Newsletter March 2021

On National Women's Day in Papua New Guinea, women stand 'United for Equality.' Photo: UNDP Papua New Guinea | Clive Hawigen.

‘Still so much to do’

UNDP Resident Representative Mr Dirk Wagener

Papua New Guinea's National Women’s Day on 24 March reminds us of the critical role women play in ensuring healthy, prosperous, and successful societies. It also reminds us of the barriers they continue to face in achieving true equality.

The theme for this year’s National Women’s Day highlights that the full and effective empowerment of women will only be realized when they can participate in all areas of life free from the fear of violence. And it is violence against women that remains one of the greatest impediments women face in Papua New Guinea.

Gender-based, sexual and family violence is a stain on Papua New Guinea. It hangs like a weight on the country’s national development. It hampers economic growth, and with it, the social mobility of so many people. Worst of all, it has fractured communities, destroyed lives, and eaten into the social fabric of the country.

For a country as great as Papua New Guinea, this stain is unfortunately a measure by which many around the world see it. If we add the fact that there isn’t a single female member in the current National Parliament and that Papua New Guinea ranks on place 161 of 162 countries on the global Gender Inequality Index (GII, 2019), we are reminded of what we need to focus on.


#ChooseToChallenge​: UNDP's Senior Leaders in Asia-Pacific on International Women's Day

On International Women's Day #IWD2021, UNDP leaders across Asia and the Pacific joined together in cyberspace for a unique and highly successful Twitter challenge, the #ChoosetoChallenge against gender bias campaign.

From the high Himalayas to the Pacific islands, including our own Resident Representative for Papua New Guinea, Dirk Wagener, see what our leaders had to say in support of #GenerationEquality.


Parliamentary Gender-Based Violence Committee address impacts of COVID19

Coalition of Parliamentarians to End GBV (l-r); Gov. East Sepik Province, Hon. Allan Bird; Gov. Oro Province, Hon. Gary Juffa; Gov. National Capital District, Hon. Powes Parkop; MP Ijivitari Open, Hon. Richard Masere; and MP Alotau Open, Hon, Charles Able (via zoom) at media conference, Hilton Hotel, Port Moresby.

The first meeting of the Special Parliamentary Committee on Gender Based-Violence in Papua New Guinea heard Members of Parliament call on Government colleagues to pay special attention to the impact of COVID19 on women and children, who are more vulnerable to gender-based violence when families are required to stay at home.

The Special Committee was established in late 2020, part of efforts by the Parliamentary Coalition Against GBV to address the scourge of violence against women and children. The Special Committee is mandated to look more closely at issues affecting the national response to GBV, including law reform, national and provincial GBV prevention and response activities, and health and law enforcement approaches.

In his opening statement, Chair of the Special Committee, Hon Charles Abel stated: “We are grateful to the Prime Minister, and to the Government, for recognising GBV as a critical national issue that we must address proactively. We thank the government for the establishment of this Committee and it is a deep honour and responsibility to be appointed Chair”.

“PM Marape has indicated his support for this Committee and we intend to use our parliamentary powers to shine a light on the problems our women are facing across the country. We want to make sure that our government bodies are implementing the most effective and appropriate responses to tackle GBV and ensure the safety of all our people.”

The meeting of the Special Committee brought together its members for the first time to discuss their terms of reference and decide on their workplan for the next sessions of Parliament. The committee used the opportunity to officially endorse the Outcomes Statement arising from the first National GBV Summit held in November 2020 and committed to progressing implementation of priority actions.

The meeting, held primarily by Zoom in light of new COVID19 restrictions implemented across Papua New Guinea during March, acknowledged the special challenges COVID19 has brought across the world, particularly for women.

“Research has shown that COVID19 has disproportionately affected women across the world, " stated Hon. Able.

