Newsletter October 2020

Banner promoting the UN75 Forum Series in Papua New Guinea ©UN/ R.Donovan

UN75 and Beyond: UNDP in Papua New Guinea joins a global discussion

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Papua New Guinea, together with other UN agencies in the country, hosted a Forum Series of livestreamed panel discussions across the nation during the month of October - as part of the UN75 Dialogue.

These discussions celebrated the United Nations' 75th global anniversary and 45 years of the United Nations in Papua New Guinea - a lead up to the main event, the UN Day Partnership Dialogue cohosted by the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Hon. James Marape to be held in early November 2020.

The forums invited Papua New Guineans to a conversation on what has been achieved and, more importantly, what is still to be done to achieve a just and peaceful society for all. The forums were broadcast live to the world via social media on facebook: @UNinPNG.

Topics discussed by a range of panelists from academia to grassroots community-based organisations included real issues from peacebuilding, sustainable development and environmental conservation, rural agriculture and economic empowerment to good governance, gender equality, tackling gender-based violence, and the importance of strong partnerships.

UNDP hosted a lively discussion on the 'Realities of Sustainable Development in PNG.' This live panel forum was broadcast from the tropical gardens of Port Moresby Nature Park.

Panelists, leading local environmental and climate voices discussed the path forward for sustainable development in Papua New Guinea through conservation, climate change and renewable energies - and explored ways to best protect PNG's unique biodiversity. The discussion was moderated by UNDPs Ms Gretel Orake, Project manager for the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency project. Watch the video below:

If you missed the #UN75 live panel forums, held across Papua New Guinea - follow the links below to view the other livestreamed discussions, now available on Youtube:


UN opens offices in Hela and Southern Highlands provinces

United Nations Resident Coordinator, Gianluca Rampolla (5th from left), UN agencies representatives and provincial government officials raise the PNG and UN flags.

The United Nations Development Programme in Papua New Guinea is proud to be a part of the United Nations Family to witness the opening of two new UN offices in the PNG Highlands this month.

UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Dirk Wagener and team accompanied the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Gianluca Rampolla, and other UN agencies, to reaffirm the United Nations' commitment to sustainable peace and development in the Highlands Region.

The new office in Mendi, in the Southern Highlands Province - the coordination office for the Highlands Joint Programme - was opened by Mr. Rampolla and senior provincial government officials. UNDP will be the coordinating agency of the Highlands Joint Programme and is providing common services to all participating agencies such as office facilities.

“This is the UN’s home base here in the Southern Highlands Province. It doesn’t matter from which agencies we come from, we all work here together as One UN,” said Mr Wagener, to the assembled UN and Southern Highlands provincial government staff.

In Hela Province, Governor Philip Undialu and Lord Mayor of Tari Town, Andaja Jali, joined the UN Family to open the new office in the provincial capital of Tari.

“The visible and continued presence of the UN on the ground, symbolized by this flag, provides for a wave of hope for the community of Hela, ” said Governor Udialu.


Handover of 20 life saving ventilators to the National Department of Health procured by UNDP

Minister for Health and HIV/AIDS Dr Puka Temu, China Ambassador H.E. Xue Bing, Prime Minister Hon. James Marape and UN Resident Coordinator Gianluca Rampolla.

Twenty lifesaving ventilators were handed over to the Government of Papua New Guinea to further strengthen the country’s health system at national and provincial levels. A total of 30 ventilators have now been delivered to the government with support of the United Nations.

In handing over the ventilators on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Resident Coordinator Gianluca Rampolla reaffirmed the organisation’s commitment to the government’s COVID response. “This is the latest of many handovers we have made since March and it is far from the last,” said Mr Rampolla.

“The UN continue to support the fight against COVID and help Papua New Guinea’s healthcare system become more resilient to future health crises.”

Delivering these ventilators at a total cost of more than US$ 600,000 (2.1 million PGK/ Papua New Guinean Kina) was made possible through the collaborative efforts of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the People’s Republic of China through its Embassy in Port Moresby. China has donated US$ 450,000 to the procurement of ventilators with the balance contributed by UNDP.

The ventilators will bolster the country’s investment in strengthening frontline health systems and its capacity to treat possible acute cases of COVID-19. This essential equipment will also enhance the support of intensive care treatment for other acute respiratory or life-threatening illnesses.

UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Dirk Wagener said the need for ventilators as essential equipment in the country’s hospitals can help patients survive many critical illnesses, not just COVID-19.

