Rodrick Holness
General News

The SPREP Treaty was signed in 1992, in Apia, Samoa. Under the Treaty, the purpose of the organisation is to provide assistance to the Pacific to protect and improve the environment and to ensure sustainable development for present and future generations.

Through its work, SPREP strives to support and empower young Pacific people working to build a resilient Pacific in the face of the countless challenges it faces today.  

Mr Rodrick Holness of the Solomon Islands is the Treasurer for the Pacific Island Students Fighting Climate Change (PISFCC) and Deputy Chairperson for the Solomon Islands Climate Action Network. His work through both organisations has seen Mr Holness immersed in the climate change and environment spaces to advocate for Pacific resilience.

In 2022, he attended the 27th UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Sharm El-Shiekh, Egypt, as a representative of young Pacific people to advocate for the #EndorseTheAO campaign. A campaign supporting a proposal for an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice on the issue of climate change and human rights, a proposal spearheaded by the Government of Vanuatu, partnering countries and civil society. Mr Holness and his fellow members of PISFCC were instrumental in the adoption of the proposal in March 2023. At COP27, Mr Holness joined other Pacific youth representatives to also advocate for the 1.5 to Stay Alive campaign.

He attended the 15th Convention on Biodiversity Conference of the Parties (CBD COP15) where SPREP supported the Global Youth Biodiversity Network selected youth participants at the conference to amplify young Pacific voices. In this Q&A Mr Holness shares more on his work in advocating for the protection of the environment and climate justice.

Q: What Pacific environmental challenge do you work to address?

A: Climate change, specifically in the capacity building, community resilience and advocacy spaces. Recently I have been involved in campaigning for an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice on climate change and human rights. I also work on oceans and deep-sea bed mining in the Pacific.

Q: Having worked in partnership with SPREP, what are two key work activities or outcomes you are most proud of?

A: Firstly, I was grateful to have the support of SPREP at the UNFCCC COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, in providing a platform for the Pacific community, governments, civil societies and stakeholders to amplify Pacific voices and share key commitments towards achieving positive outcomes. A key outcome being the establishment of the Loss and Damage finance facility, which was a key win for the Pacific I was most proud of. Through the Moana Blue Pacific Pavilion, SPREP provides a home away from home for Pacific representatives at the conference which helps us collaborate, share information and network for a stronger unified One Pacific Voice. 

Secondly, I had the opportunity to engage with SPREP at the CBD COP15 in Montreal, Canada. I was stationed at the SPREP booth where I engaged in dialogue with country delegates, Pacific leaders and conference participants where I was able to expand my network. My fellow Pacific participants and I met with the Communications team where we discussed digital advocacy and support for young Pacific people to establish a Pacific chapter for the Global Youth Biodiversity Network. This was particularly a highlight for me at CBD COP15 and my engagement with SPREP.

Q: In a sentence, what does an environmentally Resilient Pacific look like to you?

A: To me, an environmentally resilient Pacific means a Pacific that regardless of the climate change impacts and natural disasters, people continue to strive, fight and advocate for climate justice.  Pacific resilience means regardless of the rising sea levels, the Pacific is not drowning but fighting. With the limited resources we have in the Pacific we continue to have a more unified voice.

Q: What advice would you give to young people working in the environment?

A: I encourage young Pacific people to be persistent in protecting our environment. You are not only doing this for yourself, but for the good of humanity and our future generations. The fate of Pacific resilience is in our hands and we as young people are the solution. The duty of care is upon us to be the guardians of our environment, our land, our oceans and importantly our home, just like our ancestors were.

Q: What message do you have for the Secretariat as we celebrate 30 Years of service to our Pacific?

A: I wish to acknowledge and share my great appreciation for the tremendous work of the Secretariat. It is a huge milestone to have come this far in building and sustaining a resilient Pacific community. I wish to acknowledge the work of SPREP, in recognising and supporting the work of young Pacific people across all key areas of environment.  As we celebrate 30 years, I’d like to congratulate and thank the hardworking SPREP staff, Governments, partners, and the people of the Pacific, for their work and passion to continue this regional institution of ours. As we embark on another year, I am optimistic and looking forward to more collaboration and activities to continue advocating and amplifying the voices of Pacific youth and people, God Bless.