Nick:

This is a great article by Tanya Zeriga-Alone on her blog Emnaupng on the government’s need for foresight to plan and strategise now to be ready for natural disasters in future, especially with the ever increasing threat of the negative effects of Climate Change

Originally posted on Emnaupng's Blog:

There was a little news article in The National Newspaper from the 20th Sept., 2012, which I thought was the most important news article of the day. However, that was all it was – a small article on page 7.

The Deputy Prime Minister,  Hon. Leon Dion was briefed on the findings by a report on the Risk Assessment of Catastrophes in the Pacific. The reported states that, in the next 50 years, PNG is expected to incur loss exceeding US$700 million with casualties over 5,000 from natural disasters.

In PNG, we expect disasters and losses, however, we never monetize the costs of disasters. When we do, as was done in that report, and compare with the money we have, we begin to realize how unprepared we really are to future natural disasters. The disasters, when compounded with the unpredictable impacts of climate change – the cost as well…

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A diary entry

The chilly afternoon breeze hung still in the air, but the bamboo plants continued to swing and sway on, as if enchanted by the rhythmic thumping of the Kundu drums that seeped down the slopes of Dea village – muffled. This seemed to add a special, yet fitting blend to the homely cacophony, typical of most Papua New Guinean villages at dusk as they prepare to roost for the night.

It had been a full day’s walk from Afore station, that its romantic charm was lost on me as I reached down for the last vestige of my strength to heave myself and my rucksack up the last 300 metres of a muddy, cratered road to reach my destination in a state of almost utter wreck.

I silently swore never to touch another Big Rooster ‘Lunch-box’ as I lay gasping in a reckless heap, catching my breath in grateful gulps and slowly relishing the cool air brought about by this respite.

That was Sunday June 5 of this year – the official World Environment Day, as I arrived at Dea Primary School, rounding off my World Environment Day visit to schools on the Managalas Plateau; high up in the volcanic rich south-eastern highlands of Oro Province.

As a community oriented environmental organisation, the commemoration of World Environment Day is a major event on the activity calendar of Partners with Melanesians (PWM).This patrol was an activity that was planned, not only to engage the children and the community in environmental awareness, but to gauge their understanding of the key issues that we continuously try to broach in our education-awareness and consensus building activities.

Students from the remote Gora Primary School were the only ones who showed up in full uniform and had this banner hand printed. Impressive, uh!

Beginning six days earlier on the lower flood plains near the coast, I made my first port of call at Emo Primary School which is about 2 hours drive off the main highway at Oro Bay. There I met some very generous people who put me up for the night.

The next day was spent going through their program and mingling with children and the locals before I hit the road again in the afternoon to find St Dunstan Primary School on the banks of the Pongani River a day later. We had a similar session at Pongani.

With these two schools located far outside of PWM’s project site, I wanted to use this opportunity to see how well these communities knew about sound environmental practises and their grasp on the idea of the conservation of natural resources. It was quite confronting to note that such information was greatly lacking, not only in the schools but in the surrounding communities. This was a challenge that I made sure to note down for my future education and awareness endeavours.

To make matters worse, both these schools like most low-lying areas of Oro, had felt the full brunt of Cyclone Guba not more than four years ago. With the service delivery mechanism of that province in a constant state of limbo, the infrastructure of these schools, among other basic services still had not seen even a hint of the much-hyped restoration funds.

Teacher shortage was another major issue they had to contend with. This problem, I discovered to my dismay in my conversations with the teachers, was more widespread throughout Oro Province.

After Pongani the plan was to make a quick sidetrack into Bareji High School. However, the weather thought otherwise as the rush of a flooded Pongani River put an end to that part of my plan. I was sadly left with the only option of forgoing that school altogether and instead head straight for Afore. Here I was fortunate enough to hitch a ride with a coffee-buyer, saving me another day of walking. Phew…

Friday was business as usual as I paid a visit to Afore Primary School who had scheduled their WED celebrations on the 3rd of June along with their feeder elementary schools.

The entire population of students, like the two previous schools I had visited, were buzzing with excitement to make their mark on World Environment Day. One could not miss the enthusiasm in the eyes of the children as they went through the day presenting their songs, dances, poems and essays, as well as exhibitions of samples of flora and fauna found in their area.

All activities culminated with a MR & Miss Environment pageant where the entrants came dressed in their traditional gear. After all was said and done everyone gathered for a combined lunch, topping off a very satisfying day.