“These ventilators are a life-saving tool. They will help many people now and into the future across the country. UNDP and the People’s Republic of China have been proud to lead this health procurement process in support of the Government of Papua New Guinea.”

The generosity of the Government of People’s Republic of China and H.E. Ambassador Xue Bing have financed 15 of the ventilators, and UNDP sponsored the remaining five ventilators. The People’s Republic of China has further supported the Papua New Guinea health response with clinical preparedness support to Port Moresby General Hospital.

Mr. Wagener said the National Department of Health’s swift and sustained efforts to address the country’s preparedness and response to COVID-19 from January, well before many countries in the world, had strengthened the health infrastructure in PNG.

UNDP’s continued full support for the Government of Papua New Guinea’s preparedness and response efforts, addresses both health and non-health impacts.

Mr. Rampolla and H.E. Ambassador Xue Bing were joined by the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, the Hon. James Marape – with Minister for Health Sir Puka Temu, and National Pandemic Controller, who thanked the People’s Republic of China and UNDP for their generous support.

Mr Marape said he is happy to see both the Chinese Government and UNDP step in to assist with the ventilators, adding that the PNG Government appreciates the gift.

“This small but symbolic occasion further strengthens the relationship with UN and the Chinese Government. Every help matters in this time. In instances where there’s acute respiratory symptoms, the ventilators will help during and beyond Covid-19,” the Prime Minister said.


World needs new view of prosperity moving forward

The coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of slowing with rising death toll while economic impact continues to threaten decades of human development growth, writes UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.

New York, 29 September 2020 – The world has passed a grim milestone as the World Health Organization announced in September that 1 million people had died from the coronavirus. More than 33 million people had been infected with the virus since it began in late 2019, and those numbers expect to grow as more countries sound the alarm about second waves.

The pandemic has also taken a dramatic socio-economic toll on the world with governments pumping as much as US$11 trillion into economies to keep them afloat. Stopping the virus while protecting people from the economic devastation remains top priority, says United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Achim Steiner.

“The climbing death toll is staggering, and we must work together to slow the spread of this virus,” Achim Steiner says. “The world is at a breaking point. In almost every country and territory our socio-economic impact assessments have revealed economies slowing down and contracting.

The IMF forecasts a grim end of year with 172 countries expecting negative growth. Economists predict that GDP levels will not return to pre-Covid19 levels until 2023. Those low to medium development countries will be hit the hardest, not just economically, but also socially. The people living in those countries are on the brink.”

The impact from the coronavirus pandemic has put enormous strain on world economies and for the first time in 30 years has sent human development into reverse. In 2020, as many as 100 million more people could fall into extreme poverty (UNDP), while 270 million people are in danger of acute food insecurity (World Food Programme).

PNG's Socio-Economic Impact Assessment of Covid-19 report is available on the UNDP in Papua New Guinea website. Follow link to download a copy of the report: SEIA Report

Safeguards could prevent further shocks for people in low development countries who face further harm to education, health, and access to livelihoods. For example, countries can roll out a temporary basic income that would provide a social safety net against poverty while also stopping the spread of the virus.

However, safeguards are not enough, according to Steiner. Moving forward from the crisis requires a complete transformation on how the world views prosperity and progress, putting people and planet at the core of recovery rather than GDP metrics.

It also requires shifting toward tomorrow’s economies that include renewable energies and carbon pricing, and away from outdated economies built on fossil fuel reliance. Depending on GDP metrics to determine debt, credit and access to international markets will exacerbate the crisis.

“Today, it is 64 times cheaper for the richest economies of the world to access international credit than for a developing country on the African continent,” Steiner says.

“When countries are looking to bolster their economic landscape, we hear across continents and communities the call for a future that is green, fair and equitable. We cannot continue on this collision course with nature, and ultimately ourselves,” Steiner says.

For more information on the socio-economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, visit www.undp.org.


Bougainville women join Cabinet for first time

For first time, two women electees to Bougainville House of Representatives join Cabinet – including Minister for Education, and Minister for Primary Industries and Marine Resources.

The United Nations was honoured to join Prime Minister Hon. James Marape and diplomatic corps, in Buka, to witness swearing in of the 40 members of Bougainville House of Representatives, including four women electees.

Acting UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Dirk Wagener represented the United Nations at the inauguration of the 4th Bougainville House of Representatives, for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

President-elect of the Autonomous Bougainville Government Hon. Ishmael Toroama, together with Vice President Hon. Patrick Nisira, and Speaker of Bougainville House of Representatives Hon. Simon Pentanu - were joined by Deputy Speaker and Women’s Representative for South Bougainville Hon. Therese Kaetavara.

