Newsletter August 2021

Traditional sea wall on Aromot Island, Morobe Province. Photo: Clive Hawigen | UNDP Papua New Guinea.

Where do we go now?

“Our island is smaller now than it was before. The soil isn’t fertile like it used to be, we can’t grow anything here,” remembers Sipora Naraga. Life on Aromot Island was good, it isn’t the same today.

Sipora is one of more than 1,800 people living on Aromot Island - a tiny rise of land off the coast of Umboi Island in the Vitiaz Strait of Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea.

The impacts of climate change, among them more erratic weather patterns, rising sea-levels and changes in ocean temperature threaten the island's people. These changes risk food and water security as rain fall becomes less predictable, food harder to grow and fish less abundant. Growing population pressures further exacerbate these problems. Sipora knows they will need to resettle elsewhere, and did try to leave once. But many have returned to their small island homes.

Aromot Islander paddling out to the nearest reef to go fishing. Photo: Clive Hawigen | UNDP Papua New Guinea
Sea level rise and overpopulation is a concern. Aromot Island. Photo: Clive Hawigen | UNDP Papua New Guinea

‘Bai Yumi Go We’

Watch: ‘Bai Yumi Go We’ (Where Do We Go?) - a short film by UNDP Papua New Guinea that highlights the real impacts of climate change for displaced communities in the remote islands of Bougainville, and Morobe and Milne Bay Provinces of Papua New Guinea.

Filmed in August 2021, on small islands and atolls across three provinces, UNDP shares the voices of those communities most affected by the climate crisis. This 30-minute documentary was produced to mark World Humanitarian Day - and to highlight the reality of traditional island life in a global climate emergency.

Grab a coffee. Watch. Share.

UNDP’s commitment to help reduce humanitarian crises and to end need

World Humanitarian Day: The Human Race - A global challenge for climate action in solidarity with the people who need it most.

Conflicts are increasingly frequent and protracted. Climate-related shocks are more intense and frequent. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the urgency of addressing the complex, multidimensional drivers of accelerating humanitarian needs.

World Humanitarian Day is a day to take stock of these challenges, remind ourselves of the millions of people around the globe affected by conflict, disaster, poverty and disease, and for UNDP to stand shoulder-to shoulder with our humanitarian colleagues to acknowledge, and to remember, those that work to save lives and relieve suffering.

Across the Universe: The Road to Digital Transformation

East Sepik. Photo: UNDP Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea’s new digital hubs are enabling a rapid rollout of integrated financial management systems across the country.

Embracing digitalisation, new information communication technology labs established in provincial government centres are growing the capabilities of staff to manage new central databases. These will connect the country’s provinces to a national integrated financial management system.

To ensure local governments have the right infrastructure to continuously upgrade and up-skill provincial staff to effectively handle the new functions, the Provincial Capacity Building Programme (PCaB) - funded jointly by the Governments of Papua New Guinea and Australia and implemented by UNDP - supports the national rollout of the digital hubs in the provinces.

The programme provides site-based Provincial and District Support Advisors to ensure continual ICT training for a successful rollout of the Integrated Financial Management Systems. Facilities are provided to support staff in the training and allow this integration of budgeting and accounting upgrades for the country.

The digital hubs, or ICT Labs, also serve as backup support centres to government administrations when they face disruptions to power and internet connectivity.

Provincial governments provide the building, utilities, and infrastructure. The popularity of the ICT Labs now sees the provinces adding more desk space and ICT equipment from their provincial budgets, in addition to supporting the maintenance costs. The Iabs are also vital to conduct training workshops during the provincial rollout and post-rollout refresher trainings.

ICT Labs serve as backup support centres in disruptions to power and internet connectivity. West New Britain. Photo: Kerrie Hall l UNDP Papua New Guinea

West New Britain advisor Mr William Daniel says his provincial administration funded the construction of a new ICT Lab building. “The IFMS rollout teams from Port Moresby were happy to use them to conduct the trainings as the ICT Lab provided excellent infrastructure for training,” said Mr Daniel.

The program advisors for Western Highlands, Mr Edwin Hiahowi, and Simbu, Mr Mathew Tine, said their provincial administrations had funded an additional five computers for ICT Labs in their provinces, a total of 15 new computers.

With Covid-19 impeding rapid progress of IFMS rollouts, the Provincial Capacity Building Program is expanding the ICT Labs by adding Media Centers, equipped with new Smart Panels to encourage collaborative interactive learning. These smart screens connected to the main server of the Department of Finance will facilitate simultaneous training across provinces.

The Provincial Capacity Building (PCaB) Programm’s East Sepik advisor Mr John Sam says the results speak for the success of the program. “With recent power blackouts, the finance department was still able to process transactions using the new ICT Lab."

Launched in 2004, by United Nations Development Programme and Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Provincial Capacity Building Programme helps to build capacity at provincial and district-levels to embrace Information Communication Technologies - and to enhance transparency and accountability of Public Finance Management toward good governance in Papua New Guinea.


