Britain’s Prince Charles is greeting local residents in Honiara in the Solomon Islands on Sunday. Robert Taupongi / AFP
Prince Charles called on the Solomon Islands to better protect its forests on Monday, saying embracing the “bio-economy” was vital to the Pacific nation’s future prosperity.
Environmental groups warn the Solomons’ lush forests are being stripped by logging, with fears the devastation will intensify after Honiara switched its diplomatic allegiance in September from Taiwan to resource-hungry China.
Charles did not directly address the issues in the logging sector but said the Solomons — where less than 50 per cent of the population have access to electricity — was rich in “natural capital” such as trees and fisheries.
He said this meant the Pacific island nation could lead the world in environmental sustainability, attracting ethical green investment from offshore and boosting tourism.
“It is becoming apparent that the bio-economy is going to be of enormous importance,” the first in line to the British throne said.
“Your precious forests, smartly managed, offer a rich and durable source of income as a uniquely sustainable supply of biodiversity for the new technologies that are already emerging.
“At the same time, they play an indispensible role in improving our shared resilience to climate change.”
A report from environmental campaigners Global Witness last year said forests in the Solomons were being cut down at a rate 19 times higher than sustainable levels, with most logs going to China.
It said the dense jungle that covers many of the archipelago’s coral atolls could be gone by 2036.
Charles has been outspoken on environmental issues during his trip, telling an audience in Christchurch that the world was reaching a “tipping point” on climate change.
He will return to Britain this week, where the royal family are still reeling from the outcry over Prince Andrew’s television interview in which he discussed his friendship with the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
“The Prince of Wales has been a strong advocate for the environment, conservation and sustainability for many years,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement.
Cuba's rolling museum of vintage U.S. cars may be world-renowned, but it was the island's collection of British vehicles, from Jaguars to MGs, that were on display on Tuesday for Prince Charles and his wife Camilla during their historic trip to Havana.
Prince Charles, 71, could be seen greeting people with a namaste at the yearly Prince's Trust Awards which was held on Wednesday at the London Palladium.
Polls opened on Saturday in Malaysia’s eastern Sabah state in a vote seen as a referendum for embattled Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s 7-month-old unelected government.
New Zealand reported two new coronavirus cases on Saturday -- one in managed isolation and the other detected during contact tracing, taking the overall tally to 1,475, according to the Ministry of Health.
Togolese Prime Minister Komi Selom Klassou and his government tendered their resignation on Friday, the presidency said in a statement, congratulating the Cabinet for its work in office.
South Korea said on Saturday it will request North Korea to further investigate the killing of a South Korean government official who was shot by North Korean troops after being found adrift near the rivals’ disputed sea boundary while apparently trying to defect.