In addition to the election of the female deputy speaker, three other female Members of Parliament were appointed, with two entering the Toroama-Nisira Cabinet for the first time since the establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, founded in 2005.

Joining Cabinet for the first time as women representatives, congratulations to Minister for Education Hon. Theonila Roka Matbob and Minister for Primary Industries and Marine Resources (also Member for Central Bougainville Women), Hon. Yolande Geraldine Paul. Congratulations also to Member for North Bougainville Women, Amanda Masono Getsi.

The contributions of women of Bougainville have been influential in the peace process up to the signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, and its implementation, which includes the successful Bougainville Referendum in November 2019.

The United Nations has been working in Bougainville since 1998 and remains committed to work with President Toroama, his government and members of the Bougainville House of Representatives, and in support of the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.


PNG celebrates International Day for Rural Women, October 15

Established in 2007 by the United Nations General Assembly, the annual International Day for Rural Women recognizes “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.”

Women make specific contributions to forestry and agroforestry value chains. These are important for their family incomes, and in turn for the well-being and food security of their households.

However, women’s roles in value chains tend to be poorly supported by policy-makers and extension services. The perpetual lack of gender disaggregated data hampers the development of policy interventions to address the issue.

Each year, on 15 October, we celebrate the achievements of rural and indigenous women across the nation of Papua New Guinea.


The Kainake Project: Conserving fauna and flora, preserving culture

The Bougainville monkey-faced bat (Pterolopex flanneryi), hunted widely in the area, is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Photo: Dr Dave Waldien/ Bat Conservation International

In the southwest of the island of Bougainville, Kainake village is home to virgin, lowland tropical forest inhabited by unique plants and wildlife - including the rare and elusive kamare and monkey-faced bats - found only in this region dubbed as the “Galapagos of the Western Pacific”.

Little is known from recent times of the Bougainville giant rat (Solomys salebrosus) – known as kamare in local language – or the Greater monkey-faced bat (Pterolopex flanneryi), both endemic to these forests of Bougainville and nearby Solomon Islands.

Both are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as Endangered and Critically Endangered, respectively, their numbers decreasing due to hunting and land clearing.

Monkey-faced bats are some of the largest bats in the world and are considered to have originated in this region. The Bougainville giant rat, which weighs up to two kilograms and can grow up to a metre long, had not been seen by scientists since 1937, according to the Australian Museum before an expedition sighting in 2016.

The Kainake Project resource centre teaches life skills and is a venue for community vocational training. Participants above in business skills development. Photo: courtesy of Dr Jeffrey Noro.

Biologist Dr Jeff Noro, who grew up in the forests that surround Kainake village, is co-founder of The Kainake Project that aims for protection and management of rare and endangered species endemic to Bougainville and the Solomon archipelago - a critical ecoregion known for its high endemism and speciation.

Over 60 hectares of this conservation site in Siwai District make up the Kainake Community Conservation and Research Area.

Cofunded by the UNDP Small Grants Programme (SGP) in its initial stage, The Kainake Project is now being recognised by international and national academic institutions and the district’s political leader, Hon. Timothy Masiu, Member for South Bougainville.

Dr Noro, who champions conservation work in his community explained that the sites successful implementation has allowed several research opportunities - especially the conservation research and population survey of threatened mammals endemic to the Solomon Island archipelago.

“The giant tree rat is widespread in Bougainville - however, sightings of this rodent is very rare. The decline in population is mainly due to habitat destruction from agriculture and is also hunted as a source of protein,” said Dr Noro, who attained his PhD in microbiology and molecular biology from the University of NSW, and now is Director of Policy for the PNG Science and Technology Secretariat.

He said the conservation of these two mammal species will have immense impact due to their cultural significance and their critical ecological roles as seed dispersers for ecosystem maintenance.

Researchers in the conservation area. Photo: courtesy of Dr Jeffrey Noro.

The Kainake Project’s work is also empowering the community by providing them with different types of trainings to improve personal and livelihood choices and, at the same time, highlighting the importance of sustainability.

The research facility has become a learning hub for locals to learn life skills training and potential income generation for communities through opportunities such as vanilla farming. This essentially relieves pressure on the area, in terms of logging and hunting wildlife for protein consumption.