A day later I again took to the road for Dea. That was where the biggest party was happening. Three primary schools – Dea, Koruwo and Gora along with all their feeder elementary schools had all scheduled for a combined event the next day on the 6th day of June 2011.

After the turnout from schools and their local community in previous days, I had no doubt Dea would come out even bigger and better, being a combined event. Slated for that day were even more singsings, tree-planting, debates, theatre plays and singing followed by the complementary pig-killing ceremony afterwards.

I was still catching my breath from the climb when my attention was suddenly arrested by the shrill voice of the young female dancers, as the tapa cloth clad dance troupe entered the clearing, their voices riding high over the synchronised beats of the lizard-skin drums. The men, with their arching bodies and feathered headdresses, in an almost regal poise, nodded in tandem to the beat as they lay their baritone timbre to their songs.

The singsong chants reverberated into the surrounding hills of Dea, summoning the late afternoon mist to slowly descend into the village. With it came the chattered chorus of cicadas as if in reprisal to the dancers’ songs, signalling the end to another day.

That was magic enough for a city slicker as all the weariness and pain were allowed to dissipate into the cool of an Oro night as previews of the morrow quickly faded in my mind as I wound down for the day.

Ese!!

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Posted by rait man of ACT NOW!
The article below, by Kenn Mondiai, Chair of the PNG Eco-Forestry Forum, is about the dangers of suppressing freedom of speech and the need to protect whistleblowers. It is a response to the news the Board of NASFUND has offered a K50,000 reward for information ‘leading to the identification, arrest and prosecution’ of the authors and publishers of ‘factually incorrect, malicious and defamatory’ statements on PNG Blogs.
Kenn Mondiai

In Papua New Guinea we are fortunate to have freedom of speech and the media is free to write and the commentaries also have that great flexibility to say what they think is not right and offer options and alternatives.

We at PNG Eco-forestry Forum have our own website (www.ecoforestry.org.pg) and we have been speaking out about illegal logging, unsustainable forest management, poor governance, abuse of human rights and other issues.

No-one including the government tried to stop us or suppress us directly, although we have recently heard about government plans to regulate NGO work in PNG; since we are genuine in what we do and say it’s unlikely an action will occur now, but in the future maybe if NGOs become unreasonable and driven by people with ulterior motives.

So far we have fully used the media well to do our work for the common good of our nation, our people and our natural resources and PNGEFF as a Papua New Guinean national umbrella NGO are proud of this media freedom.

We were challenged once in the Courts along with the Post Courier by  logging interests, that is Rimbunan Hijau, but the TRUTH remained and we still stand today doing our job to educate the people of PNG about what is RIGHT and what is WRONG by exposing WRONGS in an HONEST and TRUTHFULL way and then also providing alternatives as possible solutions.

So, whoever that brought out the message on NASFUND’s decision in whichever media that gave the message out is only trying to educate the public about what is NOT RIGHT and why it is WRONG, (I have not seen that messages), but is also true that no false information should be added and it should not in anyway be defamatory on persons related to that decision.

So don’t panic, just see how best your organisation (NASFUND in this case) can improve on it’s failures and address the concerns raised.

NASFUND recently, according to the newspapers, made some bad decisions about members money, we thought these issues were sorted out when the Govt ammended the Super Funds Acts, but it seems NOT, so they must fix it. I am not a member of NASFUND, but if I was, I will not hide my name under a Blog but will honestly speak my mind in the media or I can talk directly to Ian Tarutia and Rod Mitchell directly as I know both very well.

With this reward of K50,000 put up by NASFUND I think it is in a way or rather a step closer to Suppressing the Freedom of Speech, not by government but by the private sector, by the imposition of a monetary reward on peolple trying to express their rights on issues.

For the public and NGOs, whilst we have that freedom of speech, again we must take caution in what one says in the media, say the truth and provide options for a good outcome and don’t add salt or sugar to your stories.

Don’t be like the politicians trying to suppress media and freedom of speech in this country when their bad decisions and weaknesses are exposed and in reaction for their guilt they go to the media issuing all kinds of threats about controlling and regulating NGOs and the media.

Yupela yet skelim na tingim em tru o giaman !!!

The Alarming Social and Environmental Impacts of Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABLs) in Papua New Guinea

In March 2011, a large group of environmental and social scientists, natural-resource managers and nongovernmental-organization staff from Papua New Guinea and other nations met at James Cook University in Cairns, Queensland, Australia to discuss the future management and conservation of Papua New Guinea’s native forests. We reached a strong consensus on the need to halt the granting of Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABLs).

