Environment and disaster risk management is a global concern that applies to developed and developing nations alike. In Papua New Guinea, its rich biodiversity and vast wealth in natural resources necessitate sustainable resource management, as the people depend on these resources for their livelihoods. Despite significant efforts to improve environmental protection and conservation, to mitigate the effects of climate change and respond effectively to natural and human induced disasters, challenges remain. In terms of conservation, the country’s protected areas network is not growing, and forests are overexploited due mainly to logging. Papua New Guinea is exposed to a range of natural hazards, including drought, earthquakes and flooding, and over 80 per cent of the country’s population is vulnerable to extremes of climate related to the El Nino Southern Oscillation*. In the future, the country is predicted to face increased rainfall, ocean acidification and sea level rise. Awareness of disaster risk management at local levels is limited, as is the allocation of resources. Early warning systems and climate forecasting technologies are oftentimes inadequate.
To create better representation of the country’s natural habitat, the United Nations supports the Government in expanding conservation areas, and in establishing sustainable financing mechanisms for them. Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, by positioning itself at the centre of advocating development opportunities for rainforest countries, Papua New Guinea can benefit from a financial mechanism linked to the Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, known as REDD+. To manage risks from climate change and disasters, the United Nations supports the Government in developing a national framework that takes an inclusive and gender-sensitive approach, and mainstreams climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction into development strategies. The United Nations assists the country’s access to a global network of technical and financial resources, including the Green Climate Fund. In addition, the United Nations empowers local communities in climate change adaptation. This includes awareness-raising, encouraging participation, support in the improvement of sustainable livelihoods and biodiversity conservation, and piloting community-managed renewable energy mini-grid systems. When a disaster strikes, the United Nations ensures that recovery programmes are inclusive of, and accountable to, the most vulnerable and the most affected.
*Department of National Planning and Monitoring, March 2010, pp10, 19, 36, 50