In September 2018, the community launched a book called 'Kuna Siuwai Pokong - Medicinal Plants from Siwai' at the Jarvis Dooney Galerie in Berlin, Germany for European Month of Photography. This endeavour to record indigenous knowledge of traditional plant-based medicine - and to keep alive the region’s traditional oral culture - has seen the project grow significantly over the years.

'Kuna Siuwai Pokong - Medicinal Plants from Siwai' records medicinal plants found in southwest Bougainville. Photo: Dr Jeffrey Noro.

This approach to conservation has gained further international recognition illustrated by a recent collaboration with the Australian Museum for the preservation of the monkey-faced bats and giant tree rat species. The conservation area is currently being managed and regulated by the Kainake Village Assembly made up of all the land-owning clans that have rights over the conservation area.

The Kainake Project operates as a community-based organization that supports the work of the Kainake Village Assembly, a third tier of government under the Bougainville Council of Elders (COE) Act 1997.


Progressing PNG's Nationally Determined Contributions to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions

Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA) staff and key government stakeholders take a group photo during the session. Photo: courtesy of CCDA.

Papua New Guinea is one of over 150 countries to have signed the Paris Agreement expressing its commitment to address Climate Change.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) plays a lead role in coordinating and supporting PNGs Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA) works toward addressing climate change in the country.

Initiatives include UNDP's Climate Promise to support and increase national ambitions to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions – the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) - or actions to achieve, adapt and mitigate against the impacts of climate change.

PNG is progressing well towards submitting its enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), under the Paris Agreement, by December 2020. With collaboration from stakeholders and development partners, PNG can design achievable action items to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Papua New Guinea's Climate Change and Development Authority (CCDA) conducted a weeklong workshop, at Koitaki Country Club during 5-9 October, to progress the NDCs from a zero draft to a first draft.

The CCDA technical working committee (TWC) members have undertaken one-on-one consultations with various stakeholders in the Energy, Forestry and Land Use, and Adaptation Sectors to confirm the mitigation targets, adaptation priorities and actions for the Enhanced NDC First Draft.

CCDAs General Manager for the Measurements, Reporting & Verification (MRV) and National Communications Division, Mr Alfred Rungol, explained that the first official draft would be circulated for further consultation before it is presented in the upcoming NDC Stakeholder meeting and the high-level meeting organised by the Minister for Environment and Climate Change.

“In this regard, the CCDA, as a lead Government agency coordinating climate change in the country, strives to coordinate this process through development partnerships in PNG,” said Mr Rungol.


Reducing PNG's Greenhouse Gas Emissions from land use & forestry

© UNDP/M.Isoev

United Nations Development Programme in Papua New Guinea assisted the Government of PNG - this month in East New Britain - to support the Department of Lands and Physical Planning (DLPP) in revising the National Sustainable Land Use Policy (NSLUP).

The DLPP is leading the revision and currently undertaking stakeholder consultations across all regions of the country. This workshop was jointly supported by UNDP and World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) in PNG.

More than 100 participants from relevant national and provincial government agencies, incorporated landowner groups, and the private sector, came together October 7-9 in Kokopo for the New Guinea Islands Regional Consultation Workshop - to share experiences, lessons learned and contribute to the revision of the Land Use Policy in the country.

The importance of sustainable land use policy and planning is recognized under two key action areas of the PNG’s National Strategy on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+):

  • Strengthened and Coordinated National Level Development and Land Use Planning - through development of climate and REDD+ relevant development indicators, within the national development framework - and strengthening the development of national land use policy, planning and legislation;
  • Integrated Subnational Planning through strengthening Ward Level (district council) and Local Level Government (LLG) planning - and strategic development planning at provincial, and district levels and the linkages between levels of planning;

Deputy Secretary of the DLPP, Mr. Oswald Tolopa said his department acknowledged the support of development partners to sustain and advance economic growth, promote responsible stewardship of land resources and social well-being in the country.

“Increasing awareness, and potential benefits to sector agencies, subnational governments and land-owner groups are critical to the success of the policy and require sensitization and engagement over a period of time,” he said.

UNDP Chief Technical Advisor Mr. Mirzohaydar Isoev, on behalf of UNDP, acknowledged the Department of Lands for its leadership to ensure sustainable and green growth development in the country.

“UNDP as a longstanding partner of the Government is also supporting other lead agencies to review the climate change and forestry policies - to align all sector legislations with the national and international commitments”


PNG Government reviews Forestry Act to address deforestation & degradation

The United Nations Development Programme in Papua New Guinea is supporting the Government of Papua New Guinea to streamline and harmonise forestry legislations in line with the National REDD+ Strategy (on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), and other national development strategies.

