Honiara, Solomon Islands, 25 November – A groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Solomon Islands Meteorological Services (SIMS) Forecasting Unit building was held by the UN Development Programme, in partnership with the Australian Government and the Solomon Islands Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM) and Tropic Group Builders (TGB).
The new SIMS building is a 2 million Solomon Islands Dollar initiative implemented by the UNDP Integrated Disaster Risk Management (IDRM) Project funded by the Australian Government. It will play a significant role in enhancing early warning system of Solomon Islands and will effectively provide weather and marine weather forecasting and timely and accurate information with regard to cyclones, floods, other severe weather warnings, earthquakes, and tsunamis.
The building will occupy an area of 128 square meters and will consist of a reception area, forecasting office space, an executive office, a conference room, a lounge area, a kitchen, and an extension for the ablution block. The building is designed to be inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities.
“This week was a sharp reminder of why work on early warning and disaster preparedness is so critically important’, said Ms Sally-Anne Vincent, Acting High Commissioner at the Australian High Commission. “This building will assist the Solomon Islands Government and stakeholders to receive accurate and up-to-date weather observations and timely issuance of disaster early warning messages”
“This work is also important as the impacts of climate change continue. Work in climate resilience in Australia and the Pacific is a priority for the Australian Government,” said Ms Vincent.
“In COP27, Australian reaffirmed that we are a constructive, positive, and willing climate collaborator. We look forward to the opening of this building in the coming months and will continue to partner with the Solomon Islands Government in this important work,” Ms Vincent concluded.
Following the same sentiment, Honorable Stanley Sofu, Minister for Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology, said “This new building will act as an Early Warning Centre for 24-hour ocean and weather observation, monitoring and forecasting of early warnings to save lives and better preparedness”.
“It was globally recognized and locally experienced that weather and water extremes are frequently occurring around the world, including Solomon Islands,” added the Honorable Sofu. “We are happy to witness the beginning of the construction of this building which will act as an early warning center for most of the national hazards including tropical cyclone.”
Hon Sofu further thanked the Australian Government and UNDP for their continuous support in enhancing SIMS’ capacity to ensure all Solomon Islanders received early warnings efficiently on timely manner.
“As experienced recently with the 7.0 magnitude earthquake, Geological hazards also continue to affect us. This building is expected to withstand disaster and continue provide the much-needed early warnings in such difficult times.”
Mr Berdi Berdiyev, UNDP Deputy Representative and Country Manager for Solomon Islands stressed the importance of this initiative to “strengthen the capabilities of the SIMS through the construction of this new Forecasting unit building.”
Reflecting on the recent earthquake in south Guadalcanal, he noted that this is a “reminder of the need to invest in technical agencies such as SIMS and the Geological Survey Division of the Ministry of Mines Energy and Rural Electrification.”
The SIMS initiative is part of the Integrated Approach to Disaster Risk Management (IDRM) project which is implemented by UNDP Solomon Islands in partnership with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) and Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM) with financial support from the Australian Government.