Climate FIRST Project: Inception Workshop and MOU Signing by 7 Provinces in PNG

By: Roselyn Erehe June 10, 2024

(From center, left to right,) Mr. Sakiusa Tuisolia, the Country Representative for GGGI, Ms Debra Sungi, Acting Managing Director for CCDA, displaying the signed MOU with the Provincial administrators & representatives from the 7 member Provinces (Enga Province signed the MOU on the first day) which are, Eastern Highlands, Manus, Milne Bay, Morobe, New Ireland and Simbu during the Climate FIRST Project, Inception Workshop (Second day).

As Papua New Guinea takes its course towards a sustainable, climate-resilient future, the Climate FIRST Project stands as a point, to the power of partnership, innovation, and collective action in tackling the defining challenge of our time.

Climate resilience and sustainable development was marked by the Climate FIRST Inception Workshop and the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing, uniting the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA), and seven provinces in PNG. The inception workshop, held from June 3rd to 4th at the Hilton Hotel, Port Moresby, served as a pivotal platform for strategic discussions and collaborative agreements aimed at supporting climate finance and resilience across the nation.

The project is implemented in partnership between the CCDA, GGGI, the Australian High Commission (AHC) on behalf of the department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Australia, and Provincial Administration of seven provinces which are Eastern Highlands, Enga, Manus, Milne Bay, Morobe, New Ireland and Simbu. The partnership and participation between organisers and stakeholders emphasized the urgency of addressing climate change's adverse impacts on PNG's rich and natural ecosystems.

The two-day event commenced with deliberative sessions aimed at making clear the project's objectives, expected outcomes, and associated risks. It was also the first opportunity to bring all stakeholders together to discuss implementation arrangements at the national and provincial level.

Key sessions on the first day encompassed comprehensive discussions on Climate FIRST's overarching goals, governance structure, stakeholder roles, and progress updates on green investment pipelines. The engagements fostered a deeper understanding among stakeholders, laying the groundwork for effective collaboration and decision-making.

The second day featured a formal inception meeting, highlighted by a momentous signing ceremony of MOUs between CCDA, GGGI, and the seven participating provinces.

Attendees included Nic Johnson, Counsellor (Enonomics), Australian High Commission and Motsy David, First Secretary, on behalf of Hon. Simo Kilepa, Minister for Environment, Conservation and Climate Change, underscoring the significance of collective action in addressing climate challenges. 

Crucial sessions on the second day included discussions on governance structures, provincial capacities, and future action plans, reinforcing the commitment of all parties to uphold transparency, accountability, and sustainable development principles.

The event drew over 50 participants from diplomatic corps, donor partners, government representatives, civil society organizations, and academia, signaling broad-based support for Climate FIRST's ambitious objectives.

During the Inception Workshop First Secretary Motsy David gave the keynote speech on behalf of Hon. Simo Kilepa MP, Minister for Environment, Conservation and Climate Change delivered the keynote speech, advocating for transformative climate action.

First Secretary Motsy David underscored the transformative potential of the Climate FIRST initiative, emphasizing its pivotal role in reshaping PNG's approach to development and resource management.

David's remarks resonated with a diverse audience of stakeholders, highlighting the project's ambitious objectives and the collective commitment required to address climate change challenges.

“Climate change is no longer a distant threat but a present reality that affects every facet of our lives. Our Communities, rich in culture and tradition, our pristine natural landscapes, and our diverse ecosystems are increasingly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of changing climate patterns. Rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and shifting agricultural conditions pose existential threats to our way of life”

 “This project is not just about responding to climate change; it is about transforming our approach to development and resource management. It is about ensuring that our economic growth does not come at the expense of our environment. It is about fostering inclusive growth that benefits all Papua New Guineans, especially those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.” He added.

David commended the visionary leadership of the Climate Change and Development Authority, Provincial Governments, Global Green Growth Institute, and the Government of Australia in spearheading the Climate FIRST initiative. He particularly lauded Australia's AUD 20 million investment in the project, emphasizing its significance in fostering bilateral cooperation to combat the impacts of climate change.

“Climate FIRST will build on the success of the initial four-year UAD 6 million DFAT funded Climate Resilient Green Growth Project (CRGG) that was implemented by GGGI between 2019 and 2023. This project which was fully completed in June 2023 was piloted in Enga, Milne Bay and New Ireland province resulting in the adoption of CRGG strategies and action plans in these provinces.”

