Newsletter SEPTEMBER 2023

Welcoming our new Resident Representative, Mr. Nicholas Booth

On September 22, Mr. Nicholas Booth formally commenced his duties as the new UNDP Resident Representative in Papua New Guinea after presenting his credentials to the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Elias Wohengu

Mr. Booth, who is a national of the United Kingdom, has served as an international civil servant under different UN agencies for 20 years. A barrister with law degrees from both Cambridge and Oxford Universities in the United Kingdom, Mr. Booth has devoted his career to solving issues surrounding rule of law, access to justice and conflict prevention. He joins UNDP Papua New Guinea from UNDP’s Regional Hub in Bangkok, where he most recently took charge of managing the Regional Programme and Global Policy Network.

“As UNDP Resident Representative, I am determined to support Papua New Guinea in adapting to the threat posed by climate change and ensuring the country’s vast natural resources will equitably benefit its current and future generations. I also look forward to strengthening UNDP’s ongoing efforts to empower and protect Papua New Guinean women and girls,” Mr. Booth stated to Secretary Wohengu during the handover ceremony.

UNDP’s training curriculum for Bougainvillean entrepreneurs wins the Good Design Award in Australia

On September 8, UNDP's "Bougainville Entrepreneur and Innovation Curriculum" was awarded with the prestigious Good Design Award for Excellence in Design and Innovation in Melbourne, Australia.

The Good Design Awards is Australia’s oldest and most prestigious international awards ceremony for design and innovation. Each year, the Awards celebrate the best new products and services across 11 design disciplines covering more than 35 categories and subcategories. The Bougainville Entrepreneur and Innovation Curriculum was recognized for its outstanding contributions to design and innovation in the “Social Impact” category.

The curriculum, which consists of two courses, aims to provide the people of Bougainville, particularly women, with the knowledge and skills to start and expand their own small and medium sized enterprises. Both courses were delivered to over 300 working or aspiring entrepreneurs in Buka, Arawa and Buin earlier this year.

The curriculum was designed in partnership with the Ed Institute and ThinkPlace for the “Sustaining Peace Through Economic Empowerment” project, which UNDP is implementing in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville with generous funding provided by the Government of Japan.

Brokering peace in Hela Province

UNDP's new Resident Representative, Mr. Nicholas Booth, undertook his first field mission in Papua New Guinea this month by observing UNDP's different initiatives in Hela Province.

The highlight of the 3-day mission was a peace agreement signing ceremony between four clans from the Tigibi Community in Komo-Margarima District. The clans had engaged in armed conflict since 2014, resulting in dozens of casualties, thousands of people displaced and destruction of gardens, livestock and other property worth hundreds of thousands of kina. The peace agreement was finally reached this year after continued mediation efforts led by UNDP and the United Church in Papua New Guinea.

The emotional ceremony saw leaders and members of the four clans perform a symbolic ‘Burning of Prejudices’ and ‘Washing of Hands’ ritual before signing a formal peace agreement to stop violence, resume normalcy and achieve peace in their communities.

Mr. Booth also joined the Provincial Administration in donating roofing materials to a total of 127 post-conflict communities across Hela Province. The materials, which are being distributed with generous support provided by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), will be used to rebuild communal spaces, including schools, health centres and community halls that had been destroyed during earlier conflicts in the targeted communities.

“Together, we are not just rebuilding roofs. We are restoring hope, strengthening communities, and fostering a brighter future for all,” Mr. Booth stated at the handover ceremony.
Within the framework of the “UN Highlands Joint Programme for Peace and Development”, UNDP is leading efforts to address the root causes of violence, conflict, and fragility in Hela and Southern Highlands Provinces of Papua New Guinea. The programme is made possible with generous funding provided by Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), UN Peacebuilding Fund and UKAid.

Strengthening efforts to protect whisteblowers in Papua New Guinea

As part of their joint efforts to combat corruption in Papua New Guinea, UNDP and the Department of Justice and Attorney General facilitated a total of four trainings on protection of whistleblowers in Papua New Guinea this month.

The first two trainings, which were held between 4-8 September 2023 were attended by public sector officials, while the other two trainings held on 12-13 September 2023 targeted legal practitioners and members of the Papua New Guinean judiciary. All trainings intended to familiarize the participants with the Whistleblower Act 2020, which the Government of Papua New Guinea adopted in 2020 to help protect the rights and safety of persons reporting corruption and other misuses of power within public institutions.

UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Mr. Edward Vrkic attended the training for members of the Papua New Guinea Judiciary on 12 September 2023.
“Whistleblower protection is critical, because the success of anti-corruption efforts ultimately depends on both citizens and public servants feeling safe to report any wrongdoing. At the same time, it is equally important that the judicial system processes such complaints in a fair and efficient manner. This training will provide the participants with the necessary tools to effectively implement the provisions of the Whistleblower Act 2020, which UNDP has had the privilege of developing in cooperation with the Government,” stated UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Mr. Edward Vrkic at the training for members of the judiciary.
The trainings were held under the European Union funded ‘Preventing and Countering Corruption in Papua New Guinea Project (PNG Anti-Corruption Project)’, which is jointly implemented by UNDP and UNODC.

UNDP report reveals concerning climate trends in Hela and Southern Highlands Provinces

This month, UNDP published a downscaled climate risk assessment focusing on Hela and Southern Highlands Provinces. The findings of the report indicate that rainfall, maximum and minimum temperatures, as well as landslides, floods and droughts will increase in both provinces in the future.

As unpredictable weather patterns and natural disasters negatively impact agricultural production and access to water, the findings have concerning implications for the local communities that still mostly rely on subsistence farming for survival. Local women and girls are at particular risk as they traditionally bear the responsibility of performing chores related to managing their communities' natural resources. In addition, these developments pose a threat to regional peace, as food and water insecurity often result in the displacement of communities.

“While the findings of the assessment are alarming, they will enable us to ensure that our focus is on building the resilience of communities that are most at risk of climate related shocks. UNDP is committed to work with both the national and provincial authorities to ensure that the recommendations the report outlines for mitigating the devastating impact of climate change in Hela and Southern Highlands are executed in the near future,“ UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Mr. Edward Vrkic, stated on the findings of the report.
The report was commissioned to the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia (RIMES) to help guide the UNDP-IOM interventions under the joint “Preventing Climate-Induced Conflicts Through Empowered Women Leadership” project in Hela and Southern Highlands Provinces, which is funded by UN Peacebuilding Fund.

Papua New Guinea launches its new National Sustainable Land Use Policy

On September 13, the Government of Papua New Guinea officially launched its new National Sustainable Land Use Policy. UNDP provided extensive support to the development of policy in recent years through its now completed “Forest Carbon Partnership Facility” project funded by the World Bank.

In many parts of Papua New Guinea, competing demands for land use for different economic and social ends has given rise to unsustainable land management practices, which has resulted in negative environmental and social outcomes for the local communities. The new policy aims to address this issue by providing a national framework for land use planning, which will accommodate the interest of different land users to harmoniously pursue their respective goals in a manner that improves quality of life for all citizens.

As part of its “Establishing Systems for Sustainable Integrated Land Use Planning Across New Britain Island” project funded by Global Environment Facility, UNDP will contribute to operationalizing the policy in East and West New Britain Provinces in the coming years.

Celebrating International Day for Universal Access to Information

On 26 September, we celebrated International Day for Universal Access to Information by joining Transparency International PNG in hosting a roundtable discussion at the Gateway Hotel in Port Moresby.

The objective of the roundtable was to discuss ways forward for building a legislative framework regarding "Right to Information" in Papua New Guinea. Key representatives from the Department for Information and Communications Technology, Department of National Planning and Monitoring, Transparency International PNG and Media Council of Papua New Guinea attended the discussion that was moderated by Dr. Alma Sedlar, UNDP Papua New Guinea's Chief Technical Adviser on Anti-Corruption.

‘’UNDP is pleased to facilitate this roundtable on PNG’s efforts to progress the establishment of an effective access to information system with Transparency International PNG. Right to information is guaranteed in the Constitution of Papua New Guinea and it is of utmost importance for informed citizens and transparent and accountable governments,’’ stated Mr. Nicholas Booth, UNDP Resident Representative in his opening remarks.
The roundtable was facilitated by the European Union-funded ‘Preventing and Countering Corruption in Papua New Guinea Project (PNG Anti-Corruption Project)’, which is jointly implemented by UNDP and UNODC.