Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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Papua New Guinea

One participant and one observer from Papua New Guinea attended the intersectoral workshop ‘Towards Wise Coastal Development Practices’ held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris in the beginning of December 1998. A report on the workshop was published in English and French as CSI info 10 (2000): ‘Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development. Results of an Intersectoral Workshop and Preliminary Findings of a Follow-up Virtual Forum’. The delegate from Papua New Guinea presented a paper on the Motu Koita villages of the National Capital District.

In partnership with the University of Papua New Guinea CSI launched a field project in Papua New Guinea in 1998 on the Sound Development in the Motu Koita Urban Villages, Port Moresby’ (old name ‘Motu-Koita Coastal Urban Villages in the National Capital District’). The Papua New Guinea government had plans to relocate the port at Port Moresby and to extend the Motukea oil refinery and the Port Moresby dock facility. Project activities involved raising public awareness of the impact these changes will have on the Motu-Koita villages of Hanubada, Tatana and Baruni; villages that were already being encroached upon by urban growth. A series of public awareness talks was given in March and April 1999. Motu Koita leaders met in a two-day summit (August/September 1999) to discuss the problems facing their people and identify strategies to address them. Priorities were identified, a public awareness campaign was launched, it was resolved that a community-based development approach should be adopted and that a task force to collect socio-economic data on the Motu Koita people should be set up and report to the council chairman. The exercise attracted the attention of the media, Port Moresby city administrators and national politicians. The first board meeting of the project was held in January 2000. The proceedings of the meeting and some of the immediate follow-up were published as CSI papers 10: ‘Partners in Coastal Development. The Motu Koitabu People of Papua New Guinea’. A meeting of concerned community leaders followed. An awareness programme started in February. It was conducted in each of the ten Motu Koita communities in the National Capital on a ‘one community per week’ basis. In March Motu Koita position papers were presented at a public hearing of the National Commission for Urbanization and Social Development. The Parliamentary Committee on Urbanization and Social Development which was established following the 1999 summit presented a report to the National Parliament in November 2000. The report addressed the issues of customary land ownership and urban development, and made specific recommendations for solving the socio-economic difficulties imposed on the Motu Koita by continuing expansion and development of Port Moresby. A summary of the project, its goals, achievements and future direction, was compiled in September 2000. A five-person team visited the area in December 2000 to assess the project and help to plan its future. A community urbanization awareness-raising meeting was held in Kirakira Village, Port Moresby in June 2001. Students and staff of the University of Papua New Guinea conducted a social profile of Baruni Village, Port Moresby in October 2001.

In partnership with UNESCO’s MOST Programme and as part of its Growing Up In Cities Initiativea workshop was held in December 1999 to teach young people in the urban villages of Port Moresby how to find out about the social, economic and political problems within their city. A National Youth Forum was opened in November 1999 as a follow-up to the regional Youth Forum held in Brisbane in 1998. Issues addressed included ‘Youth and the Environment’, ‘Youth, Education and Employment’, ‘Youth and Health Issues’, and ‘Youth Promoting Cultural Peace’. A report on the Forum ‘Growing Up in Papua New Guinea’ was published in the June 2000 issue of ‘The UN in Samoa’.

Primary schools in the vicinity of the field project have been registered in the UNESCO Associated Schools Project. The schools have selected environmentas a theme to be taught over a two-year period. The initiative will focus on environmental education and problems associated with large-scale industrial development. During 2001 the Baruni Elementary School (Port Moresby) curriculum development committee began work on teaching material ‘Traditional Stories and Legends of the Koita People of Papua New Guinea’.

