Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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Coastal region and small island papers 10
Chapter 1


After Papua New Guinea (PNG) gained its independence from Australia on 16 September 1975, Port Moresby became the nation's capital and the business, commercial and administrative centre. Much of the land in the Port Moresby area belongs to the Motu Koitabu. However, after independence, as people from other provinces moved into the city, increasingly all aspects of the lives of the Motu Koitabu – political, economic, social and cultural – became marginalized. No longer did the Motu Koitabu determine their own destiny.

In order to take stock of the situation, the Inaugural Summit on Motu Koitabu Development was held in Baruni village from 31 August to 1 September 1999. The papers presented by the invited resource persons and commentators to the more than 200 participants provoked informative and lively discussions. The outcomes of the summit are contained in this report.

Following an opening address by the Chairman of the Motu Koitabu Council, the Honourable Kabua Kabua (see Appendix 1), Mr Haraka Gaudi reviewed and analysed the environmental impacts of several major development projects currently underway in the Port Moresby area as well as other potential ones.

Left to right: Hon. Kabua Kabua, 
Mr Haraka Gaudi and Lady Carol Kidu

Mr Eric Kwa then outlined the provincial government legal reforms that have taken place and proposed several legal avenues through which the Motu Koitabu people could pursue their rights. Mr Dorke De Gedare further developed this theme and showed how the Motu Koitabu have been marginalized in the National Capital District (NCD).1

Lady Carol Kidu reviewed the previous education system – when education was the responsibility of the entire community – and compared it with the present-day system, in which Motu Koitabu children are missing out on opportunities. She challenged the summit participants to reintroduce education geared towards their cultural identity and heritage.

Mr David Choulai and Ms Kaia Varona encouraged the participants to share their visions for the future and proposed some specific activities for the future development of the Motu Koitabu people.

It should be recognized that there have been further developments since the summit relating to some of the issues described by the presenters. This report reflects, for the greater part, the situation as it was in September 1999, and as it was perceived and presented by the speakers at the summit.

The recommendations proposed by the speakers were unanimously agreed upon and adopted by the summit, and are now referred to as ‘The Baruni Declaration’.

The plight of the Motu Koitabu people has become the focus of a field project entitled ‘Sound Development in the Motu Koitabu Urban Villages, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea’ (see project summary in Appendix 2). This project, supported on UNESCO’s intersectoral platform for Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and in Small Islands (CSI), was initiated at the ‘Focus on the Pacific’ meeting (UNESCO, Paris, 1 November 1997) to help address the social, economic and environmental problems affecting the livelihood of the Motu Koitabu people. Launched in 1996, CSI’s approach is intersectoral and interdisciplinary and employs three mutually re-enforcing modalities: field projects, university chairs/twinning networks, and an internet-based discussion forum on ‘Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development’ (WiCoP forum; user name = csi, password = wise). The initiative attempts to build bridges between the scientific disciplines themselves, and between science and real-world challenges that face people who make their home in coastal cities and small islands.

A series of field projects, initiated around the globe, seek to establish examples showcasing the positive impacts of ‘wise practices’ in sustainable coastal management. To date, 23 intersectoral field projects have been established in 60 countries, involving all sectors of society. From initial entry points, field projects expand to encompass other related issues and further broaden their scope. This strategy allows project partners to learn how intersectoral co-operation is best put into practice, thereby enhancing the strength and quality of response to coastal and small-island issues.

University chairs in sustainable coastal development and university twinning networks are being established at educational institutions worldwide to support the pilot projects and to foster new interdisciplinary ways of thinking and acting. They provide innovative training and capacity building for environmentally sustainable, socially equitable, culturally appropriate and economically viable development in coastal regions and in small islands. One such network is under consideration at the University of Papua New Guinea.

The WiCoP forum seeks to widen the framework of participation, to expose the findings on wise coastal practices obtained from the field projects and university chairs/twinning networks to a much wider audience, and to provide for the exchange and transfer of wise practices.

Chapters 2–6 contain the presentations, and Chapter 7 the recommendations from the Baruni Summit. A short background of the main contributors to the summit may be found in Appendix 3. Only 10% of the summit’s participants were female, which emphasizes some of the social and gender issues discussed by Lady Carol Kidu in her presentation in Chapter 5. There is a map of the National Capital District. Chapter 8 summarizes some of the post-summit activities, principally the work of the Special Parliamentary Committee on Urbanization and Social Development, as well as other project activities, including the establishment of a Motu Koitabu Task Force, the holding of a Motu Koitabu Young Leaders Workshop, and a ‘Growing up in Cities’ workshop for young persons.

1 The National Capital District (NCD) is a separate administrative entity, established by the Government of Papua New Guinea, to administer the nation’s capital, Port Moresby. The administrative arm of the NCD is known as the National Capital District Commission (NCDC), which has similar functions to the other 19 provincial administrations in Papua New Guinea. The Motu Koitabu Council comes under the administration of the NCDC as a political unit, with limited political and administrative power.


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