PNG Forestry Authority - as a lead government agency for forest management - during October 2020 held its first Regional Stakeholder Consultation Workshop in Kokopo, East New Britain Province, bringing together over 60 stakeholders from provinces across New Guinea Islands (NGI) Region to seek views and inputs in the application of the Forestry Act.

During the two-day consultation workshop, all stakeholders shared their experiences, emerging issues, and developmental trends related to forestry legislation - as well as policy implications on landowning communities.

They also discussed opportunities to harmonise the legislation with national, provincial and district regulations to ensure that the review is economically, environmentally and socially sound.

Dr Ruth Turia, in officially opening the Forestry Act Review Workshop said, "the current review of the Forestry Act is a Government priority that also includes the review of other sectoral legislation such as the Climate Change (Management) Act and the National Sustainable Land Use Policy."

The Forestry Act Review will also take into account the Government’s policy directive to phase out round log exports from natural forest and increase domestic processing.


Changemaker JiveMarket recognised for ICT innovation by UNCDF

UNDP and UNCDF Resident Representative, Mr Dirk Wagener presenting a novelty cheque to Mr Jaive Smare during the SME Awards night. Photo: courtesy of SME Magazine.

Making inroads into developing Information and Communications Technology (ICT) content for Papua New Guineans is gaining momentum.

In the last decade alone more and more Papua New Guineans are delving into the world of ICT and the development of user-friendly applications.

JiveMarket.com is one such online service platform that is innovative, simple to use and with the aim of creating change.

In the inaugural 2020 PNG SME Awards, JiveMarket.com was awarded for the ‘Best ICT Innovation.’ This award was sponsored by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).

JiveMarket.com developer and founder, Mr Jaive Smare, said JiveMarket.com is an online service with the aim of making purchases for electricity, mobile credits and airline tickets easier, and safer.

“There are over two thousand three hundred agents throughout the country. Our aim is to make it easier for rural communities, especially, for mothers and women to be safe. Instead of walking longer distance, agents bring these services closer to the community,” he said.

Mr Smare was humbled to have been recognised for the SME ICT Innovation award. JiveMarket.com came 3rd runner up in the overall top SME for 2020.

Congratulations to Mr Jaive Smare.


Fifteen years and counting

This year, the United Nations celebrates our 75th anniversary and also marks 45 years in Papua New Guinea. As part of the celebration, we highlighted the inspirational team that make up the UN in PNG.

Meet Steven Paissat. After 15 years with the UN, he is passionate about how individuals can create a better world for all Papua New Guineans.

Steven Paissat.

“I believe everyone has a calling, a destiny, a chance to contribute, an opportunity to make a difference.”

People who have crossed paths with Mr Steven Paissat know he is a self-driven and motivated professional with a focused attitude of success and a thirst for change.

His willingness to help is portrayed through his long service at the United Nations Development Programme. For more than 15 years, Mr Paissat has been the go-to guy. Some may even say he is the jack-of-all-trade on matters UNDP related.

His dedication and versatility saw him progress through the ranks at the Papua New Guinea Country Office. From Common Services Manager to heading the Project Services team, Operations Analyst to Head of Operations, he then led a post as Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB) National Operations Manager to support the referendum process. Mr Paissat is now Programme Analyst for the UNDP PNG Environment portfolio.

“To know that I am contributing to the organization, and its goals - to help with developing the people and the country - is what gives me motivation to come into work every day. It is one of the most satisfying and rewarding jobs that I have been involved with.”

“I think that’s where the main opportunity is, to convey to our partners that our services are valuable, so they feel ownership - and that the support provided by UNDP will be vital or beneficial for them. Once partners understand our goal and vision, that is when we see the relevance of our support moving in the right direction.”

Mr Paissat aspires to present to the world what UNDP has offered to PNG and how the organisation helps the country’s development.

“Maybe in 10 years’ time, I would like to be able to take the experiences of PNG and share with the rest of the world through a foreign mission.

One of the biggest challenges of the world is bringing people together under a common aspiration. Though still a lot of work is needed, and we are a very young nation, we have made steady progress in PNG with so many different cultures working together.”

Mr Paissat is a true Papua New Guinean. He is an islander by heritage, from a mixed parentage of New Ireland and Manus. Born in the Eastern Highlands Provincial capital of Goroka, he spent the few first years of his life in Tari before making Port Moresby his home.

Contact us: info.png@undp.org

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