DoWH and Partners Address Urgency of Climate Adaption and Resilient Infrastructure in PNG

By: Roselyn Erehe June 24, 2024

(left to right) a representative from GGGI, CCDA Acting Managing Director Ms Debra Sungi, Mr. David Wereh, Secretary for DoWH and a representative Officer of the partners and stakeholders with the Signed MoU. Port Moresby. - Image Provided by CCDA PR

Road infrastructure in PNG has been vulnerable to climate change hazards such as extreme rainfalls, landslides, coastal erosion, storm surges and droughts have cumulative impacts on damaging and deleting the quality and state of infrastructure in PNG. 

Therefore, Papua New Guinea has recently marked a significant move towards planning and building infrastructure to withstand climate change impacts. The Department of Works and Highways DoWH will engage with stakeholders to develop climate resilient transport infrastructure contributing to PNG’s National Determined Contribution (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plan (NAP) priorities.

PNG, an island state, faces increasing climate change impacts, necessitating urgent action. The DoWH has demonstrated its commitment to climate-proofing roads and infrastructure under the NAP.

An inception workshop was held mid-June on the 11th, in Port Moresby, which is part of the Infrastructure for Resilient Island States PNG (IRIS PNG) Project that convened key stakeholders committed to enhancing climate resilience in the country’s roads and infrastructure sector.

Led by the Department of Works and Highways (DoWH) and supported by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), the workshop underscored PNG's urgent need for adaptive measures.

Secretary for DoWH, David Wereh, highlighted the severity of recent climate events. He said, just this year alone, PNG experienced damage costing the state assets of about K500 million in the last few weeks, due to continuous rain.

"This year has been the worst year. It could be the beginning of the worst still to come. We’ve experienced damages worth millions of kina in road infrastructure due to continuous heavy rains and extreme weather events. This is a growing trend and a massive challenge to address as a country.”

The IRIS PNG Project, funded at US$499,998, aims to fortify PNG’s infrastructure against climate threats over the next 24 months. It focuses on enhancing institutional and technical capacities within DoWH to develop resilient transport infrastructure by 2030.  

Mr Wereh emphasized that it is a big challenge and moving forward sharing of information and data between key agencies is vital. He further stressed the importance of collaborative efforts among agencies, "Relevant agencies must share information and data and ensure coordination is strengthened to build climate-resilient infrastructures."

Acknowledging PNG’s vulnerability as an island state, stakeholders highlighted the project’s role in aligning with PNG’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP) and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

The Climate Change Development Authority (CCDA), Acting Managing Director, Debra Sungi, underscored the pressing challenges posed by climate change on the nation's infrastructure.

She commended DoWH for leading the initiative, emphasizing its role in shifting towards climate-resilient planning practices.

"Today marks a significant milestone in our efforts to build capacity and resilience in partnership with the Department of Roads and Highways," remarked Debra Sungi in her address. She highlighted the devastating impacts of recent natural disasters, such as the landslides in Enga province, which have severely affected crucial road networks, disrupting essential services and economic activities across the region.


“The road has been one of the major hazards that has been affected and it's not only affecting the environment, it is affecting the economy of the province and for the country, and also it has affected the lives of our people” she added.

Ms Sungi stressed the need for comprehensive national policies to guide climate adaptation efforts, integrating local-level implementations to effectively mitigate environmental and economic damages. "Infrastructure remains a top priority for us, aligning with our targets to achieve National Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2030," she affirmed.

Ms Sungi emphasized the critical role of CCDA in coordinating these efforts, ensuring that infrastructure projects adhere to climate-resilient standards.

"The workshop serves as a significant platform to address the vulnerabilities within our communities and strengthen our infrastructure against climate impacts," Ms Sungi added, outlining the collaborative approach between CCDA, implementing agencies, and the Department of Roads and Highways.

She expressed gratitude to all participants for their commitment to achieving sustainable outcomes aligned with PNG's long-term vision for 2050.

The initiative is part of a broader strategy to integrate climate resilience into infrastructure development under the Connect PNG program. Ms Sungi emphasized the incorporation of resilient design standards for bridges and roads as paramount to safeguarding against future climate uncertainties.

"CCDA is set to collaborate extensively with the Department of Roads and Highways and other stakeholders to ensure our infrastructure is resilient and durable," she affirmed.

Ms Sungi reiterated CCDA's dedication to forging partnerships and driving impactful solutions that mitigate climate risks and foster sustainable development. "Together, we aim to build infrastructure that endures and thrives amidst evolving climate challenges," she concluded optimistically.

The workshop, held in collaboration with DoWH and attended by representatives from the Australian government, private sectors, NGOs, and stakeholders, aimed to chart a course towards robust infrastructure that can withstand the increasing frequency of natural disasters.

The Inception Workshop included a renewed commitment from all stakeholders to work collectively towards achieving climate-resilient infrastructure in Papua New Guinea, setting a precedent for future development initiatives.

GGGI’s Country Representative, Sakiusa Tuisolia, affirmed GGGI’s commitment to supporting PNG's journey towards sustainable and climate-resilient infrastructure.

Sakiusa Tuisolia said, “GGGI is committed to supporting PNG in its journey towards building climate-resilient infrastructure. Our collaboration aims to ensure sustainable development and enhanced resilience against climate change impacts.”

CDRI Director General, Amit Prothi, echoed this sentiment, expressing CDRI’s delight in contributing towards enhancing infrastructure resilience in PNG. Mr Prothi added, “CDRI is delighted to support the development of climate-resilient transport infrastructure in Papua New Guinea with this grant of US$499,998. We are committed to enhancing infrastructure resilience by strengthening institutional and technical capacities.”

Over the next 24 months, the IRIS PNG Project will engage with stakeholders to develop climate-resilient transport infrastructure, contributing to PNG’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and NAP priorities. A Memorandum of Understanding was established between GGGI and the Government of PNG through the DoWH to strengthen institutional capacity for climate-resilient transport infrastructure in PNG through the IRIS Project.

The workshop concluded with the establishment of a Memorandum of Understanding between GGGI and the PNG government, underscoring their joint commitment to building climate-resilient infrastructure. This initiative aims not only to mitigate current climate challenges but also to ensure PNG is better prepared for future climate impacts through robust policy frameworks and enhanced technical capabilities.

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