Solomon Islands Dialogue Kick-starts Positive Discussion and Projects

Sixteen Solomon Islanders and Australians recently convened in Honiara from 22-23 November for a Pacific Connect Network Dialogue. The purpose of the event was to discuss how improved digital connectivity in the Solomon Islands can enable a greater choice of educational opportunities, and for participants to meet and expand their networks.

The participants came from a diverse range of industries, including education, law, finance, IT, business and agriculture, which enabled creative and constructive collaboration and input on a range of ideas and potential projects. When you have to interrupt deep discussion to strongly urge participants to go to morning tea after a session is finished, you know that the energy, enthusiasm and interest are high.

The Dialogue was co-facilitated by Dr Ian Watt AC, Mr Peter Fritz AM and Mr Peter Kenilorea Jnr who assisted participants to identify a number of projects under the broad theme of digital connectivity and education. Some of these projects will be developed to access specific funding: for example, to explore the concept ‘every building is a classroom’ and utilise existing database technology to map education needs across the Solomon Islands. Other projects include exploring avenues to implement financial literacy training, and empowerment of women/farmers in business.

Participants also agreed 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.

One of the participants provided the following feedback after the Dialogue: “Sincere thanks for accepting and giving me such an opportunity to actually meet with other like-minded Solomon Islanders, whose desires is to support our education services moving forward into the future esp. in terms of the digital systems.” And another said: “It was my pleasure to be involved in what I see is a very valuable vehicle for even closer cooperation with Australia.”

Since the conclusion of the Dialogue, there has been further collaboration and information exchange on ICDP’s Pacific Connect Network Slack site, and other key people from the participants’ networks have been invited to contribute and share information relating to the Dialogue projects. The Dialogue atmosphere and post-Dialogue activity represents the very essence of Pacific Connect – putting the ‘right’ people in the room to connect, work on common issues and develop long-term, enduring relationships through shared experiences. The advantage of this approach is that it involves the development of tangible projects that are designed to benefit Pacific Island individuals, organisations and communities, ultimately contributing to economic development in Pacific Island countries.

ICDP also took the opportunity to convene a short workshop after the Dialogue with current leaders in Solomon Islands and the Australian participants to lay the groundwork for Pacific Connect activities into the future. Potential future topics for another Dialogue in 2019 in the Solomon Islands included: assisting with development of an IT strategy to build the IT industry; establishing an innovation ecosystem to support Women in Business and young entrepreneurs; and using technology to optimise freight and logistics.

ICDP would like to take the opportunity to thank all participants and facilitators who attended the Dialogue and the Workshop. The energy, enthusiasm and calibre of participants was evident from the new networks and friendships created, and the discussions and potential projects identified to take forward. It was a pleasure to observe and take part in such positive and action-oriented forums.

Tina Briggs

Tina Briggs

Program Manager

Tina Briggs is the program manager for the International Centre for Democratic Partnerships. She has extensive experience in project management across government, private, and not for profit sectors and has worked in international development with the Kenyan and Botswanan Red Cross.