Newsletter May 2021

World Environment Day 2021 "Protecting Nature in a Climate Emergency"

Join us! Papua New Guinea's first National Protected Areas Forum 2-3 June 2021 & National Environment & Climate Emergency Summit 4 June - Live on facebook @UNDPinPNG & @CEPApng #EcosystemRestoration #GenerationRestoration

Papua New Guinea’s 1st National Protected Areas Forum, 2-3 June - and National Environment & Climate Change Emergency Summit, 4 June - to launch 2021 World Environment Day. Image: Tree kangaroos, YUS Conservation Area, Morobe Province. Photo: UNDP Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea forests are recognized as one of the most significant areas of intact tropical rain forest in the world, and often referred to as the ‘lung’ of Asia and the Pacific. It is most significant for its role in absorbing and storing greenhouse gases, regulating regional weather patterns, and host to a staggering 7% of the world’s biodiversity that benefits the entire planet.

Papua New Guinea’s first National Protected Areas Forum (2-3 June 2021), followed by the National Environment & Climate Emergency Summit (4 June) – will be livestreamed on Facebook pages @UNDPinpng @CEPApng - from its venue at Hilton Conference Center, Port Moresby. Both events are part of a global effort to highlight biodiversity and climate action as the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration kicks off on this World Environment Day.

The aim of the National Protected Areas Forum is to fulfill mandates and strengthen policies to protect the country’s abundant natural assets into the future to benefit all life and future generations. Led by the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the forum will enable protected area practitioners, researchers, academics, private sector, donors, and local communities who support the country’s protected area network to share their experiences, insights and lessons learnt.

Environment and climate change

On 4 June, the Minister for Environment, Conservation and Climate Change, supported by UNDP, will host a high-level Environment and Climate Emergency Summit. This landmark event will discuss PNG’s response to the global climate emergency and commitments towards the UN Biodiversity and Climate Convention Conferences of the Parties scheduled later this year.

National initiatives that directly address biodiversity protection and resilience to the impacts of climate change will also be launched at the summit. High level participants, including the Prime Minister, international dignitaries, government, private sector, civil society and other partners will be invited to consolidate national and international partnerships to build a platform for climate action and financing.

The summit will focus on climate change efforts to progress the 30 climate actions by 2030 outlined in the Papua New Guinea SDG 13 Climate Change Roadmap – the call to action guided by Papua New Guinea’s Enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to mitigate the impacts of climate change in the Pacific region and globally.

Increasing Protected Areas

UNDP Papua New Guinea is implementing a national initiative that strengthens the management and financing of protected areas. Supporting Government and local communities to expand the number and size of Wildlife Management Areas and Community Conserved Areas, the project works to reverse decline of wildlife species and degradation of natural ecosystems vital to the country and local livelihoods.

In the last five years, UNDP with the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) and other key partners, has supported the protection of nearly 270,000 hectares of land, such as the YUS Conservation Area in Morobe Province, named after the Yopno, Uruwa, and Som Rivers that sustain fifty remote villages in the region.

Other conservation and protection initiatives by UNDP include the Varirata National Park in Central Province and Torricelli Mountain Range Conservation Area, a stunning and ecologically significant mountain range in Sandaun Province of north-western Papua New Guinea. The Torricelli Mountain Range is home to 50% of all Papua New Guinea’s bird species, 65% of frogs and reptiles, and 40% of mammal species of which four are critically endangered.

“With three bird species also endangered, this rich biodiversity needs to be protected. It is not about trees or development, as humanity can only thrive if we protect and conserve the natural resources and biodiversity we ultimately depend on,” explains UNDP Resident Representative in Papua New Guinea, Mr. Dirk Wagener.

“UNDP will support conservation and protection efforts of over 2.25 million hectares over the next five years, including Mt. Wilhelm National Park, Kimbe Bay, and Sepik Wetlands.”

UNDP’s work also supports value-adding for economic activities, such as sustainable agro-ecology and fisheries management, in a way that enhances the protection of high-value conservation areas while supporting livelihoods. This increases food security and income generation for rural and traditional communities, particularly women.

World Environment Day is also the launch of the United Nations Decade of Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030, that will bring the world together to reverse the damage to natural ecosystems.

UNDP & Japan support Economic Development in Bougainville

Ambassador of Japan to Papua New Guinea, H.E. Mr Kuniyuki Nakahara – with UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Dirk Wagener at launch of the new project. Photo: Clive Hawigen | UNDP in Papua New Guinea.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Papua New Guinea together, with the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government, this month launched a US$ 2.8 million Sustaining Peace through Economic Empowerment Project in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

The project supports the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement toward economic growth and development. Funded by the Government of Japan, the Sustaining Peace through Economic Empowerment Project is designed to support the ongoing Bougainville peace building process for political and economic progress.

