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Athletes of the XVII Pacific Games Plant Seeds of Environmental Legacy

5 December 2023, Honiara, Solomon Islands – In a powerful display of commitment to environmental stewardship, athletes from across the Pacific participated in a tree planting activity as part of the Greening of the 2023 Pacific Games in Solomon Islands. 
The trees were planted at two Pacific Games villages at Saint Joseph’s Tenaru School and the Solomon Islands National University over the weekend. The initiative is part of the broader support from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Solomon Island’s Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM). 
It serves as a poignant reminder of Oceania's united effort against the escalating impacts of climate change as our negotiators amplify their One Pacific voice at the 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Climate Change Convention currently taking place in Dubai. 
MECCDM Supervising Permanent Secretary, Mr Karl Kuper, underlined the symbolic nature of the tree planting event, noting that athletes demonstrate stewardship not only for the games but also for the planet and the challenges posed by climate change.
"For us, the Pacific nations, our two most valuable resources are our human resources and our environment. Bringing them together through such initiatives contributes towards longer-lasting legacies," said Mr. Kuper. "It further showcases that athletes are not only sportspeople but also stewards of the environment."
He expressed the Ministry's satisfaction with the athletes coming together to plant trees and hoped that this event would continue to spotlight the country's ongoing commitment to environmental causes. “The trees planted today will stand as enduring landmarks, after the games this area will be called the Pacific Park and will remain here for generations”. 
Speaking on behalf of SPREP, Mr. Luatutu Andrea  Volentras acknowledged that the tree planting was an initiative of SPREP’s Pacific Climate Change Centre. He  emphasized the significance of involving young people in such initiatives, stating that they are the torchbearers for the next generation.
"Engaging athletes in this initiative is about creating a lasting legacy. Champion athletes serve as role models for everyone, and witnessing their active involvement in activities like this is truly inspiring. We hope these activities will imprint lasting memories in the athletes' minds, instigating a sense of responsibility for protecting the islands from sea level rise and climate change” 
“It is also a statement we are making to the world about addressing the pressing issue of climate change , right now our negotiators are fighting for us in Dubai to protect the planet from extreme weather events and climate change. Countries like the Solomon Islands have endured the brunt of climate change through prolonged droughts, cyclones, and rising sea levels”
The Solomon Islands' Golden Girl Jenly Wini who claimed the first three gold medals at the Pacific Games said: “I’m very happy to be part of this activity and it’s a pleasure to be here with other athletes from the Pacific, united as one team to help keep our environment clean and green. 
“As athletes, we need to continue to raise awareness about environmental issues such as plastic pollution and encourage people to change their behaviours, simple actions like putting the litter in the right place and reducing our plastic usage will go a long way”

The Solomon Islands hosted the 17th edition of the Pacific Games, the region’s largest and premier multi-sporting event in Honiara from 19th November – 2nd December 2023.  In March 2023, the Solomon Islands Government launched a ‘Safe and Green Games Strategy’, providing the platform to galvanise the nation to unite as one team to make Honiara a safe, and green host city.
The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) through the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology (MECDM) is providing SBD 4.8millon in assistance through various programmes and projects to support the ‘Greening of the Games’ activities.
The support is made possible through the Australian Government funded Pacific Ocean litter Project (POLP), the Pacific Climate Change Centre, Agence Française de Développement funded Committing to Sustainable Waste Actions in the Pacific (SWAP) Project, the United Nations  Environment Programme (UNEP) ISLANDS Pacific Project, the Pacific – European Union (EU) Waste Management Programme (PacWastePlus), the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) Early Warning System Pacific Small Islands Developing States (CREWS Pacific SIDS) project.