“In PNG, we now need to be proactive to mitigate the impact of COVID19 on our women, especially if we must now restrict our movements. We must make sure women have online ways to access crisis services if they can’t move around easily because of COVID19. I also call on the men of our nation to do the right thing – violence is never ok, not even if you are frustrated by the loss of your job or you are upset because you cannot move around easily.”

In addition to the workplan, members raised substantive issues already being discussed by the community. How to promote women’s leadership was a key issue of importance identified by Committee members. They discussed the Government’s current effort to reconsider reserved seats for women in advance of the 2022 National Elections.

At the conclusion, committee members joined the meeting of the Coalition of Parliamentarians Against Gender-based Violence. Chaired by Hon Powes Parkop, Governor of NCD, and Hon Allan Bird, the Coalition discussed the work of the Parliamentary Committee and the action plan moving forward.

The Committee remains committed to working with the public on their concerns and learn from their experiences, in particular, how to most effectively prevent and respond to GBV across the diverse communities of the country.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is providing technical support to the Special Parliamentary Committee on GBV as part of its gender programming under the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, addressing Gender-Based Violence and longer-term efforts to promote women’s participation and leadership in the Parliament.


Value of Nature: Papua New Guinea's price on biodiversity a win-win for people and planet

Papua New Guinea contains over 7% of the world’s biodiversity in less than 1% of the world’s land. Photo: UNDP Papua New Guinea.

The importance of accounting for biodiversity and ecosystem services for future economic and environment sustainability is growing globally with Papua New Guinea now joining these efforts.

Supported by the United Nations Development Programme in partnership with James Cook University, Australia, the Government of Papua New Guinea has begun addressing how best to account for the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services in shaping Papua New Guinea’s economic and environmental future.

UNDP’s Resident Representative to Papua New Guinea, Mr. Dirk Wagener said valuing Papua New Guinea’s unique biodiversity is an important milestone for the country.

“Biodiversity is the foundation that provides the services we need to survive, such as drinking water, breathable air, fertile soil for agriculture and abundant seas. Papua New Guinea contains over 7% of the world’s biodiversity in less than 1% of the world’s land. If biodiversity is not protected, the country’s economy and livelihoods of its people will suffer," said Mr. Wagener.

The benefits derived from biodiversity and ecosystem services in Papua New Guinea are significant but are systematically undervalued. Part of the reason for this undervaluation is that they have not been assessed. This assessment aims to directly address this gap and contribute to national decision-making with long-term economic prosperity in mind. Globally the costs of inaction are clear and alarming. Between 1997 and 2011, the world lost an estimated USD 4-20 trillion per year in ecosystem services owing to land-cover change and USD 6-11 trillion per year from land degradation (OECD, 2019).

A team from the Cairns Institute at James Cook University, will develop a methodology - applicable to the context of Papua New Guinea – to conduct for the first time a national assessment of the ecosystem services generated by the natural environment, identifying the interlinkages with economic sectors and livelihoods. The result of the analysis will demonstrate the value of investing in nature and that it is worth the return on investment for biodiversity protection.

The future sustainability of the Papua New Guinea economy is largely dependent on nature. The country’s forestry, mining, agriculture, tourism, and fisheries sector all benefit directly from an intact and productive natural environment.

Valuing the contribution of biodiversity to Papua New Guinea’s economy and livelihoods can help protect nature, a win-win for people and planet.


Papua New Guinea is a natural resource-dependent country. About 87 percent of Papua New Guinea’s population live in rural communities and are reliant on subsistence agriculture, fishing, and hunting (World Bank, 2019). Eight percent live within one kilometer of the sea and are reliant on the ocean for protein and livelihoods. Unsustainable land-use change and forest degradation from commercial and illegal logging have already led to reducing soil quality and fertility, reducing agricultural yields.

At present, 18 percent of the global tuna stock is found in Papua New Guinea’s largest macro-economic tuna fishery – in the northern Exclusive Economic Zone, or EEZ. But, according to the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority, the country’s tuna industry is under threat due to over-exploitation of yellowfin and bigeye tuna.