This project also will support the establishment of innovation centers that create opportunities for entrepreneurs, business development, and life skills. It will also provide independent and neutral support to the two governments in the implementation of the post referendum process. The project is part of UNDP's Programme of Support to Bougainville that comprises several components and donors.

The Ambassador of Japan to Papua New Guinea, H.E. Mr Kuniyuki Nakahara said it was his great pleasure to sign the agreement with UNDP in providing finance for the project. “The project funding agreement we signed today will contribute not only to the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement but also the economic development of the Autonomous Region, the most needed element for the people’s endeavour as has been stressed by Prime Minister Marape and President Toroama.

"I am convinced that the Japanese people's desire to help the development of Bougainville will reach the people of Bougainville through this project.”

Ambassador Nakahara said Japan also supported the referendum which was successfully conducted in 2019 by providing necessary materials including printing presses that were also used to the fullest at the last year's regional elections.

UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Dirk Wagener said at the May 28 signing ceremony that the assistance from the Government of Japan will stimulate opportunities for investment and jobs, particularly for youth and women.

“The Project will support the construction of infrastructure such as the establishment of Innovation Hubs equipped with conference facilities, digital technology labs and tutorial rooms to increase computer literacy and digital competencies of youth, men and women in Bougainville,” said Mr. Wagener.

UNDP supports the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, and its Post-Referendum process, through a comprehensive programme of support funded by the Governments of Germany, Ireland, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. The programme also receives substantive funding from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund. With the signature of the funding agreement, the programme is now supported by the Government of Japan as its largest donor.


Financing a Blue Economy in Papua New Guinea

'Blue bonds' can provide sustainable opportunities and alternatives while protecting marine resources

Most opportunities are under explored and financing the development of the blue economy will be a challenge. Photo: UNDP in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea’s marine environment is vast and diverse, covering approximately 1.6 million square kilometers. It lies at the heart of the Coral Triangle, with the highest coral diversity in the world. Papua New Guinea's abundant ocean resources contain significant potential to catalyse new economic opportunities for nearly ten percent of the population that live within one kilometer of the sea.

Yet climate change, unsustainable fisheries activities, and an increase of marine and land-based pollution is resulting in the rapid decline of ocean resources. Destructive fishing methods are leading to significant loss of coastal fisheries and marine biodiversity. Climate change and unsustainable water extraction contribute to global sea level rise, increased freshwater salinity, and loss of valuable marine life further threatening Papua New Guinea’s coastal and islander communities.

Coastal populations are growing rapidly, placing pressure on coastal and marine resources which are essential for income, food, medicines, cultural values, and physical protection from severe weather. Less than one percent of Papua New Guinea’s marine areas are under formal protection, and effectively planning and managing how their ocean spaces are utilised is critical.

The Government of Papua New Guinea increasingly recognises the importance of protecting and conserving its marine ecosystems, which is reflected in PNG’s key national development strategies - including its “Vision 2050”, the Medium-term Development Plan III (2018-2022), the National Protected Areas Policy and most recently the National Oceans Policy adopted in 2020.

Significant challenges remain. Most opportunities are underexplored and financing the development of the blue economy will be a challenge. Financing needs are high, and domestic resources combined with development aid will not be sufficient to meet the scale of capital investments required to develop the blue economy in an inclusive and sustainable manner.

Recent years have seen an increase in financing instruments that support economic activities that generate both financial and environmental returns. These instruments help catalyse a new blue economy, and crowd in private impact finance into a new sector with significant growth potential. These include coral finance, blue bonds, blue themed debt and equity funds, and climate insurance products.

UNDP is investigating whether a blue bond provides an opportunity to support Papua New Guinea to stimulate the growth of its new blue economy and significantly contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The assessment will determine whether a blue bond is viable in Papua New Guinea, under which specific conditions, and outline a possible pipeline of initiatives. This work complements existing UNDP initiatives around the blue economy, including the design of a Blue Economy Enterprise Incubation Facility to accelerate sustainable livelihoods opportunities linked to the marine environment in Papua New Guinea.

To achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, current development finance flows alone will not cover the US$ 3.3-4.5 trillion per year that needs to be mobilized. Unlocking innovative financing is essential toward realising the SDGs and will be an important catalyst in building Papua New Guinea’s blue economy.

Today’s complex challenges require the partnership of government, private sector, and civil society to make sure we leave a better planet for future generations.

Read more on UNDP’s work on SDG finance and examples from other countries.


Women are rising!

Papua New Guinea's historic May inquiry into Gender-based Violence has attracted global interest. Ahead of public hearings, UNDP's Ms Julie Bukikun spoke to regional media on the increasing rates of violence against women in the country and legislative changes to reserve seats for women in Parliament.

