PAPUA New Guinea marks its independence this month, just weeks after the end of elections. This land of contrast with vast amounts of natural resources has been plagued by corruption and violence for decades. As this edition goes to print, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill faces leadership challenges despite his reelection.
Veteran Pacific journalist, JALE MOALA offers this insight into PNG, Land of the Unexpected. Today I bring you two photos to illustrate the complexities of Papua New Guinea. The first is inside the first gate of our living compound in Waigani, a suburb of Port Moresby that is the heart of the government and city administrations.
I took the photo at about 7.30pm on Friday July 7, 10 minutes after men armed with guns had forced their way into the outer perimeter of our compound and held up our security guards while the rest went after my neighbour as he sat in his car waiting for the second gate to open. They forced my neighbour out at gunpoint, took the car and disappeared into the night as quickly as they had come.
The US State Department says that the crime rate in PNG is among the highest in the world.
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A SENIOR regional diplomat has called for more cooperation at sub-regional level to create more efficient service delivery by regional organisations. Melanesian Spearhead Group DirectorGeneral, Ambassador Amenatave Yauvoli, said it was important for the Pacific to maximise the limited resources made available by donors.
Speaking at Pacific Community headquarters in Noumea, New Caledonia, Yauvoli called on regional leaders and agencies to deal with issues closer to the ground – at sub-regional level. “I note that you have indicated an ever increasing demand on our limited human and technical resources to follow the increasingly complex debate on climate change and I can sympathize with those concerns,” Yauvoli said.
“If there is one positive element that we can draw from this observation is Subhead: Diplomat calls for greater sub-regionalism Diplomat calls for greater sub-regionalism the recognition that our issue will need a global solution and the onus is on ourselves to ensure that we do engage where our priorities are and engage with them strategically.”
Yauvoli then moved to the issue of working in a cost-heavy region in which countries were separated by thousands of kilometres of ocean and travel was inhibited by high air fares.
A CONFERENCE being held in New York in June may seem to be of little interest to those in canoes or on beaches in the Pacific. “What’s this to do with me?” government officials, community leaders and fishers may well ask?
Well, within the package of actions being discussed at this event, called the Oceans Conference, is a series of globally agreed actions against some of the biggest problems facing island States. Problems of environmental degradation, illegal fishing and overfishing, access to markets, climate change, all issues affecting our oceans.
These issues are targeted within one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are part of the global 2030 Agenda, notably the specific goal for the oceans; SDG 14 “Life Below Water”. SDG 14 looks to “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”.
It’s a ‘development’ initiative, that offers timely momentum in strengthening global governance of activity that impacts ‘life below water’, and an opportunity to spur consensus building to reach agreements on what actions are needed for the oceans, with a special emphasis on supporting Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
THE regional free trade agreement, known as PACER-Plus was concluded last month in Brisbane, Australia. As usual, such events are met with great fan-fare and congratulatory press releases. New Zealand called the deal “historic”, the Office of the Chief Trade Advisor (OCTA) described it as a “landmark” deal, Australia went on to say that the increased trade will be “generating growth, jobs and raising living standards”.
Overshadowing all the praise was the elephant in the room, or more precisely the elephant not in the room. Papua New Guinea withdrew from the negotiations in 2016 citing the proposed agreement as a ‘net loss’ for PNG. Fiji, who had been harbouring concerns about the protections for its infant industries and their ability to pursue better trade deals with other countries, was also not in attendance apparently not for want of trying.
The absence of the two biggest Pacific Island economies cuts through the hyperbole of PACER-Plus exposing the ugly fact that if the two most developed Island countries aren’t able to benefit from the agreement then how will those with less capacity. PACER-Plus has never been about the Pacific despite the reassurances of Australia and New Zealand.
WHEN Pacific Islands Forum Leaders gathered in Apia, Samoa, in 1978, the then Prime Minister Honourable Tupuola Efi said: “The basic question that faces us, is that of deciding how to re-define the rules to assure that the rights of small nations are adequately protected.
The guts of the issue is that we are small. We have to define the rules as we see them to protect our interests”. Forty years on, these sentiments remain key to our regional development considerations, as economic and social developmental challenges, exacerbated by the impact of climate change, require innovative approaches in the design and implementation of economic policies.
They were at the heart of the recently concluded Pacific Islands Forum Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM) which was themed Finance for Development Solutions. Addressing economic vulnerabilities is crucial given the Pacific’s inherent geographical isolation and distance from major global markets, dispersed population across islands, and narrow economic bases.
While addressing barriers to inclusive progress has been a natural part of development efforts, Pacific Islands Forum Leaders and Ministers are also considering options for sustainable approaches to weaning themselves off external fund dependency, particularly in terms of disaster preparedness. A few days before the week-long 2017 FEMM, a new $USD29.73million regional.....