Advancing Sustainable Development: A Collaborative Approach in PNG

By: PNG Business News April 02, 2024

One of the greatest challenges for the global community is to sustainably conserve our environment while attracting investors for resource development.

A pivotal moment in this ongoing endeavor unfolded with the recent visit of National Executive Director of French Development Agency (AFD) Philippe Orliange, resulting in a high-level dialogue on the design and implementation of the Country Package for Papua New Guinea.

The Country Package is a platform of coordination to ensure that dedicated resources are contributing to achieving common goals set by the partner country.

Organized by the French Embassy and European Union Delegation in PNG, the high-level dialogue gathered local and international partners. Held at APEC House in Port Moresby on March 25th, the event provided a forum for open and constructive discussions.

After the opening remarks from Minister for Environment of PNG Simo Kilepa, French Ambassador Guillaume Lemoiné and EU Delegation Charge’ d’affaires, Head of Cooperation Hans Lambrecht, provided an opportunity for the roundtable discussion, including a question-and-answer session based on themes of forest protection, nature preservation, and climate change mitigation in PNG.

According to a press release by the French Embassy, the event was aimed to present lessons learned and best practices in conservation while fostering collaborative efforts to address environment and climate challenges in PNG.

French Ambassador Guillaume Lemoiné in his opening remarks highlighted the international momentum generated, culminating in USD100-million package announcement at COP28—just four months after the visit. He emphasized the pivotal role of the European Union, serving as co-leader and primary contributor to the PNG Country Package through its FCCB program.

Ambassador Lemoiné affirmed the commitment, saying: “France, the EU and the PNG Government will support the design of a tailored coordination mechanism to allow for donors, implementing partners, NGOs and government agencies to collectively work in the same direction.”

The roundtable was described as a success with the quality of the panelists and their testimonies – Climate Change Development Authority (CCDA) Managing Director Debra  Sungi; Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) Managing Director Mickeal Bongoro ; (Department of National Planning and Monitoring) DNPM Deputy Secretary Mr Kera; Regional Director of Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Stacy Jupitor; UN Residential Coordinator Richard Howard; and Dr Hans Lambrecht; AFD Philippe Orliange.

A key point highlighted was the importance of collaborative action between the PNG government and its people. The goals of conservation and sustainable development were emphasizing the need to harness the country's natural resources and attract investment while safeguarding its ecological heritage.

The dialogue not only heralded a milestone in international cooperation but also signaled a renewed commitment to forging a sustainable path forward for PNG—one that harmonizes economic growth with environmental sustainability.

The PNG Country Package

This announcement of the Country Package is the result of an international coalition launched at COP27 in Glasgow in November 2022.

Country packages were first discussed at COP27 in Glasgow out of the forest and climate Leadership Partnership, aims to achieve international forests, biodiversity, and climate change objectives by coordinating the efforts of public, private, bilateral, multilateral, scientific and civil society players, including NGOs and philanthropies.

In 2023, Prime Minister James Marape and French President Emmanuel Macron announced on the margin of COP28 in Dubai the USD100-million commitment from the European Union, France, Australia, the Global Environment Fund, Asian Development Bank, FAO, IUCN, WCS, as well as the Seed Fund to support Papua New Guinea in achieving its objectives in biodiversity, conservation, and sustainable development.

The coalition brought together eight major forest countries: Ghana, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Indonesia, Colombia, Brazil, and Papua New Guinea, as well as lead donors, at this time France, the European Union, Norway, the Unites States, Singapore, Germany, and the United Kingdom to support the mobilization process of a holistic approach to long term, sustainable and nationally designed conservation programs.

In this context, the EU and France have extended their support to “co-lead” the process with the PNG Government to identify partners and raise funding.

EU Initiative: EU FCCB Program proves climate change and economic growth can be balanced

The EU has become the world’s largest provider for climate financing forging partnerships with a string of nations around the world to facilitate the green transition and globe resilience against the effects of climate change.

EU has invested more than Kina 2 billion in socio-economic development over the last 3 decades in PNG. But in more recent years, protection of tropical rainforests has become one of the EUs’ efforts in PNG.

The EU’s critical role of support in the livelihood for over 80% of the population has resulted in the launch of a new initiative in PNG, the Forestry Climate Change and Biodiversity (EU FCCB) Program, to prove that climate change and economic growth can go hand in hand.

EU FCCB focus on forest conservation and in creating economic opportunities connected to its targeting intervention at the national, subnational, and community levels.

EU has set several key priorities with the government to be strategic with its approach and is an on-going discussion. The new program aims to achieve its main objective and that is to protect the environment while promoting green livelihood through sustainable, inclusive and gender responsive practices.

EU FCCB program is based on 3 main pillars:

  1. Governance and institutional support involving EU’s provision of technical support at national and subnational level so that public and stakeholder participation is organized.
  2. Increase knowledge and awareness. EU FCCB will support training about the environment and sustainable development at all levels of PNG’s education system; from primary to tertiary levels as well as PNG based research in the field.
  3. Green investment and deforestation free livelihood. EU FCCB Wants to provide the right tools to communities willing to take part in protected areas and sustainable land use projects supported by private and public sector investments.

 WCS Focus Collaboration for PNG Communities: Balancing Conservation and Economic Growth

In the pursuit of enhancing the impact of conservation efforts in PNG, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is strategically focusing on the needs of local communities and exploring avenues for collaboration among donors, NGOs, and the government.

To help scale these efforts under the Country Package, there are opportunities for the PNG government and development partners to support interested communities in several ways.

One key aspect of this collaborative effort is to ensure that landowners and marine rights holders are well-informed about their rights and understand how conservation deeds and LLG laws function as legal instruments. This requires widespread education and outreach initiatives to empower local stakeholders.

Furthermore, there is a pressing need to provide training to community and local government in effective management implementation. This includes capacity building in planning, monitoring, and surveillance, as well as financial literacy training to enable them to access resources from direct access funds effectively.

Additionally, its efforts will be directed towards encouraging the broader community to become environmental managers through support for livelihoods and sustainable value chains. Partnerships with the private sector, particularly those promoting sustainable sourcing, ecotourism, and long-term investments in climate finance or biodiversity credits, are crucial. 

WCS is ready, as a delivery partner under the Country Package, to support the PNG Government and partners from France, the EU, United Nations agencies and others to collectively achieve the ambitions laid out under the Country Package.

Investment Opportunities in PNG

PNG is recognized as the third-largest rainforest globally, and with 97% of its land under the tenure of Indigenous Peoples, there are significant opportunities for investment in various sectors. However, it is crucial to prioritize negotiation and awareness-building among investors, the government, and local communities to ensure mutually beneficial outcomes.

With PNG heavily reliant on natural resources sectors like forestry, mining and agriculture, tourism and fisheries can directly benefit from sustainable management practices. PNG welcomes investors across these sectors, emphasizing the importance of aligning economic growth with environmental stewardship.

While highlighting the government's support in policy formulation and the implementation of sustainable practices in the high-level roundtable dialogue; It is crucial as emphasized for the need to increase awareness and education among landowners.

Proper investment in sustainable practices can empower communities to get maximum benefits from investments while safeguarding their natural resources for future generations.

The recent High-Level Dialogue has reiterated the importance of biodiversity, conservation, and the need to strike a balance between conservation efforts and economic development. As PNG serves as one of the last remaining buffers against climate change, preserving its rich biodiversity should be a shared global priority.

By fostering collaboration, raising awareness, and promoting sustainable practices, PNG can achieve its dual objectives of conservation and economic growth, ensuring a prosperous and resilient future for its communities.

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