PNG shifts towards responsible development

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) commends the PNG Government for launching their National Strategy for Responsible Development this month.

PNG youths at the Strategy launch Photo: IUCN

The strategy strengthens the nation's current mid-term development plan and Vision 2050, the overarching framework for PNG’s development over the next 40 years, by ensuring that the government take responsible actions in their development undertakings. It will also aim to minimize over-exploitation of resources, particularly towards their globally significant fisheries and forests, and to increase ownership of their mineral and gas resources.

PNG is richly endowed with species and ecosystems diversity. Its wildlife is estimated to represent about 7% of the world's biodiversity. Together with West Papua, it is home to the largest rainforest in the Asia-Pacific region, and the third largest rainforest in the world. It is reported that about 15% of the world’s total tuna stock is found in PNG’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Speaking at the launching of the strategy in Alotau on 1 April, the principal architect of the policy shift, Minister for National Planning and Monitoring, Honourable Charles Abel pointed out that the new strategy is essentially a call for PNG to redesign its policies around their natural assets - fisheries, particularly skipjack tuna, forestry, water resources, agriculture, and mineral extraction.

Professor Misty Baloiloi, Team leader for the Strategy, states that through this strategy the government is trying to be smarter in the way it conducts its business. This means building its economic base on the strength of its natural assets which will increase in value in a changing global market place.

Taholo Kami, Regional Director of IUCN Oceania, was present at the launch, and adds that the strategy means that PNG is joining the global awareness of the need to get sustainable development on the right track.

He says that it is a significant step for the management of their natural resources and shows great leadership from the government.

"PNG can be a world leader if it can learn from the lessons and the wisdom of the past and make the right choices for the future," said Minister Abel. He pointed out that it is imperative that national policies place greater value on those assets that contribute to sustainable food and energy, water security and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Minister Abel believes that building on such assets, together with stabilized population growth rate, will give PNG the basic variables for a responsible and sustainable economy – one that can feed and energize itself and generate surplus in exports that can in turn accommodate the nation’s import needs.

Barbara Naka Thomas of The Voice, a youth development organization in PNG, also spoke at the launch and challenged the Prime Minister and present leaders to "secure our future today by creating an enabling environment for us, the next generation, to stand on to achieve our dreams and aspirations".

"The challenge is to create a pathway that is uniquely ours," said Thomas.

In 2013, IUCN signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the PNG Government through the Department of Environment and Conservation to assist the Government of PNG in realizing their goals for sustainable development and finding solutions to ensure long-term management of their natural resources.

"We will provide our support where it is needed to help PNG further its commitments under this new Strategy," says Kami.

Next steps following the launch of the National Strategy for Responsible Development include the launching of a national community engagement campaign.

For further information contact Taholo Kami,

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