A second project was concerned with the social and environmental dilemma facing the villages in the Moripi Cultural Area and with establishing the key social, cultural and ecological baselines required for community-based development. Research was conducted from July 1998 to June 1999 to estimate the levels of natural resources available in the area, their cultural uses, and to encourage their continued, sustainable use. Focus was on swamp and riverine resources in the coastal area. Further field work was conducted from September to December 1999. A three-day research activity was conducted in July 1999 in the village of Miaru. The local population was taught about, and shared their views, on sustainability, environment protection, resource exploitation and marginalization. Students from the University of Papua New Guinea, who took part in the Miaru survey, compiled a report on the socio-economic and physical status of the village. Project activities at Moripi have now terminated

A replanting project was set up in the Trobriand Islands to replace fruit and nut trees lost in recent natural disasters and to augment food supplies under pressure from over-population. The villages of Okeboma, Okupukopu, Illaliama, Osapola and Ketui were selected as trial sites. In August to October 1999 mango seeds were taken to the islands, the villages were visited and replanting supervised. Between December 1999 and February 2000 the trees were inspected and replacements added where necessary. A summary of the project was compiled in April 2001. Staff and students from the University of Papua New Guinea surveyed resources (mud crabs, lime powder and fruit trees) in the Trobriand Islands in September and October 2001.

The Papua New Guinea National commission carried out a community-based survey of local knowledge and practice in 1998 as the first step in the establishment of a UNESCO Chair in ‘Sustainable Coastal Development’ at the University of Papua New Guinea. A UNESCO specialist from Paris visited Papua New Guinea in May 1998 to advise the National Commission on the Chair. Various departments and disciplines of the University of Papua New Guinea have been encouraged to collaborate and strengthen their research capabilities. The Chair has the support of the Papua New Guinea Government via the National Commission for UNESCO, the Commission for Higher Education, the Education Department, the Department of Environment, a National Research Institution and the University of Papua New Guinea Administration. Although the chair was not yet formally established a summary of its goals and direction was compiled in April 2001. It may become associated with the planned Melanesia and Pacific Studies Centre at the university.

In June 1999 a web-based discussion started on ‘Cost Benefit Analysis of Infrastructural Developments’ in Papua New Guinea on the ‘Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development’ Forum. More papers with relevance to Papua New Guinea were posted on the forum in 2000: ‘Local Control of Water Supply’ and ‘The Future of the Wise Practices Forum an Asian-Pacific Regional Perspective’. Other papers relevant to Papua New Guinea were posted in April 2002: ‘Indigenous Fishers Knowledge - Further Discussion’ and May 2002: ‘Compensating Those Impacted by Mining’.

In July 2000 pilot project leaders, UNESCO Chair holders and UNESCO staff met in Bangkok to discuss strategies for advancing and networking the field projects and university chairs in the Asia-Pacific region. Six universities in India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Thailand signed an agreement to set up a UNITWIN (university twinning) network to reinforce interdisciplinary teaching and training in coastal matters in February 2002.

Two people from Papua New Guinea attended a meeting of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Apia, Samoa, in December 2000. This workshop on ‘Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Small Island Living’ and an Open Day brought CSI project workers together. Discussion centred on project assessment and interaction with university chairs and the Internet-based forum. The results of the workshop were published as CSI papers 9 (2001) ‘Wise Coastal Practices Towards Sustainable Small-Island Living’. One of the participants from Papua New Guinea presented a paper on the CSI project on ‘Sound Development in the Motu Koitabu Villages in Port Moresby’. The second presented a paper on the project in the Moripi Cultural Area, the Trobriand Islands and the UNESCO chair at the University of Papua New Guinea.

An Asian-Pacific UNITWIN workshop on ‘Exploring Wise Practice Agreements’ was held in Khuraburi, Thailand in November 2002. It was attended by members of the Surin Islands project team, representatives of the Marine Parks Division of the Royal Forestry Department, Moken people from Ko Surin and the local media. During the workshop UNESCO suggested that the Thai Government should grant citizenship to the Moken of the Surin Islands. A work shop focusing on Moken citizenship and a field visit to the Surin Islands were organised, and reported in the local press. Assessment of the projects in the Trobriand Islands and Port Moresby was discussed, as was the future of the UNITWIN network.

A paper ‘Coastal Land Tenure: A Small-Islands’ Perspective’ was published in March 2003. The situation in Papua New Guinea was compared with that in other small island states and territories.



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