MANASSEH SOGAVARE, Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, expressed gratitude that a Pacific Islander had been elected President of the General Assembly for the first time. He also expressed hope that the United Nations would upgrade its presence in his country to a full country office under the new Secretary-General. Recalling that 2015 had been a year of agreements, he said 2016 was the time for implementing the agreed goals. He said his Government had started integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into its 2016–2035 National Development Strategy.
Regarding refugees and migrants, he noted that small island developing States required more assistance to manage large displaced populations. The challenge of climate change had not been adequately addressed in the context of displacement and migration, he said, also noting with concern that not enough attention had been paid to achieving the goal of keeping the temperature increase to 1.5°C. He called on major emitters and industrial countries to treat the threat of climate change with a renewed sense of urgency since the existence of island States was at stake. Delaying action further would come at a steep cost, he warned.
He called for further action to protect biodiversity, including a new international agreement to address it, and for the creation of a world authority on oceans. The Solomon Islands welcomed the decision to convene the United Nations Conference on Oceans and Seas in 2017. In addition, he expressed grave concern about human rights violations against Melanesians in West Papua and called for Taiwan’s full participation in the work of the United Nations. He also noted the need to reform the Security Council and to ensure adequate regional representation.