Safe Lives for All: Ending Gender Based Violence

Parliamentarians to End Gender-Based Violence Committee met with UN in Port Moresby. Photo: Clive Hawigen l UNDP Papua New Guinea

Gender-Based Violence remains a major challenge in Papua New Guinea. Addressing it requires efficient action and coordination at all levels.

The United Nations and other development partners in Papua New Guinea met this month with the Parliamentarians to End Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Committee to discuss the Inquiry Report recently tabled in the National Parliament.

Chair of the Special Parliamentary Committee on GBV, Hon. Charles Abel, partnered with the Co-Chairs of the Coalition of Parliamentarians to End GBV, Governor Hon. Allan Bird and Governor Hon. Powes Parkop. Discussions included next steps to ensure parliamentarians are supported to continue to advocate for gender equality and an end to gender-based violence.

“Our Committee has provided concrete recommendations in the GBV Report and we now need to see action. We have called on the Treasurer to provide appropriate and sustainable funding for the National GBV Strategy,” said Hon. Abel.

A common challenge facing government and non-government stakeholders alike working to end violence against women and girls, is the lack of funding. The successful implementation of a National GBV Strategy requires funding for effective results.

To date, the national and provincial authorities have faced funding shortfalls that have hampered critical prevention and response services. In a step towards addressing this, UNDP in partnership with the Department for Community Development and Religion, this month also conducted a technical three-day workshop to support provincial governments cost GBV Strategies in line with 2022 budgets.

Addressing provincial participants at the workshop, the UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Mr Edward Vrkic, said the work is vitally important to ensure that Papua New Guinea, “can harness its development potential and improve the lives of ordinary people across the entire country."

“The United Nations is committed to assist through efforts such as the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative for Ending Violence Against Women and Children. Such violence is one of the most serious challenges Papua New Guinea faces to ensuring continued and sustainable national development for its people,” said Mr Vrkic.

UN Secretary-General's statement on latest IPCC Report on Climate Science

Today’s IPCC Working Group 1 Report is a ''Code Red for Humanity''. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk. Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible.

The internationally agreed threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius warming compared to pre-industrial levels is perilously close.

We are at imminent risk of hitting 1.5 degrees in the near term. The only way to prevent exceeding this threshold is by urgently stepping up our efforts, and pursuing the most ambitious path.

We must act decisively now - to keep 1.5 alive.

Looming line in the sand for Papua New Guinea

“We are at the very forefront of climate change" - Prof. Frank Griffin, Vice Chancellor, University of Papua New Guinea. Photo: Australian National University

A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released earlier this month, finds that with temperatures rising above 1.5°C, communities in Papua New Guinea are likely to experience increasingly devastating climate change impacts.

The key findings of the report for Papua New Guinea and the Pacific were considered at an event co-hosted by the University of Papua New Guinea and The Australian National University Institute for Climate Energy and Disaster Solutions. The Vice Chancellor of the University of Papua New Guinea, Professor Frank Griffin opened with the sobering reality of the climate crisis for Papua New Guinea.

“Although we contribute a negligible amount of greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere, we are at the very forefront of climate change ... The Carterets Islanders in our country are the first climate change refugees, as a result of sea level rise.” Professor Griffin said.

Professor Mark Howden, an IPCC Vice Chair who assisted in the final approval process of the report delivered a presentation on the report’s findings including heatwaves, sea level rise, extreme rainfall events and drought.

Professor Mark Howden, IPCC Vice Chair on key findings for Papua New Guinea and the Pacific, including heatwaves, sea level rise, extreme rainfall events and drought.

“We’ve already seen our greenhouse gas emissions influencing extreme climate events. Heatwaves are becoming more frequent and more intense … drought is increasing in some regions, fire weather is becoming more frequent, and our oceans are acidifying and losing oxygen. The message is very clear, unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to 1.5°C will be beyond reach.”

Reflections on the report by key climate change decision makers, included the Hon. Wera Mori, Minister for Environment, Conservation and Climate Change (also the Global Chair of Rainforest Nations), Mr Dirk Wagener, UN Resident Coordinator a.i/UNDP Resident Representative, Mr John Mosoro, Acting Managing Director of the Forestry Authority and Mr Jimmy Gomoga, Assistant Director of the National Weather Service.

"Climate change is a juggernaut, it is a faceless monster with no domain … We have an obligation to our 10 million people in Papua New Guinea … so we do not allow the global temperature to rise by 1.5°C … We need to make it everybody’s business,” Minister Mori said.

The Minister highlighted the opportunity that Papua New Guinea had to contribute to emissions reduction via its forestry sector, a claim that was supported by Mr Wagener.

"Papua New Guinea is the lung of the Planet, home to the world's third largest intact tropical rainforest, it is a huge carbon sink" - Mr Dirk Wagener. Photo: UNDP Papua New Guinea

“Countries like Papua New Guinea should really be at the forefront of fighting climate change … Papua New Guinea is the lung of the Planet. It is home to the world's third largest intact tropical rainforest, it is a huge carbon sink.” Mr Wagener said.

