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