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is among the most biologically and culturally diverse nations on Earth. PNG’s remarkable diversity of cultural groups rely intimately on their traditional lands and forests in order to meet their needs for farming plots, forest goods, wild game, traditional and religious sites, and many other goods and services. Nearly all of PNG’s land area is presently occupied or claimed by one or more of its traditional indigenous communities.

Papua New Guinea traditionally has had strong indigenous land ownership, which is enshrined in its national constitution. Over the past two decades, the country has experienced a dramatic increase in industrial logging, mining, natural-gas projects and other large-scale developments, and the formal permission of a majority of traditional local land-owners is required for such projects to proceed.

Unfortunately, abuses of trust with local communities have occurred far too often, especially with respect to the SABLs. SABLs greatly diminish the rights of traditional owners for long periods of time while promoting industrial-scale logging, deforestation for oil palm plantations, or other extractive uses. Most of these industrial uses are dominated by foreign or multinational corporations.

In 2010 alone, 2.6 million hectares of SABLs were granted, all for protracted 99-year terms, bringing the area of land alienated from customary owners in PNG to over 5 million hectares. These Leases frequently appear to have been made without the prior knowledge and informed consent of the majority of customary owners, alienating for several generations the lands on which they depend and have long relied.

It is our understanding that government authorizations to clear native forests, known as Forest Clearing Authorities, have been issued for approximately 2 million hectares of forest in existing SABLs, much of which is of outstanding biological and cultural significance. We believe that these Authorities will promote the exploitation of native forest resources by foreign interests without requiring them to comply with existing forestry regulations in PNG. In this sense, SABLs are a clear effort to circumvent prevailing efforts to reform the forestry industry in PNG, which has long been plagued by allegations of mismanagement and corruption. They also are clearly designed to promote industrial developments on an unprecedented scale within PNG while diminishing the rights of traditional land-owners.

For these reasons, we urge the Government of Papua New Guinea to (1) declare and enforce an immediate moratorium on the creation of new SABLS, (2) halt the issuing of new Forest Clearing Authorities, and (3) declare a temporary moratorium on the implementation of existing Forest Clearing Authorities. These steps should commence immediately while a thorough, transparent and independent review of the legality and constitutionality of these Leases and Authorities is undertaken.

Raising the living standards of the people of Papua New Guinea is an urgent goal that will require the sustainable exploitation of the country’s natural resources and the development of viable domestic industries. However, development needs to be undertaken in sympathy with the customary landownership embodied in the PNG Constitution. It must also operate in concert with ongoing efforts to limit rampant and often predatory industrial exploitation of the country’s forests, lands and other natural resources, which far too often fail to yield fair or equitable benefits for the majority of PNG citizens. This is the interest not only of the majority of PNG nationals, but also of those businesspeople who are presently operating responsibly in PNG.

We agree with the need for sustainable economic development, and to achieve this a comprehensive land-use plan, based on participatory land-use agreements, is clearly needed. Only then can the sustainable economic, social and environmental benefits of Papua New Guinea’s enormous natural wealth be secured for its people.

 

Respectfully endorsed by:

Damien Ase
Executive Director, Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR),
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

William F. Laurance, Ph.D.
Distinguished Research Professor & Australian Laureate
Prince Bernhard Chair in International Nature Conservation
James Cook University, Cairns, Australia

Yati A. Bun
Executive Director, Foundation for People and Community Development in Papua New Guinea,
Boroko, Papua New Guinea

Kenn Mondiai
Executive Director, Partners with Melanesians,
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Vojtech Novotny, Ph.D.
Director, New Guinea Binatang Research Centre,
Madang, Papua New Guinea

Colin Filer, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Australian National University,
Canberra, Australia

Rod Keenan, Ph.D.
Professor of Forestry, University of Melbourne,
Melbourne, Australia

Michael Bird, Ph.D., FRSE
Distinguished Professor and Federation Fellow, James Cook University,
Cairns, Australia

Thomas Paka
Executive Director, PNG Ecoforestry Forum,
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Nigel Stork, Ph.D.
Professor and Head of School, University of Melbourne,
Melbourne, Australia

David Mitchell
Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea

Zachary Wells
Tree Kangaroo Conservation Programme,
Lae, Papua New Guinea

Colin Hunt, Ph.D.
School of Economics, University of Queensland,
Brisbane, Australia

