In an effort to examine land-related issues in Malaita Province and potential solutions, nearly three hundred representatives from across the province, including chiefs, women and youth, are gathered in Auki for a land reform summit.
The difficulty of registering customary land is considered a threat to sustainable peace and development in Malaita, as about 90 percent of land acquisitions for government purposes are not completed.
The three-day land summit now underway in Auki will consider how land in the province can be allocated for development and managed to ensure that communal ownership of customary land is recognized.
Alienated land, resettlement of Malaitans affected by climate change and attracting foreign investment are key topics.
Peter Ramohia, Malaita Province Premier, said the summit is a step towards addressing longstanding land issues in the province.
He says the introduced law of land alienation continues to permanently take away customary land, and such dispossession remains a fundamental cause for land dispute and disagreement, disunity and corruption in the country.
He adds the country must fix these fundamental causes saying, he looks forward to a detailed and fruitful discussion.
Meanwhile, UNDP says the land summit, organized by the Malaita Provincial Government and the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace in partnership with the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund project, is expected to culminate in a communique that outlines resolutions on various land issues.
The communique will be presented to the provincial government for consideration by the Malaita Provincial Assembly and National Members of Parliament for Malaita.
A draft project proposal outlining a strategy and timeframe for implementing resolutions will follow.
In her remarks at yesterday’s opening, UNDP Solomon Islands Country Manager Azusa Kubota emphasized the importance of land in accelerating economic growth.
She said history has it that peace cannot be achieved without development adding, development cannot be attained without peace.
Ms Kubota encouraged participants to tackle probing questions to help the province and the country overall progress based on collective interests.
By: Rickson Bau.