“The project had among other results mobilized USD 24 million in climate investments which included the USD 10 million Adaptation for Small Scale Agriculture (ASSA) project and the establishment of the Credit Guarantee Corporation (CGC) with USD 14 million equity from Kumul Holdings and Bank of Papua New Guinea. This initiative will now be scaled up under Climate FIRST to include four more provinces which include Eastern Highlands, Manus, Morobe, and Chimbu bringing the total provinces under Climate FIRST to seven, which is one third of PNG's total provinces and population.” He added.

David hailed the government's unwavering commitment to partnership at all levels, emphasizing its role in advancing a greener economy and fostering resilience. He lauded the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders, citing Climate FIRST as a beacon of hope in PNG's journey towards a greener, more secure future.

The purpose of the project's inception meeting, as outlined by David, is to foster a shared understanding among stakeholders, laying a solid foundation for success. He emphasized the importance of stakeholder engagement and ownership in delivering key project components, including strengthened climate finance mechanisms and increased private sector engagement.

“I believe that your workshop from yesterday has provided all stakeholders the opportunity to discuss these projects aspects and scope in greater detail to foster a better understanding which will lead to a stronger stakeholder 'Buy-In" and ownership. This is essential for the project's success in delivering its key components including strengthened national coordinating mechanism for climate finance and investments, scaled up access to climate finance from blended financial sources including innovative financing mechanisms and increased private sector engagement, strengthened subnational CRGG policies and increased GEDSI (gender equity, disability and social inclusion) benefits.”

“As you deliberate on the Governance set up of Climate FIRST today, as you commit each other in partnership to work together, closely, to mobilize the resources we need, let us also recognize that this delivery is a collective victory in itself. It is the testament to enduring partnerships, shared vision, and unwavering dedication to a cause that transcends borders and unites us all in a common purpose.

He urged every stakeholder, including policymakers, private enterprises, local communities and international allies, to come together. “Let us forge ahead to deliver what we promised our people and environment. And that is, a greener economy for Papua New Guinea, is a step towards a more secure, prosperous, inclusive, and sustainable future for our country.”

As deliberations on Climate FIRST's governance structure continue, he extended special thanks to the Government of Australia for its steadfast commitment and acknowledged the collaboration of the Ministry and delivery partner, GGGI, in driving the project forward.

About the Climate FIRST Initiative: Australia and PNG collaborative efforts

The Climate FIRST initiative was launched jointly by the Prime Ministers of Australia, Hon. Anthony Albanese, and the PM of PNG, Hon. James Marape earlier this year, during their Annual Leader’s Dialogue in Camberra on 8 February 2024. The initiative aims to enhance PNG's access to climate finance and investments, thereby fortifying climate resilience and promoting low-carbon development. With Australia's substantial funding commitment of AUD 20 million (PGK50 million), funding for the four-year project, spanning from March 2024 to March 2028, the project is poised to catalyze transformative change across the nation.

The project's comprehensive approach, encompassing stakeholder engagement, governance reforms, and strategic investments, reflects a shared commitment to sustainable development and environmental stewardship.

In the final day of the inception workshop, Nic Johnson emphasized the collaborative efforts between Australia and PNG in tackling climate change. He underscored Australia's unwavering commitment to supporting PNG and the wider Pacific community amidst the challenges posed by climate change.

Highlighting the significance of the partnership, Jonnson reiterated Australian Prime Minister’s assertion that Australia stands in solidarity with the people of PNG, expressing a steadfast commitment to aiding the nation in its climate resilience efforts.

He commended the cooperation between PNG and Australia to take action against climate change, under the PNG-Australia Climate Change Action Plan, which was established at the ministerial level.

Adding on he said, since its inception, Australia has contributed over $100 million towards climate change mitigation and disaster resilience initiatives in PNG. These funds have been allocated to various sectors, including infrastructure, transportation, healthcare, and education, aimed at supporting PNG's capacity to withstand the impacts of climate change.

“That includes mainly in infrastructure, so looking at transport, health and education and disaster risk reduction. So we will continue to take a climate change perspective to all our infrastructure investments going forward. Overall, Australia has committed about AUD $2 billion towards climate financing in the Pacific, and that will be spent between 2020 and 2025.”

Furthermore, building upon past achievements, Jonnson unveiled the Climate FIRST initiative, designed to strengthen PNG's ability to secure international climate finance and advance its National Adaptation Plan. The initiative aims to facilitate the development of high-quality project proposals aligned with PNG's priorities in agriculture, energy, transportation, and infrastructure.

As a significant milestone, he emphasized on the crucial role of involvement of provincial administrators and leaders, in driving effective climate action.  He expressed optimism that Climate FIRST would empower communities to confront the realities of climate change head-on and access vital resources for resilience-building projects.

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