SBS World News (Watch)

SBS World News reports that introducing a Gender quota system has been credited for lifting female representation in parliament throughout the world.

As Australia now also debates quotas for women in parliament - SBS looks to the Pacific region where island nations - including Papua New Guinea, are making legislative changes to reserve seats for women and explore key issues that impede women leaders, including gender-based violence (GBV).

“We do have a high rate of GBV in Papua New Guinea," said Ms Julie Bukikun, the Assistant Resident Representative for UNDP in Port Moresby. "Women face a big barrier in politics. It’s not a level playing field, from the culture to high cost of campaigns - to security”.

ABC Radio Australia (Listen)

Ms Bukikun also spoke with ABC Australia 's Pacific Beat on the increasing rates of gender-based violence cases in Papua New Guinea. She joined with Hon. Charles Abel, Member of Parliament for Alotau, on ABC Radio to discuss the country’s first Parliamentary Inquiry into GBV.

The report highlights the importance of women’s voices and representations in parliament, and a plan for five reserved seats for women in time for the upcoming 2022 national election. “The answer may lie in getting more women into politics,” Ms Bukikun said.

The inquiry and public hearings held 24-25 May was hosted by the PNG Special Parliamentary Committee on Gender-Based Violence, supported by the United Nations Development Programme and the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative.


Development's biggest challenge

2020 was more than a year of tragedy. It was also the moment when people everywhere demonstrated what is possible when humanity strives to be the best version of itself, even in the face of complexity and deep uncertainty. And in the pages that follow, I invite you to explore what I saw in 2020: a UNDP, working hard as part of the UN family, to be the very best version of itself.

This UNDP Annual Report takes a look at the results we achieved with countries and communities through 12 intense months. It considers the role we played as the technical lead of the UN’s socio-economic response to the COVID-19 crisis, providing in-country analysis to help 144 countries better understand what action to take, deploying nearly US$1 billion to over 170 countries and territories, helping government and health systems to function, protecting jobs and livelihoods and rapidly expanding social protection.

It takes a look at how we played this role, pushing the boundaries of how UNDP thinks, delivers, invests and manages. It illustrates how #NextGenUNDP institutional and financial investments – such as the People for 2030 strategy, the UNDP Digital Strategy, the Global Policy Network, the Accelerator Labs Network and the creation of the Crisis Bureau – made it possible to offer a more coherent, rapid response.

The report features UNDP’s global ideas and research on building forward better, which we tabled in 2020 to lift the ambition of global policy responses. These ideas range from introducing a temporary basic income for all people living in poverty to launching a new, planetary pressures-adjusted Human Development Index – part of UNDP’s 30th anniversary look at The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene - UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner

See: UNDP 2020 Annual Report.


"Change needs to start at home": PNG inquiry on Gender-Based Violence led by Special Parliamentary Committee

The two-day inquiry at APEC Haus, in the National Capital of Port Moresby, aimed to understand challenges faced by GBV survivors and service providers.

“To end all forms of violence, including that of gender-based violence, change needs to start at home” – Hon. Charles Abel, Chair of Special Parliamentary Committee to end gender-based violence.

The pace was set right on that Monday morning with Hon. Charles Abel’s opening remark. It was day one of the first Parliamentary Inquiry and Public Hearings into gender-based violence (GBV) in Papua New Guinea.

There in the midst of all those government bodies, development partners, NGOs and civil societies, summoned before the inquiry was Lily Be’Soer - team leader of Voice for Change, a local NGO based in Jiwaka Province.

Ms Be'Soer spoke at the inquiry about what Voice for Change does and the challenges the NGO faces in her community in Jiwaka Province. Photo: Clive Hawigen | UNDP Papua New Guinea

Ms Be’ Soer, like all the other NGOs, civil society and church-based organisations was there to share her experience on dealing with violence against women and children in the communities, often some of the most remotest parts of the country where access to law and justice is non-existent.

She felt excited. She was honoured. It was her opportunity to talk face to face with the government. She knew her voice - and that of countless women and children who have suffered in the hands of violent perpetrators would be heard.

The two-day inquiry on 24-25 May, at APEC Haus in the nation’s capital of Port Moresby, aimed to understand challenges faced by GBV survivors and service providers.

The inquiry focused to identify gaps in the system and make recommendations to Parliament on the way forward - with a priority to investigate roadblocks behind funding and implementation of the 2016-2025 National GBV Strategy.

The Chairperson was joined by four parliamentary committee members - Deputy Chair and Governor of East Sepik Province, Hon. Allan Bird, Governor of NCD Powes Parkop, Member for Goroka Hon. Aiye Tamua and Member for Rabaul, Hon. Allan Marat.

Co-Chair, Hon. Allan Bird said the issue of Gender-Based Violence have been left alone for too long even though there have been various attempts by government agencies and a lot of NGO groups to curb this problem of ending GBV, it is not improving.

