Tuesday, January 21, 2020

UN recognizes PNG’s climate initiatives

(The Article was first published in The National Newspaper)

At the panel discussion in New York, US on Nature Base Solution for climate change, NCD Governor Hon. Powes Parkop delivered his keynote speech to the following effect. The Governor of PNG’s capital city Port Moresby was in New York with the PNG delegation on climate change UN Summit.

Powes Parkop with Ms Inger Anderson, Executive Director of United Nations Environmental Programmes in New York after the panel session.
“As a former environmentalist and human rights activists, I take issue of climate crisis most seriously at heart. It is absolutely critical that we all work together at all levels to address the common challenge facing us globally,” Mr Parkop told the fellow panelists. 

“There are a number of pertinent facts that places our country in this critical global effort to mitigate and reserve the effect of climate change. Firstly, our tidal waters are rising at double the global average. Many tribes and clans still live on the ocean and off the great rivers of our country,” the governor said. “PNG is one of the first countries in the world to have environmental refugees due to sea level rising and sinking of islands. We are a living proof that climatic change is real.

Secondly, PNG waters are part of the Coral Triangle, the area of world’s highest known marine biological diversity. Its coral reefs and associated marine habitant are home to 2,800 species of fishes, about 10% of the world total. If we don’t save these coral reefs and marine life, the world loses 10 percent of this world’s rare jewel. It will also have effect on tuna stock in the world too where we have 25 percent of the world tuna found in our waters,” he added.

“Thirdly and very importantly, PNG is home of the third largest intact remaining tropical forests in the world, and 10% of the world’s biodiversity. That makes our island nation an important voice at the UN Climate change table.

While forests of the Amazon burn, so too are our forests threatened. PNG has the highest endemic mammals globally, and as such, when a species becomes extinct, it is likely to become extinct globally.

However, like rainforests around the world, which now cover just 6% of the Earth’s surface, PNG’s wilderness is being threatened not only by logging interests but mining and agricultural plantations, especially palm oil, found in cosmetics, processed foods, biofuels and pharmaceuticals, amongst other uses. However, by far and large our forests remain intact although vulnerable,” he added.

“We need urgent global support to maintain them as they are not just ours but also belongs to the indigenous people and life on the planet earth.  

PNG might be small country in size, population, technology and economy but in the global challenge to mitigate and reserve the effect of climatic change, we can play a bigger role, we already played and we need global support and help. We need real effort to make forest carbon stocks trading real so we can conserve and preserve the third of the world’s oxygen (lungs); we need support to make re-forestation real, we need real effort to control sea level rising and a lot more and it has to happen now, as a matter of emergency. 

In Port Moresby, urbanization is transforming our city. In 2014, population in Port Moresby was 400 thousand, today it is close to one million. Small, by comparison to the mega cities of the world, but still faced with an affordable housing crisis with bulging informal settlements where nearly a third of city resident dwell, a huge population of unemployed youth; and where infrastructure, and basic services are challenged.    

In the city, we have made a commitment we will plant and nurture one million trees a year -  one tree for each person. As a growing city, we do our part by planting trees to lower the temperature of the earth and we need global support to enhance our efforts.   

We are looking at re-planting our mangroves, and cleaning the plastics and pollution from our rivers and tidal waters near Port Moresby.

PNG is ready, amazing Port Moresby is ready – we are ready. But we need to work together. PNG, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the countries that are host to the Amazon – we are developing nations. We must work together.

Think of it this way. The United Nations controls one third of the global economy. Well, PNG controls one third of the world’s lungs. Without the global economy, we can still survive – without the lungs of the planet earth we cannot survive.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has formerly accepted PNG’s Climate Roadmap and Action Initiatives at the Compendium of the Nature Based Solutions (NBS).  The announcement of the formal recognition at the NBS Momentum High Level event during the 27th United Nation General Assembly Annual General-UNGA Meeting in New York.

 The NBS Momentum High Level event was convened by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, featuring Heads of State and Ministers, and leaders from international organizations, civil society, private sector, youth and indigenous peoples, among other key stakeholders.

In preparing of the September 2019 Climate Action Summit called by UN Secretary-General, the NBS Coalition put out a global call for initiatives on how NBS can be enhanced and scaled-up.

The call attracted 450 initiatives globally, however only 180 proposals were received and posted online prior to the summit in which PNG’s three initiatives were all considered and accepted. 

The three initiatives include;

  1. Sustainable Forest Management – Sustainable Land Use Planning, Forest Management and Improved Agri-culture Practice.
  2. Fossil Fuel abatement for diesel based power systems, and action to implement SDG 13 through Sustainable Electricity in PNG.
  3. Scaling up of hydropower/solar energy in PNG.

“This is a tremendous achievement of PNG in the UN Summit on Climate Action. The initiatives will set the scene and offers opportunities for PNG to leverage support to implement these initiatives,” Minister for Environment and Conservation and Climate Change Hon. Jeffery Kama said when hearing the announcement.

Head of the PNG Delegation to UN Climate Action Summit in New York and Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon. Soroi Eoi said this is actually what we are here for and this also paves the way and have shown leadership in the region that we as a country with the largest population and vast natural forests have shown to the global community that we are serious in addressing climate change.

“This is a major achievement to have the initiative package and presented to the world for support and investment into initiatives that are applicable and scalable to all parts of the country,” Minister Soroi Eoi added.

Until then next week, we look at another piece of the good work CCDA and stakeholders are doing for PNG to combat climate crisis.

 *Peter Solo Kinjap is a REDD+ advocacy on climate change mitigation with Travel4Green (T4G) PNG, email: contact@t4gpng.org 

Governor powes Parkop with Ms. Maimunah Mold Shariff, Executive Director for United Nations Habitat in New York.

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