National Strategy for Responsible Sustainable Development for Papua New Guinea
The Vision 2050 aimed at positioning PNG to be among the top 50 countries on Human Development Index by 2050, while the Development Strategic Plan is aimed at achieving the status of a prosperous middle income country by 2030.
It is apparent that except for Vision 2050 and DSP 2010-2030, all the strategies and plans were focussed on achieving short-term growth and development. But, as directed by the national constitution, we need to focus on long term development for achieving growth, equity and sustainability for the benefit of our present and future generations.
Long term sustainability requires that more attention be paid to the responsible management and use of our natural resources. The nonrenewable natural resources, such as, minerals (gold, copper, etc.) are in fixed quantity. Excessive extraction of these resources led by foreign companies leads to their exhaustion leaving nothing for our future generations. Similarly, our renewable resources, such as, forest, fishery and coral reefs also needs to be used responsibly without exploiting them beyond their critical biological re-generational limits for their sustainability.
PNG has the third largest tropical forest in the world. However, in recent years, this resource has been rapidly declining because of excessive logging by foreign companies, conversion of forest land into agricultural land, and by fires. Similarly, over 500,000 tonnes of fish is extracted every year for domestic consumption and export. Not enough research has been conducted to understand the critical biological re-generational limits of our fish stocks.
PNG has several big and small rivers with potential for the generation of hydro-electricity. It also has tropical sun, wind, bio-gas and geothermal resources to produce clean energy. Yet less than 15% of the population have access to electricity.
According to Hon. Charles Abel, MP and former Minister for National Planning and Monitoring, the previous strategies, plans and vision are not strategic enough to lead the country towards a responsible, sustainable and equitable future. In 2009, he said “we need to outline the vision that we seek, i.e., a country with a small, healthy and educated population enjoying a sustainable access to modern comforts supported by a new economy based on carbon credits, biodiversity and medical research, cultural and environmental tourism, and limited resource extraction under a new regime of improved value to the country”.
A lot of people and politicians in PNG, including the present and former Prime Ministers as well as academics share the views of Minister Abel. They want a responsible sustainable use of the natural and cultural resources of the country for the benefit of the present and future generations.
At the formation of the O’Neill-Dion Government in Alotau, after the 2012 elections, 78 key priorities were identified and agreed upon as Alotau Accord for implementation during its five-year term in office (2013-2017). One of the priorities of the Accord is the review of the current PNG Development Strategic Plan (DSP) 2010-2030 developed by Department of National Planning and Monitoring. This is an activity the O’Neill-Dion Government intended to undertake during the first 18 months of its term. This activity is also one of the 16 major activities of the Government in the 2013 National Government Critical Activity Matrix.
The DSP 2030 is designed to translate the focus areas of PNG Vision 2050 into concise directions for socio-economic development, spelling out sector interventions with clear objectives, quantitative targets, and baseline indicators.
However, from a strategic strength, weakness, opportunities and threat (SWOT) analysis, it is not strategic enough since it does not prescribe a road map that builds on PNG’s unique natural and cultural resources. In the DSP, even the strategic importance of the assets and strengths of the country in the current rapidly changing global environment were not given the recognition they deserved. Instead the plan prescribed a growth strategy that simply followed a consumption driven natural resources intensive high carbon producing ‘brown’ economic growth path that the industrialized world followed.
This type of growth strategy does not provide the development platform for PNG to develop itself into a competitive advantageous positioning globally and hence the need to rethink the development strategy for the country.
Strategic planning doctrine requires the identification of strategic issues within as well as external to the country, and developing appropriate policy responses to address them. The framing of the National Strategy for Responsible Sustainable Development (StaRS) in 2013 is this response.
The central theme of this new development road map presented by StaRS is to shift the country’s socio-economic growth away from the current unsustainable growth strategy that it is following and towards a road map that is truly responsible, sustainable and able to place PNG in a competitive, advantageous position into the future.
The current strategy of over reliance on nonrenewable energy and resource use shows positive GDP growth in the national balance sheet but, is carbon producing ‘brown’ or ‘dirty’ economic growth path, that contributes to increased global warming and climate change with its many negative effects such as; rising sea level and drowning of low level islands and coastal areas, and downgrading of environmental health and well-being of our citizen and biodiversity. This is clearly irresponsible and unsustainable.
The StaRS therefore, calls for a paradigm shift towards a sustainable clean energy and resource using low or zero carbon-generating ‘green’ or ‘clean’ inclusive economic growth path aimed at strengthen PNG’s strategic positioning and economic competitiveness in the world, while at the same time able to contribute to a high quality and better life for all Papua New Guineans now and in the future.
According to United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) ‘a green economy is one that results in improved human well-being and social equity while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities’. In its simplest expression, a green economy is one that is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive.
Greening of economy is not a drag on economic growth but rather a new engine for growth. It is a net generator of decent jobs, and is also a vital strategy for the elimination of poverty and the achievement of development goals such as Millennium Development Goals, human development and sustainable development goals.
Investment is needed to create decent jobs and increased income in environmentally significant sectors such as: • Renewable energy: Hydro, Solar, Wind, Bio-gas, biodiesel and geothermal, Green agriculture, Sustainable fisheries development, Sustainable use of water resources for domestic consumption, export and irrigation, Conservation of forest and biodiversity, Cultural and eco-tourism, Greening of transport system, Waste management, Small and medium enterprise development, and Greening of buildings, cities and towns.
Growth in income and employment in a green economy is driven by public and private investments that reduce carbon emissions and pollutions, enhance energy and resource efficiency, and prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Green growth or sustainable development increases the efficient and productive use of strategic resources such as energy and the environment; improves environmental health and well-being of human beings and biodiversity; identifies green business opportunities and policy responses that lead to increases in output, employment and income in the green sectors. This means skilful and innovative investments in our resources and environmental sectors to achieve responsible sustainable development outcomes.
Equity and justice is enhanced through improved access to green jobs by the poor, income generating opportunities, health, education, skills development, potable water, sanitation (improved toilet facility) and protection and sustainable use of natural resources. The StaRS is the policy shift in long term planning to guide the actions of current and future governments to position PNG towards attaining the following goals: Being a leader in the promotion and establishment of the responsible sustainable development paradigm, Be a prosperous middle income country by 2030, and Be among the top 50 countries on Human Development Index by 2050.
This new perspective acknowledges that the medium term development challenges require some reliance on the exploitation of primary resources to fund the investment needed for an inclusive and innovative green economic growth as well as in education, health and law and order sectors. It introduces three enabling dimensions that are essential for transitioning from the brown driven growth to inclusive green growth. These are: A national green growth plan to create enabling conditions, Green growth main streaming mechanisms to ensure opportunities are explored through existing economic activities, and Green growth policy instruments to tap specific opportunities within spatial and resource systems.