The findings from this IPCC report will be at the forefront of discussions at the forthcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26), the world’s largest meeting of climate policy decision makers. More than 190 world leaders, joined by thousands of negotiators, government, NGO, and industry representatives will update their Paris Agreement commitments.


Stronger Human Rights in Bougainville

In Buka, two UN agencies conducted human rights training and awareness for government officers. Photo: UNDP Papua New Guinea.

The Autonomous Region of Bougainville has warmly welcomed two United Nations agencies for human rights training of government officers, as part of peace building and peace for development efforts.

In Buka, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), together with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) conducted a training workshop to raise awareness. This aimed to sensitise government officers on human rights and key responsibilities of Government institutions to protect human rights in Bougainville.

The workshop aimed to create dialogue and discussion on the role of government in ensuring access to information and participation of women, youth and other community sectors, in post-referendum processes. To some it was a refresher. For others, it was their first time to attend human rights training. Closing the workshop, Department of Community Development Gender Officer, Catherina Pukena said the training was "a privilege."

"Although I am a gender officer, and usually officer in charge of human rights. I have not attended human rights training previously and this an opportunity that I appreciate very much. I look forward to more training on human rights and working with UNDP and OHCHR in re-activating our gender and human rights committee."

The outcome of the workshop will be a Human Rights Action Plan for the Autonomous Bougainville Government to monitor human rights during the post-referendum period. Officers from Departments of Independence Implementation Mission, Community Government, Community Development, Justice, Economic Development, Primary Industries, Technical Services, and Education attended the workshop.


Critical boost to Anti-Corruption with new project

Head of the European Delegation, H.E. Mr. Jernej Videtič, Minister for Justice Hon. Bryan Kramer and UNDP Resident Representative, Dirk Wagener with the signed agreement.

Preventing and countering corruption in Papua New Guinea benefits from the launch of a new United Nations-led anti-corruption project adding significant resources to current efforts.

An integral aim of the EU-PNG Partnership for Good Governance, the overall goal of the Papua New Guinea Anti-Corruption Project is to substantially reduce corruption in the country. Funded by the European Union, this new investment valued at EUR 5.4 million represents a major commitment by the United Nations, the European Union and Government of Papua New Guinea.

The Project aims to strengthen the Government’s commitment and capacities to address corruption in line with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and to effectively progress the Sustainable Development Goals for the benefit of all Papua New Guineans.

The Project will be implemented jointly by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Partners include the Government of Papua New Guinea, key national institutions, civil society, and communities.


Meeting Ms. Milka Okiddy

UNDP Operations Manager, Ms. Milka Okiddy. Photo: Seru Kepa | UNDP Papua New Guinea.

“I look forward to a time when the UN is funded by both private and public sectors and recognized as a powerful and unbiased force for good throughout the world.” - Milka Okiddy, Operations Manager

An avid reader and Netflix enthusiast, hailing all the way from Molo in Kenya, Ms. Milka Okiddy is the Operations Manager at UNDP in Papua New Guinea.“I am thankful each morning I wake up to be able to work with a diverse group of people in an organization that is working to change the quality of life for people not only in Papua New Guinea but around the world,” said Ms Okiddy.

As Operations Manager, her daily tasks vary from transactions to being out in the field. “No two weeks are the same and there is always some issue or other to address so. The excitement never ends.”

Having such a hectic schedule, Ms. Okiddy finds herself juggling many tasks. She says her ability to multitask effectively, encounter changes and stay ahead of her work comes down to her strong mother, her greatest role model.

“My mother - if she had had an education beyond class 8, in the old British system, she would most certainly be running her own large organization. She is almost 80 now, and has recently changed homes because she did not like where she was,” she said. "She has never been afraid to change, and I want to be like her.”

Lions left Nairobi National Park in Kenya, to roam in streets nearby Milka's home. Game wardens "had to come and get them". Photo: Supplied.

Being part of the country office for a little over a year now, Ms Okiddy says she is proud to be an International Civil Servant supporting UNDP in Papua New Guinea, in key initiatives and achievements in the country.

“Papua New Guinea has abundant natural resources and a rich and diverse culture. These need to be preserved and nurtured for future generations and also enhanced to ensure that all citizens of Papua New Guinea are not only able to enjoy equal access to these resources but also made aware of their obligations in ensuring these resources are handed down to future generations, enriched by the responsible stewardship of the current generation.”

Ms. Okiddy stressed further UNDP’s efforts to promote the importance of gender equality in the country. “I like that UNDP is at the forefront in the fight against Gender-Based Violence in the country, and with getting dedicated electoral seats for Women in Parliament. In the context of a recent workshop on getting the UNDP gender seal, charity begins at home. We in the office need to internalize the ideals of gender equity and be the ambassadors of those ideals to the wider community,” she said.

Ms Okiddy, a mother of two daughters, completed her undergraduate and accounting studies in Kenya before obtaining her Master's degree from the University of Amsterdam. She enjoys reading in her free time and, is a newly found member of the Netflix community.

“I love reading anything, if I am bored enough, I will even read a dictionary. However, I am a recent addict of Netflix, I watch many shows concurrently. But this week’s series is – The Chair”.


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