The Government of Papua New Guinea through the Department of Environment and Conservation has signed a new partnership with the world’s oldest and largest conservation network - IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The Memorandum of Understanding signed last week, seals a long term partnership that will assist the Government of PNG to secure and manage its unique and globally important biodiversity resources and find solutions to engage communities to effectively manage their natural resources.
PNG, a biodiversity hot spot, has some of the largest intact ecosystems in the region including the largest rainforest in the Asia Pacific region, significant inland river systems and diverse coral reef systems. This natural heritage is intertwined with the cultures and traditions of a population of six million with over 800 languages – one third of the world’s languages.
IUCN brings value as a global membership-based organization that includes governments, NGOs and expertize that can assist existing partners and support government and civil society led initiatives.
The Department of Environment and Conservation realizes that at this time when the economy is booming from mining and gas, management of PNG’s environment and natural resources is paramount if the nation is to achieve sustainable development.
“This is another step in the government’s vision for sustainable development and finding solutions to ensure long-term management of our natural ecosystems by our landowning communities. We need to find new and innovative ways to engage communities and this partnership with IUCN is a step in that direction,” says Minister for Environment and Conservation, Hon John Pundari.
The partnership commits IUCN to assisting the PNG government in several ways including the development of the new Conservation and Environment Protection Authority, financing mechanisms for biodiversity, environmental law capacity, conservation strategies for endangered species, and engagement of civil society and private sector and other areas of common interest.
IUCN Oceania Regional Director, Taholo Kami, recognizes the opportunity for PNG’s economic boom to provide the platform for a “green economy” saying “we need an economy that is inclusive and values our cultures and traditions and our natural ecosystems - we must get past the old paradigm of a “dual economy”.
Kami adds that past economic models ignored the values entrenched in the subsistence society – the wealth in cultures, tradition and nature.
IUCN looks forward to a long term presence in PNG working with government, civil society and communities. Through this MOU, IUCN will also explore options to setup a country office in PNG.