Francis Hurahura
The Nature Conservancy: PNG,
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Michael Wood, Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer, James Cook University,
Cairns, Australia

Paul Winn
Greenpeace Australia Pacific,
Sydney, Australia

Peter Hitchcock, Ph.D.
Founding Director (Emeritus), Wet Tropics Management Authority,
Cairns, Australia

Andrew Krockenberger, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, James Cook University,
Cairns, Australia

Quentin Reilly, M.D., DPH, MBBS
Specialist Health Consultant, Former District Health Officer,
Manus Province, Papua New Guinea

Susan Laurance, Ph.D.
Tropical Leader and Senior Lecturer, James Cook University,
Cairns, Australia

Damien Settle
Faculty of Science and Engineering, James Cook University,
Cairns, Australia

Mark Baumgarten
Conservation International: Asia-Pacific,
Cairns, Australia

Mark Ziembicki, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Researcher, James Cook University,
Cairns, Australia

Ross Sinclair, Ph.D.
Director, Wildlife Conservation Society PNG Programme,
Goroka, Papua New Guinea

Lance Hill, Ph.D.
Professor, James Cook University,
Cairns, Australia

Michelle Venter, M.Sc.
Doctoral Candidate, James Cook University,
Cairns, Australia

Press Release: Released at 10 AM, Thur 20/01/11, BTA Office, Waigani, NCD

NATIONAL Environment and community development NGO, Partners with Melanesians affirmed their support for Bulolo MP Sam Basil who took the court injunction against Morobe Mining Joint Venture for environmental pollution of the Watut River.

They follow in support of Basil’s call for people with personal and ulterior motives to cease from obstructing him in his constitutional right to speak up for the people that he has been mandated to represent. If more than 100 sensible and thinking leaders support Mr Basil’s move then those selfish and greedy leaders who are obstructing Mr Basil should be ashamed and refrain from obstructing Mr Basil and his lawyers.

What’s happening along the Watut River is a clear indication of the beginning of many big things to come. We do not have to look far to see evidence of such impacts on the natural environmental and its people. The most notable ones include Tolukuma, Ok Tedi and the Jaba River in Panguna, Bougainville.

After 27 years experience of working with the rural village communities of Papua New Guinea, PWM knows full well the impacts of such extractive industries on their livelihood, especially mining.

The more than 18000 people living in the Managalas Plateau within the Afore Sub-district of the Oro Province have strongly objected to logging, forestry, mining and oil palm extension. MRA and the Department of Mining and Petroleum have issued three (3) exploration licenses to an Australian mining company, Gold Minex for a mining lease covering the entire Managalas Plateau which was done without a proper consultation process. However the 152 clan groups of the Managalas Plateau stand firm objecting mining exploration on their land.

It is important that the land owners of PNG need to know about the negative impacts of such destructive activities, which among others include, soil and water pollution, loss of land and biodiversity, skin disease and other health related issues, as well as the deterioration of the social and cultural fabric of those societies living within the vicinity of mine sites throughout PNG.

Successive governments over the years have failed to not only educate these landowners but have denied them the right to a safer and healthier future through sustainable management and use of their natural resources.

Mr. Kenn Mondiai
Executive Director – Partners with Melanesians, Inc.

[ Partners with Melanesians is a member of The Papua New Guinea Eco-Forestry Forum www.ecoforestry.org.pg ]

If this is not pollution then what is, Mr Allen*?

photo courtesy of Hon Sam Basil 2010

 *Mr Benny Allen is the Minister for Environment & Conservation (at the time of this post).

Look at the gleeful grin on her face. Yes that woman with that wide smile is Federica Bieatta, and she is supposed to be PNG’s representative as co-chair on special REDD Partnership Negotiations? It is obvious she doesn’t even have any idea at all what the Golden Chainsaw Award is all about or else she wouldn’t be smiling that openly. Or does she have other reasons behind that wide grin?

So i ask, what does an Italian woman who has never set foot in Papua New Guinea, much less know where in PNG places like Aitape, Kamulo Doso or even Collingwood Bay is located, know about the interests of this sovereign nation? Something is seriously out of order in this picture, wouldn’t you agree?

Now, read on the post by Sam Moko of Greenpeace who is pictured below handing the award over to PNG’s latest sensation since Kevin Conrad stole the show in Bali . Yeah keep that smile on, madam!

