Protecting the ocean for future generations in the Solomon Islands

By Caleb Pollard and Milica Prokic

This blog speaks to the importance of the local ocean knowledge upheld and promoted by the youth in the Solomon Islands – the country under whose custodianship is the vast expanse of the ocean space, and home to the communities who bear the brunt of the pollution, over-exploitation of ocean resources and climate change. The Ocean Explorers, a unique youth-led and community- based education initiative under the One Ocean Hub, seeks to tackle those challenges for the future of their islands and the ocean.

‘But we all know that only those who make the ocean their home and love it, can really claim it as their own. Conquerors come, conquerors go, the ocean remains, mother only to her children. This mother has a big heart though; she adopts anyone who loves her.’Epeli Hau’ofa

In his seminal essay Epeli Hau’ofa defined Oceania as ‘Our Sea of Islands’ belonging to all the Pacific Island peoples, whose bonds with the ocean are shaped from birth and through generations, through the love and the habitual, customary, and embodied knowledge of the ocean. The deep-rooted understanding that the ocean is their home just as much as the islands are, is essential to the Oceania islanders’ livelihoods, wellbeing, culture and cultural heritage, and vibrant contemporary creative practices.

Solomon Islands in Oceania is an archipelago state located in the western South Pacific, rich in both in culture and biodiversity. Some parts of the islands have been inhabited by humans since Pleistocene (28000-30000 years BC), even before sea-level rise gave the islands their current shape, which was some 4000 BC. Since then, islands have been continuously inhabited by the communities and cultures to whom the ocean embodies a fundamental foundation.

The 900 islands that make the Solomon Islands spreads over 29,000km ², however the extent of the ocean space under the country’s custodianship is a vast expanse encompassing 361,000 sqkm. This means that about 98% of the Solomon islands is actually the ocean.

However, the ocean within (and beyond) the Solomon Islands faces significant pressures from climate change, industrialisation, overdevelopment and globalisation, all of which represent serious threats to both the spiritual and physical wellbeing of the islanders. These threats have impacts on the rich biodiversity of the islands, on their culture and cultural heritage, and on the lives and livelihoods of the communities, including the future generations of the islanders. This is why in February 2021 they have started a unique educational program to tackle these challenges.

Recognising education of children and youth as key to the healthy and prosperous future of the ocean, Pama Beth Siale and Caleb Pollard developed the ‘Ocean Explorers: an educational program’ implemented by Pacific Island Students Fighting Climate Change (PISFCC). 

Co-founder Caleb Pollard, a graduate from the University of the South Pacific who currently studies at University of Melbourne (Australia), pursuing his passion for Education and Sustainability, sees the knowledge of their ocean is the most powerful way to empower children and youth:

“When children have access to quality education, they are made aware of changes impacting their island and learn strategies for its protection. To equip themselves with the knowledge they need to tackle the challenges that face their communities, the youth and children from the Solomon Islands have ignited this unique educational programme”.

Caleb explained why the Ocean Explorers program is unique: it uses the context of island life, from the customs, culture and art to everyday life, to explore sustainability in relation to current global challenges. The programme brings together learning from various disciplines including natural sciences, engineering, arts and social sciences to change the narrative of education in the Solomon Islands (and beyond). 


Caleb shared some of the positive impacts of the programme, which has influenced and shaped the classrooms of participant schools: Telina Primary School, Patukae School and Harvest Academy in the Solomon Islands.

To engage the students with some themes of the program such as plastic pollution, they incorporated play-based learning and visits to local beaches. They did this to move beyond the confines of the current curriculum to engage student’s critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving capacities.

The Ocean Explorers see empowering young people to save their islands as an urgent task. The rich biodiversity of the Solomon Islands is under the threat shared with the entire ocean, as Caleb expressed:

“Ocean plastic pollution is detrimentally impacting marine biodiversity of the Solomon Islands. If action is not taken, the environment will be destroyed. We cannot separate the interconnectedness that is weaved between humans and the environment. The ocean is what sustains and gives life to the people. Therefore we have a duty to ensure future generations are taught to protect the ocean.”

Alongside the play-based and art based activities for the students, the PISFCC developed workbooks and resources for teachers and students, covering the issue of plastic pollution in their communities and waters. This knowledge, they hope, will position the future generations as local ocean ambassadors of protecting their islands with the knowledge of our ocean. Things have already started shifting within the community, Caleb noted:

“This program empowered the community as a whole. So, the students learning about the issue, caused the leaders in the community to respond to this issue by tackling the problem of plastics on their island.”

Related SDGs:

  • Quality education
  • Clean water and sanitation
  • Reduced inequality
  • Climate action
  • Life below water