Celebrating World Wildlife Day in Papua New Guinea

World Wildlife Day is an opportunity to celebrate Papua New Guinea’s exceptional wildlife and the forests that sustain our people and planet.

Papua New Guinea is blessed with incomparable levels of diversity. We celebrated ‘Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet’ - this World Wildlife Day 2021 on 3 March, highlighting the central role of forests, forest species and ecosystems that sustain people, particularly forest communities.

Papua New Guinea’s forests are recognized as one of the most significant areas of intact forest in the world, significant for their role in absorbing greenhouse gases and regulating regional weather patterns[1] to benefit all life.

The United Nations Development Programme in Papua New Guinea, is implementing a national project that aims to strengthen the management of protected areas. Supporting Government and local communities to expand numbers and size of Wildlife Management Areas and Community Conserved Areas, the project works to reverse decline of wildlife species and degradation of natural ecosystems important to the country and local livelihoods.


Milne Bay: Renewable energy on target to power small island communities

Renewable Energy training at Samarai Island. Photo: UNDP Papua New Guinea | Gretel Orake.

The United Nations Development Programme in Papua New Guinea is working toward development of renewable energy and energy-efficiency plans to power the small islands of Milne Bay Province.

In partnership with the Climate Change and Development Authority and University of Papua New Guinea's Centre of Renewable Energy (UPNGCORE), the UNDP/GEF Project on Facilitating Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction (FREAGER) had its team in Alotau, Milne Bay in early March for a series of workshops, information sessions and a field trip to promote renewable energy on small islands.

UNDP joined partners on Samarai Island, the former administrative capital of Milne Bay Province where Papua New Guinea Power is installing solar panels to supply over 70KW of power for the 29ha island community.

In Alotau, a workshop facilitated by UPNGCORE held a training focused on calculations of load demands that help determine solar power generation capacity. Attended by representatives from provincial government and renewable energy stakeholders of Milne Bay Province, the workshop highlighted how to identify suitability of solar pv mini grids for community needs. Handbooks used in the workshops will be available online.


Papua New Guinea's first female fraud examiner aims to drive anti-corruption reforms

Ms Doris Marasembi is the first woman in Papua New Guinea to globally qualify as a Certified Fraud Examiner. Photo: Courtesy of PNG Department of Finance/ Communications Team

Meet Doris Marasembi. A certified accountant and reporting specialist with a day job at the Department of Finance, Doris is on a mission to help build a more sustainable future for Papua New Guinea.

Aiming to drive reforms in public and corporate sectors, Doris spent a year studying at night to further her goal with a passion that has paid off with exciting news.

Doris Marasembi now is the first woman in Papua New Guinea to be globally qualified as a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). Proud to be a female leader in the field of fraud detection, Doris says her achievement will further strengthen national governance.

“My new certification adds more value to Government systems and business processes, audit investigations, prevention and detection to more effectively and efficiently eradicate fraud at all levels”.

The platform for the ACFE course, globally accredited by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners - required my commitment and dedication. I thoroughly and repeatedly read the course materials using different mediums requiring a minimum of 5 hours daily, reading applications, and had to forgo my family and other social obligations, says Ms Marasembi.

“The required standards of passing the exams were quite high and challenging when I had to re-sit the exams to pass. The support, patience and the motivation I got from my family got me to be determined and persistence to pass this course.”

Moving forward, Doris Marasembi now is certified to conduct Fraud Awareness and training support to weed out malpractice and detection of poor internal controls leading to frauds in the workplace.

Her work will help Papua New Guinea to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 16 – aimed at building peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable, and transparent institutions, including reducing corruption.

The use of Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) by Government will tighten the expenditure, revenue collection, budgeting, procurement and reporting processes using a centralized system to strengthen overall prevention, investigation, and fraud detection.

