Last updated: February 16, 2024

About the Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands is home to globally significant biodiversity, including some of the coral reefs less exposed to climate change. It forms part of the Coral Triangle - along with Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste. WWF works in two areas. One is the Western Seascape, which harbours a diverse array of marine habitats scattered among an island archipelago covering high-elevation cloud forests and low lying atolls with terrestrial biodiversity unique to the area. It comprises 11 islands that stretch across 350 km. The other areas is the Central Seascape which includes Central, Isabel and Malaita Provinces and their coral reef areas.

© Jürgen Freund / WWF

Soloman Islands



The Coral Triangle, which includes parts of the central and western Pacific Ocean, hosts an astonishing amount of marine life. Seventy-five percent (nearly 600 species) of the world’s coral species are found here. Over 2,000 different types of reef fish find refuge in dazzling underwater gardens, and it is an important place for tuna to spawn. Whales, dolphins, dugongs and whale sharks feed, breed and migrate in these waters. And the Coral Triangle is home to six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles.

The Western Seascape of the Solomon Islands has the second highest levels of fish species diversity after Raja Ampat in Indonesia, which led to the Coral Triangle being extended to include the Solomon Islands. The Central Seascape has been identified to contain significant coral reef species that are less exposed to climate change and that scientists have prioritized as having regenerative potential for reseeding global reefs once the stresses resulting from climate change have stabilized.

Its primary forests are some of the densest, wildest, and most ecologically significant forests on Earth. From 2002-2021, the Solomon Islands lost 130,000 hectares of humid primary forests.


The population of the Solomon Islands is largely dependent on fish as their main source of protein, which comprises almost 75% of the rural diet of coastal communities. Income earned from fishing accounts for a large part of their livelihoods. Nationally, 85% of the 700,000 population is in the subsistence economy, and sustainable food security and livelihoods from the oceans is critical. More than 80% of households engage in fishing, and aggregating fishes, which come together in big groups, likely make up at least 50% of marketed fish.

PCA model: community-led with embedded stakeholder engagement

In the Solomon Islands, the management model is community-led. The Solomon Islands National Lands and Titles Act (1996) recognizes the customary rights to land and sea of Indigenous People. Solomon Islanders are dependent on the subsistence economy and maintain traditional land practices that continue to be intrinsic to their social and economic well-being. Hence, according to entitlements, communities, tribes and clans have the primary right of ownership of land and sea. Ownership of 90% of inshore coastal regions by the Indigenous People is through the customary marine tenure systems. Rural communities maintain their rights to harvest fish and coastal marine products for income, food and livelihoods through customary marine tenure rights.

At the invitation of local communities, WWF provides technical assistance and financial support for the effective management of locally managed marine areas (LMMAs), including advice on the identification, set-up and monitoring of marine protected areas. In this role, WWF relies on strong and transparent relationships with all stakeholders, from community up to the provincial and national level of government. It is critical that the customs, culture and traditions of the people of the Western Province be understood. WWF recognizes that its support must align with the customs and traditions of the resource owners within the seascape/landscape.

WWF is invited by local communities or the chief by formal letter to visit the community and conduct basic community awareness concerning the work we do. Communities have the opportunity to learn about the project and can ask questions to clear misconceptions and address community concerns. This is also an opportunity for WWF to learn more about the community, what their challenges are, what they want to do, and learn more about their governance structure, potential conflicts and what they envision by participating in WWF projects.

WWF Coastal Communities Initiative and its 5-point plan

For coastal community-led conservation to thrive, we believe it should effectively promote socio-ecological resilience while fostering inclusivity and equity. Local initiatives must encompass various facets of coastal and marine conservation, including policy, governance, management, ecosystem protection, and community resilience. Local communities and the WWF Coastal Communities Initiative work hand in hand in 128 sites, distributed across six seascapes (Pacific, Coral Triangle, Mediterranean, Southwest Indian Ocean, Northern Indian Ocean and Latin America and the Caribbean) to make progress in these five interconnected domains, encapsulated within a comprehensive "five-point plan." These include:

  1. Self or co-management and access rights secured in national policy.

  2. Self or co-management and community governance arrangements operationalized.

  3. Management informed by community-led monitoring or local knowledge, with a focus on small-scale fisheries management.

  4. Effective ecosystem protection and habitat restoration.

  5. Community resilience enhanced through diversified, climate-resilient livelihoods.

WWF's Coastal Communities Initiative collaborates with Indigenous Peoples, local communities, regional networks, government authorities, and non-profit organizations to accelerate and scale coastal community-led conservation through a three-pronged approach: scaling out, scaling up, and scaling deep.

Significantly, this plan provides a strong framework for implementing a human rights-based approach to coastal and marine conservation. An external evaluation has recently assessed that, while a human rights-based approach is still being integrated into WWF’s interventions on the ground, early progress has been made through the Initiative on:

  • Empowering previously marginalized small-scale fishers.

  • Elevating and replicating indigenous and traditional conservation practices and techniques, especially in oral cultures.

  • Securing rights and official recognition through local co-management committees.

For more information see here 

© Jürgen Freund / WWF

Complexities and challenges

A number of threats face the Pacific, including increasing frequency and incidence of natural disasters through climate change, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and by-catch, agricultural expansion, poorly regulated and unsustainable mining, poor waste management and unsustainable coastal development.

