we believe the announcement of new undersea cables and infrastructure spending in the region, supported by the Australian Government, and rapid development of online education around Australia and the rest of the world, makes this an ideal time to explore opportunities to enhance education in the Solomon Islands.

6. We believe that new projects provided by Dialogue participants and others can further enrich the variety of learning delivery available to Solomon Island citizens, particularly those in rural locations. These projects will also provide a basis for future growth in the Solomon Islands.

7. We recognise existing strengths in the Solomon Islands, including a strong sense of community, dedicated teachers, a ‘thirst for knowledge in young people’, and good support networks and role models. We are therefore determined to create and support existing avenues which help Solomon Island citizens to access sustainable learning opportunities from early childhood to adults.

8. We are confident that education is the key to economic and social progress in the Solomon Islands, as it expands the capacity of the country’s greatest resource – its people. While we acknowledge that a lack of resources including energy and connectivity can hamper access to education, we are confident that increased infrastructure provision will provide strong platforms to take advantage of digital innovation.

9. We acknowledge that we must learn from past failures and apply a holistic approach to delivering new projects and activities.

10. We are confident that cooperation with existing institutions, many of which are working in the digital and education space, would leverage current resources and encourage their support.

11. We hope that pooling our expertise, experience and passion for change will help drive transformative change in Solomon Island education. We will call on our shared contacts to investigate the creation, adoption or adaption of our ideas. These include developing proposals to access funding for several
projects, for example: exploring the concept ‘every building is a classroom’; and utilising existing database technology to map education needs across the Solomon Islands.

12. We agree to connect Solomon Islands youth leaders, women and associated organisations with opportunities to broaden their networks, provide avenues for project collaboration, and to access mentoring and professional development, including with the Global Shapers Program (World Economic Forum), the Asia-Pacific Mentoring Council and various knowledge exchange programs.

13. We look forward to continuing our collaboration through further meetings and ICDP’s dedicated Slack forum for the Pacific Connect Community. We will continue to consider a range of practical projects, including developing a project programme to assist with design and to supplement ideas.

14. We see the meeting of the Pacific Connect Network Dialogue group in the Solomon Islands as the first step to achieving tangible outcomes for the benefit of Solomon Island citizens and communities, as well as creating personal bonds, deepening trust and creating enduring relationships in the future.

15. We believe the Dialogue substantially met our expectations in terms of topics of importance to the Pacific, providing a forum for open and honest discussion, expanding our networks and contacts and as an enabler for developing joint tangible projects to take forward. This was already apparent in the dialogue and afterwards.

16. We appreciate an opportunity to participate in a planned Second Pacific Connect Forum, to be held in Sydney on 19 September 2019, and look forward to receiving invitations along with all Dialogue participants across
the Pacific.