Supporting Ms Marasembi in her journey, UNDP in Papua New Guinea will continue to assist to strengthen her skillset - as well as others also pursing this certification, to establish a pool of qualified fraud examiners. This responds to current technical capacity gaps in fraud training awareness and analytical skills required to analyze government expenditure trends, budgets, and service delivery.

UNDP will continue to support the work through its new anti-corruption project, in partnership with UNODC, that will be funded by the European Union in Papua New Guinea. The aim of the project is to support the Government of Papua New Guinea, key national institutions, civil society, and communities to strengthen their commitment and capacities to address corruption.

In line with the United Nations Convention against Corruption it will effectively progress the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, for the benefit of all Papua New Guineans.

Close the gap: Sustainable finance for protected areas

UNDP ran a virtual workshop of 45 stakeholders in support of effective protected area financing and management. Photo: UNDP Papua New Guinea

Understanding the laws and policies to successfully manage Protected Areas is important and Papua New Guinea is serious about protecting biodiversity and nature conservation.

A virtual workshop on ‘Institutional and Regulatory Review Validation’ guided stakeholders in assessment of the support required for effective protected area financing and management.

Facilitated by the United Nations Development Programme in Papua New Guinea team for the Sustainable Financing of Protected Areas Project, together with the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority, the 45 participants represented national and provincial governments, NGOs and private sector.

The results of this work will help strengthen enabling conditions for protected area management and financing in the country and build capacity of communities managing protected areas to receive more effective support.

“The aim of the institutional and regulatory review is to ensure that there is a common understanding and agreement on the roles and responsibilities of different institutions and the support functions that they provide to protected areas,” said UNDP Papua New Guinea Chief Technical Advisor, Dr. Andrew Rylance.

"This will enable the country’s network of protected areas to move toward a system approach to management and financing strengthening the efficient allocation and use of resources, in turn contributing to increased management effectiveness.”

The virtual workshop provided an opportunity for partners and stakeholders to identify gaps in legislative framework and institutional mandates that hinder effective protected area management and financing in Papua New Guinea, and further understanding of laws and policies that can be implemented for the protection of nature and biodiversity.

The UNDP/GEF project aims to reduce the funding gap for Papua New Guinea’s protected areas, improving management effectiveness and livelihoods of communal landowners.

Learn more: UNDP Sustainable Financing of Protected Areas project

"Curiosity has its own reason for existing"

Ms Michaelyn Wembi at UN75 Partnership Dialogue, APEC Haus, Port Moresby. Photo: UNDP Papua New Guinea/ Clive Hawigen

Why do we do the things we do to better ourselves and the society we live in? Ms Michaelyn Wembi has a curious mind and is always wanting to know more about what keeps the world turning.

One of her favourite quotes is by Albert Einstein: “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing”.

Ms Wembi’s role at UNDP Papua New Guinea Country Office provides administrative and programmatic support to ensure quality assurance to the UN-EU Spotlight Initiative, and the Governance Portfolio.

A recent graduate from the University of Papua New Guinea, with a Bachelor of Sustainable Development, she is eager to learn and build a career in sustainable development.

“I want to contribute however I can, to a sustainable future for Papua New Guinea where strong institutions exist, people are empowered enough to make informed decisions, where safety, security and freedom are a given.

“As a young national woman, working in a global organization and network of people that strives for sustainable development, I feel that I have contributed and however small my contributions may be, they matter,” Ms Wembi said.

She says graduating from university is something she is most proud of and attributes this achievement to her parents. “My parents both grew up and went to school in their villages, and persevered to give me a life of opportunities, with whatever little they had. I am forever grateful to them. They taught me perseverance, hard work, curiosity and independent decision making are critical in life.”

Michaelyn is from a mixed parentage of Manus and Southern Highlands Province and grew up in Port Moresby. She says working with UNDP has given her the opportunity and exposure to learn and build her skillsets - to help in her aspiration to become a sustainable development practitioner in the near future.


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