Vulnerability to climate change

With a majority population dependent on a subsistence economy that is almost entirely reliant on the oceans for sustainable food security and livelihoods, healthy ocean ecosystems are critical. Climate change is impacting on ocean health, and remains the single greatest existential threat to the Pacific islands countries. Geographic isolation, poor economies of scale, and heavy reliance on imports of fuel and other products exacerbate these impacts.

The Solomon Islands is geopolitically strategic due to its vast natural resources and proximity to Asia. Within the political grouping of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the Solomon Islands is a strong voice advocating for the rights of the small island countries.

Access to resources

Protected areas create access to resource challenges when there are limitations such as ‘no take zones’ in place. There is a risk that the community management plans (fishery plans and land management) will inhibit access to resources for vulnerable populations. There are also concerns that some rights holders may be unaware of their rights and/or lack access to the necessary support to claim them.

Tetpare, Solomon Islands. rel= © James Morgan  / WWF

Our approach in practice

Implementing and embedding safeguards

The implementation of the Environmental and Social Safeguards Framework commenced in 2022 with a screening of the landscape and the WWF activities within it. The safeguards on Indigenous Peoples, Natural Habitats, Community Health, Safety and Security and Restriction of Access have been determined as applicable to WWF's activities in this landscape, together with the safeguards on Stakeholder Engagement and Grievance Mechanisms which are applied in all cases. The presence and significance of cultural resources will be established through a participatory mapping process with communities and if identified, the Safeguard on Cultural Resources will also be applied. This is specified in the environmental and social mitigation framework (ESMF) that has been developed and is undergoing final review. It will then be implemented and where appropriate, referenced in agreements.

Grievance mechanisms

WWF Pacific has established a grievance redress mechanism (GRM) in the areas where we work. There is an internal Standard Operating Procedure to receive, acknowledge, investigate and seek resolution for grievances. Importantly, the GRM is designed to provide equal and equitable access for women and men, as well as vulnerable or marginalized groups, including youth and people with disabilities. During the stakeholder outreach processes at the community level, women and marginalized groups are made aware of, and are encouraged to use, the GRM.

A grievance can be raised in several ways including using the community Grievance box in local communities, speaking directly to WWF staff when they visit the field, by phone or via an email to a dedicated email address. There are local language posters in different places in the community where everybody can see them, such as community halls.

Stakeholder fora

In the Solomon Islands, WWF also works with a community facilitator model, where a community nominates two of their members (a woman and a man) to be trained by WWF as community facilitators for the community. This helps to ensure that the whole community feels comfortable engaging with the community facilitators.

WWF’s stakeholder engagement processes are designed so that:

  • Information is delivered in appropriate languages and forms.

  • WWF staff who deliver the information are from, or have knowledge about, the communities in order to ensure that stakeholder engagement is done in a culturally-appropriate manner.

  • Access to remote communities is facilitated.

  • The location where the stakeholder meetings will take place is communicated to the community and that these locations are central and easy to access.

  • Gender balance is encouraged and attendance and meaningful participation of marginalized communities/people is facilitated.

Stakeholders are made aware of WWF’s commitment to social and environmental safeguards, and as well its relevant principles and policies as part of the stakeholder engagement process. They are also made aware of the grievance mechanism and how to access it should any concerns arise during project implementation.

Community participatory mapping exercises are conducted during stakeholder engagement in order to help ensure that historical claims, values, customary rights and traditional governance are captured and integrated into project activities and community plans. Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) processes are then implemented to ensure agreement from the stakeholders. Project activities will not proceed without FPIC.

WWF implements activities with communities where there may be a history of gender-based discrimination and gender-based violence. There are many organizations working on this issue with communities with which we interact. While WWF’s activities will not negatively impact women and girls, WWF takes the position that it is essential to ensure that patriarchal norms that are prevalent in many communities do not influence decision-making within the community regarding WWF’s activities and who benefits.

WWF-Pacific is also implementing a Gender Equality, Disability and Social Inclusion (GEDSI) programme that will conduct surveys and focus group discussions with women and marginalized groups to understand their specific needs. The results of these outreach exercises will be used to inform co-designed program interventions.

Empowering women through financial literacy

Indigenous Solomon Islanders are the legally recognized customary owners of coastal land and resources, particularly reefs and mangroves. Although they have sustainably managed their natural resources for hundreds of years, some individuals and communities lack the finance, tools, equipment and methods required to manage their resources for the long term while dealing with pressing everyday needs.

“WWF supports sustainable community-based fisheries management, but for this to be successful there has to be an economic component,” says Shannon Seeto, Solomon Islands Country Manager at WWF-Pacific. “We work with communities to build their capacity and resilience, with a particular focus on empowering women through microfinance initiatives and training in financial literacy and business skills. The work supports income diversification and economic resilience, and increases the number of women in natural resource management, decision-making and leadership roles.”

After attending financial literacy workshops, women have established savings clubs, which help them to manage their finances and withstand economic shocks. During the pandemic, for example, members were able to continue to meet priority needs such as buying food and paying school fees.

The savings clubs also act as a revolving loan scheme, enabling participating women to borrow money to establish small businesses. These have included community-based tourism, poultry farms and silk printing. Sustainability criteria for loans ensure any new businesses are in line with WWF’s conservation and environmental goals.

Starting from a single scheme with 40 members on the island of Gizo, savings clubs now involve more than 750 women across Western Province. Together they have saved around SI$520,000 ( about US$64,000) and withdrawn approximately SI$440,000 (about US$54,000), and established a number of sustainable businesses. WWF is now focusing on enabling access to training for local women from other communities, with the help of members from established women’s savings clubs.

Ntokou Pikounda National Park

The Silowana Complex