The Solomon Islands have made significant political and economic gains in the last decade, and the country’s natural resources can further contribute to economic development.
The Solomon Islands still lags behind the rest of the region in development outcomes. It is ranked 156 out of 188 countries in the 2016 UN Human Development Index. Gross domestic product per capita is low at $2,000. Deep gender inequality limits opportunities available to women, to the detriment of the economy and society more broadly. Rates of violence against women are among the highest in the world; up to 63% of women have experienced violence from an intimate partner.
Most people rely on subsistence/cash crop agriculture, and less than a quarter are in paid work. Logging has been the most significant source of government revenue over the last decade, and accounted for about 50% of the government’s export earnings in 2014. Its contribution to the economy and government revenue is expected to decline over time. Established industries include agricultural exports, palm oil and tuna.
Economic growth and human productivity will make the Solomon Islands stable in the long term. The Solomon Islands Government’s own National Development Strategy recognises this with a focus on economic growth, reducing poverty, and quality social services. Australia will retain a strategic focus on stability while increasing investments that help the economy to grow and that create wealth.
Australia is the Solomon Islands’ main development partner. Australian development assistance to the Solomon Islands, through the Solomon Islands–Australia Partnership for Development, focuses on improving health, education, water and sanitation, transport, telecommunications, law and justice, rural livelihoods and effective governance. Australia provides substantial support through bilateral development co-operation and the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
ACIAR reviews and updates its priorities for Pacific Island Countries co-operation in regular consultation with relevant government, community and private-sector stakeholders. It held forestry consultations in the Solomon Islands in March 2012 and Fiji in August 2012. ACIAR also attends regional priority-setting meetings, including those of the Regional Conference of Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Services and the Pacific Community Heads of Fisheries. These processes lead to a close alignment between ACIAR’s priorities and those of the Pacific Community (SPC).
Key research priorities across the medium term include:
- integration and sustainability of agriculture, fisheries and forestry resource management and development
- increasing resilience and reducing the effect of climate change on sustainable agriculture, fisheries and forestry
- making agriculture, fisheries and forestry value chains more competitive.