Papua New Guinea Awarded Golden Chainsaw Award! | Greenpeace International.

Blogpost by Sam Moko – October 25, 2010 at 10:16 AM 1 comment

Sam Moko (right) presents Federica Bietta, Papua New Guinea's representative to forests and climate negotiations with Greenpeace's "Golden Chainsaw" award in Nagoya, Japan this morning

Today I gave Greenpeace’s Golden Chainsaw award to the representative of the Government of PNG at talks on REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestaion and Degradation) taking place here in Nagoya. The government representative’s name is Federica Bietta and she is also representing PNG as co-chair on special REDD Partnership negotiations with stakeholders, including NGOs like Greenpeace.

Myself and the team, including a photographer from Tokyo, got up early to make sure we wouldn’t miss Ms Bietta for the 8am stakeholders meeting at the hotel. We all had to study pictures of Bietta, so we could recognise her, since none of us had seen her before and we needed to spot her right away. I’ve been working on forestry in PNG for 9 years and I’ve yet to meet her. Today was a good opportunity to meet her face to face – after all, she is the face of PNG for these important talks on climate and forests.

She seemed very happy to meet me and receive the award- but really it’s sad and unfortunate for the government of PNG to win Greenpeace’s Golden Chainsaw award – which is normally reserved for illegal and destructive logging companies.

Throughout the past 6 months the Govt of PNG, led by Ms Bietta has continually tried to stop NGO participation in REDD talks.

Greenpeace released today a report entitled: Papua New Guinea: Not ready for REDD. It details how PNG is failing the REDD progress and the steps the government must take to improve. You can read the full report here.

Essentially it says that PNG is not ready to receive funding for REDD because corruption and illegal logging continue to be major problems in PNG and indigenous peoples’ rights are being abused.

I was invited last week to give a presentation at Ministerial talks on REDD happening tomorrow but today found out that I would not be able to speak. I can’t help but think that this is PNG’s doing. Last night we met with officials from another country who told us: “There are 60 countries party to the REDD talks and 59 of them are welcoming of NGO participation” It was clear who she meant.

~.~
Sam Moko is an avid forest campaigner working with Greenpeace PNG Office.

It has been well over a year now for me at this job and I have found it to be nothing short of an eye opener for me, working in the conservation NGO circle. One interesting aspect of this job is the occasional travel to our project sites. Seeing new places and just getting away from the hectic 8-5 raucous affair that is life in the city.  Breaking this monotony is refreshing and enriching.

It’s then that every so often I get to meet some genuine people out there who are keeping it real, putting in the hard yards to help out their communities. Be it either in education or in administering health care to the sick and needy, at often times sacrificing their own comfort for others, impassive to the pressing demands of fast money, televangelists,  bubblegum music and the pursuit of opulence evident in urban centres. To them the bare essentials are what really matters.

Chris and the syllabus chart he had drawn up himself which is comprised of 19 characters out of the 26 letters of the English alphabet.

One such person I recently bumped into is Christopher Asiurina of Ogana village near Afore in the Managalas Plateau of Oro Province. Chris happens to be a Sunday school teacher, a community youth leader, a community basic constable (CBC), a peer educator and an adult literacy teacher – all volunteer work.

Going as far as Grade 8, he happens to be the only person from his clan and village to reach such a level of education. In his incessant quest to help out his community and church activities he went out of his way to buy 2 guitars for his village church congregation out of what little money he could find.

His drive was given a boost when he was taken up by Anglicare StopAIDS to undergo literacy training to translate HIV/AIDS information material into his local dialect. Using this knowledge he was able to draw up a syllabus chart for his dialect which he uses to conduct adult literacy classes in Ogana and Afore village where he’s already had a classroom built. He has 19 students, all of whom are within the 30 to 40 years age group and his initiative has enabled them to go on to read their local language bible.

His adult literacy program has had such a profound impact on the villagers, he said “Fest taim ol ridim tok ples blo ol yet na ol karai” (they cried when they were able to read in their own language for the first time).

More people from surrounding communities have since expressed their interest for him to conduct similar classes in their villages but he is hampered by need for stationary supplies and training for his 4 volunteer assistants.

This I believe is my cue. I have been looking for such opportunities to tap into to reach directly to the locals on our project site with our message of conservation and environmental awareness.  I have been fortunate enough to meet this young men and I am looking to collaborate with him in getting these vital information to a level where our village people can understand at their level.

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