The Solomon Islands are an archipelago located in the Melanesian region of the Pacific, south-east of Papua New Guinea. The Archipelago consists of 992 small islands that cover approximately 27,000 square kilometers (km2), and a sea area of 1.35 million km2 dispersed between 7 and 12 degrees south of the equator and 156 and 170 degrees longitude. Considered the “Amazon of the Seas”, the country’s expansive area covers a unique geographical environment of atolls, mountains, and salt-water lagoons, and has one of the world’s richest marine diversity, including 75% of the known coral species, more than 30% of the world’s coral reefs, 40% of the coral reef species, and the largest mangrove forest in the world . Of the 523,170 inhabitants, most live in rural areas (~80%) , in contrast to the rest of East Asia and the Pacific (with rural populations of 60%). Agriculture, forestry, and fishing are the mainstay of the economy, with agriculture contributing nearly 36% of GDP in 2006. Other important revenue activities in the Solomon Islands include timber, fish, copra , cocoa, and palm oil, which together with agriculture account for between 80-90% of the country’s revenue.
Land degradation and deforestation is a serious concern in the Solomon Islands; less than 1% of the country’s heavily forested ecosystems are protected, and logging is a critical source of revenue for the country, leading to significant deforestation rates that by 2015 could exhaust the country’s forest resources with attendant impacts of loss of biodiversity, rural employment, foreign earnings, and government revenue.
The Solomon Islands, like all Small Island Developing States (SIDS), have been identified as one of the most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. This vulnerability designation is in large part due to the fact that the majority of the population lives within 1.5 km of the coastline, rendering a considerable portion of the country’s economy, infrastructure, and livelihoods vulnerable to changes in climate. In addition, high poverty rates (22.4% in 2008), excessive dependence on foreign aid, and remoteness make the Solomon Islands particularly vulnerable to climate variability and change.
Selected Indicators for Impacts and Vulnerabilities