“The inquiry came about because of a push by the community, and also by members of parliament recognizing the epidemic proportions of the growing issues of gender-based violence in our communities. Last year, 1.4 million women and children were victims of Gender-Based Violence, and there’s going to be another million this year, some of them are the same that will continue to experience violence. All our efforts in the last 20 years have not worked. What can we do to changes this?” explained Mr Bird.

Mr Bird said one achievement that will come out of this inquiry is to give GBV the prominence it deserves.

The inquiry revealed that 1.4 million women suffer from violence in 2020. Of these 15,000 cases were registered, only 300 prosecuted and only 100 convictions achieved.

Issues that emerged from the inquiry were lack of ownership and accountability by Government departments either through lack of funding or not enough staff.

UNDP in Papua New Guinea Assistant Resident Representative, Ms Julie Bukikun said it is a very important inquiry because Papua New Guinea has some of the highest rates of GBV in the Pacific.

“The inquiry is important because it brings together those working in the frontline providing services - and support to survivors and victims of gender-based violence - and those that are supposed to be in a position to respond, for example the police, courts system, health, through funding as well as those in decision making,” said Ms Bukikun.

Ms Be’Soer said she does really hope that what is discussed at this inquiry is implemented with a collective approach by everybody in the government and in all actors involved in GBV.

“I envision that all women receive justice and that every support should be given. Whatever the women is going through has a direct impact on the children. If we prosecute the law breakers this will send them a direct message - that there is law.

“At the moment perpetrators are going away with violence. If they are brought to justice, it will send others a message that there is law and those that commit violence would face the harsh penalties of the law,” said Ms Be’Soer.

This Public Hearing on GBV has brought the agenda to public forefront, through an honest consultation on the challenges, and finding realistic short and longer-term solutions. The problem of Gender-Based Violence cannot be resolved over-night. But the Special Parliamentary Committee has taken the first few steps towards understanding and undoing the damage that lack of will and action has caused in the last 45 years.

A comprehensive report will be submitted to the Parliament in August with concrete recommendations for addressing GBV. Interested parties who wish to make a written submission to the Special Parliamentary Committee on Gender Based Violence (GBV) - can email their ideas to parliamentGBVCommittee@gmail.com by 30 June 20201.

The Special Parliamentary Committee on Gender Based Violence (GBV) Inquiry and Public Hearings was supported by UNDP in New Guinea and the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative.

New Tech to boost storytelling from Western Province

UNDP supported a team from Western Province Administration with new equipment and training to cover humanitarian and development issues.

On an overcast Tuesday afternoon, a small team of media, ICT, and disaster response professionals from the Western Provincial Administration gathered around a drone by a roadside outside Kiunga.

After accidental attempts to launch in no-fly zones, the team is set now to master their new device – a tool to capture the unique landscapes that underpin many of the development challenges facing North Fly.

Profile: Welcome to the United Nations, ''name bilong mi Dawn''

Dawn Thomas at front reception of the UN Haus, Port Moresby. Photo: Clive Hawigen/ UNDP in Papua New Guinea

To enter the world of the United Nations in Papua New Guinea, the first point of contact is the reception.

There sits an Engan lady dwarfed by the desk she sits behind. The telephone rings, and by reflex her hand shoots for the phone. She calmly and politely answers, repeating the phrase she has memorized by heart. Occasionally she is seen bobbing her head at a colleague or someone making their way in for an appointment.

Ms. Dawn Thomas says the interesting part about her job is meeting people from all walks of life.

“I’m the first person they see when they walk through the door. Hospitality is a key factor. It’s a pleasure to assist in whatever capacity I can, whether it be a client or my own colleagues. Being able to connect people and make them feel welcome is in itself satisfying. I find that I learn something new about myself and others with each interaction,” she said.

She says the first point of contact is always important.

“It takes one minute to make someone’s day and just as quickly to unmake it. I hope I make a difference wherever I can.”

Ms. Thomas also assists with administrative tasks from raising payments for invoices, reserving conference rooms, and doing a bit of translation.

She hopes that her actions speak louder than words.

“Walking the talk is something I strive to accomplish. Within a multicultural organization such as UN the benchmark is higher.”

How does Ms Thomas see Papua New Guineans better understanding the work of the UN in the country?

“One way is using social media platforms to bring awareness within the country, especially to the younger generation - and others who have access to it - to highlight what the United Nations is doing on the ground, working together with key government stakeholders. Engaging with followers and giving them the opportunity to be a part of what the UN is doing. Creating more opportunities for volunteer work.

Dawn is a third child out of six siblings. She loves being creative and doing fun things with friends and family. When she is not busy, Dawn reads and writes short stories.


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