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Port Moresby, 23 November 2017 – Papua New Guinea (PNG) is known for its diverse, pristine natural environment and equally rich culture. This keeps the people inherently attached to their land as well as its natural features. The nation is one of the most naturally rich and diverse of any in the world, containing a remarkable 7% of the world’s biodiversity in just 1% of the Earth’s land mass.

The level of threats that these unique and fragile ecosystems are facing has continued to concern PNG’s Minister for Environment, Conservation and Climate Change, Honourable John Pundari and many citizens. It is for this reason that the country has been working to ensure that the country maintains and preserves its ‘strategic natural resources’ as key assets.

At the COP23 Side Event on 16 November, 2017, Minister Pundari, referring to how REDD+ can contribute to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and delivering National Determined Contribution (NDC) goals stated:

“Our National Goal under the PNG’s Constitution says: We declare our fourth goal to be for Papua New Guinea's natural resources and environment to be conserved and used for the collective benefit of us all, and be replenished for the benefit of future generations. These impacts collectively damage the national environment and long-term development, with the unsustainable harvesting of resources a theft from our children who will no longer be able to rely on their wealth and the protection our natural resources provide.”

The unsustainable management of natural wealth is already having ramifications at the local, national and global scale. Poorly managed mining development has resulted in the wholesale destruction of entire watercourses, poisoning wildlife and the surrounding forest, and endangering the communities that rely on river systems.

The PNG Government has affirmed its commitment to achieving sustainable management through key national strategies and policies including:

  •        Vision 2050 (to conserve 70% of PNG’s forest for carbon purposes);
  •        PNG’s National Climate Change Action Plan (50% in reduction in emissions by 2030 and for the country to be carbon neutral by 2050);
  •        Climate Change (Management) Act (Gazettal Notice No. G22);
  •        Implementation Act of Paris Agreement (October 2016) and the Nationally Determined Contributions; and
  •        Endorsement of the National REDD+ Strategy.

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Photos: Minister for Environment, Conservation and Climate Change, Hon. John Pundari speaking to participants at the COP23 Side Event 

These plans set out ambitious targets for the protection of forests and the management of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. Minister Pundari said, “The approach to REDD+ is not just about forests or climate change but about a broad approach to development that is central to the concepts of both climate compatible and responsible and sustainable development that are presented in the Climate Compatible Development Policy and the StaRS (PNG’s National Strategy for Responsible Sustainable Development) that provides a critical opportunity for PNG in our efforts to strengthen and conserve biodiversity as well as manage our environment as part of a green development pathway.”

The Minister urged national and international community, donors, government agencies, the private sector and civil society groups to see this achievement as the beginning of the next phase of the work.

“We must bring together our existing efforts, skills, and experience, while also accessing climate finance and technical support to ensure we can achieve the transformational change that our nation needs and that our people and the environment deserve,” said the Minister.

Watch: A short documentary of PNG’s efforts to tackle climate change

 
 
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