Workshop held to discuss translation of wealth from natural resource extraction into sustainable human development

28 Nov 2013

imageConsultation Groups at work

UNDP held a consultative workshop on human development in collaboration with the Government in Port Moresby. Facilitated by the Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council (CIMC), the workshop – bringing together representatives from Government, industry and civil society - outlined and discussed UNDP’s second National Human Development Report (NHDR) with the theme of ‘From Nature to People: Translating Resource Wealth into Sustainable Human Development’.

UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. David McLachlan-Karr, said revenues from extractive industries in the country had soared for many years, making PNG a strong and stable economic performer in the Pacific region averaging 7% growth annually. “However, growth has not been inclusive” he said. The country remains off track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by 2015, and currently ranks 156th out of 186 countries on the 2013 Human Development Index (HDI) with persistent levels of poverty and social inequality. In fact, it is estimated that 40 per cent of the population lives on less than one dollar per day, with a gross national income per capita of $2,227, that 75 per cent of households depend on subsistence agriculture. Life expectancy is 61.6 years and 25 per cent of children never go to school (21% male, 29% female).

This ‘paradox of plenty’ illustrates well that while economic growth is a necessary pre-requisite for poverty reduction and development, it does not guarantee that development benefits will trickle down equitably and in an inclusive manner to all Papua New Guineans.

The ‘PNG Vision 2050’ states that by 2050, PNG will be a ‘smart, wise, fair, healthy and happy society’. In the UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI), PNG aspires to be ranked among the top 50 countries, ‘creating opportunities for personal and national advancement through economic growth, smart innovative ideas, quality service and ensuring a fair and equitable distribution of benefits in a safe and secure environment for all citizens.’ This is an ambitious goal, given the complexity of PNG’s social, cultural, political and economic make-up. PNG is a lower middle-income country with an area of 461,690 square kilometres and a population of about 7 million. It is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse (over 850 indigenous languages), rural (some 85 per cent of the population lives in rural areas), and youngest (40 per cent is under the age of 15) countries. With an annual population growth rate of 2.8%, the population is projected to reach 9 million by 2020.

In order to support GoPNG meaningfully in addressing the paradox of plenty, UNDP is collaborating with GoPNG to prepare a National Human Development Report (NHDR) that looks at the varying degrees of translation of wealth from natural resource extraction into sustainable human development (SHD) and to identify feasible options for the Government to address the wealth-SHD nexus and progressively meet its obligation to provide a decent standard of living to all its citizens. The vital question for policymakers in PNG is not whether but how the Government - as the duty-bearer - can best promote and protect the rights of its citizens to a decent standard of living by effectively using windfall revenues from natural resource extraction to improve the standard of living of all Papua New Guineans.

The NHDR is undertaking an in-depth analysis of the potential contribution of the sustainable management of natural resources to human development in PNG. In particular, the Report will demonstrate the value of improving the management of natural resources and windfall revenues by the Government so that as a duty-bearer, Government ensures the progressive realization of its people rights to a decent standard of living, welfare and livelihoods, thus fulfilling the social contract between the Government and its citizens.

The consultative process of developing the NHDR will bring together divergent views, opinions and experiences, including from the communities, and contribute to a wider debate around effective use of windfalls from natural resource into SHD. Recently, a research team visited Lihir to look into Newcrest’s Social Impact Monitoring Project, which will inform the NHDR. Similarly, the CIMC-facilitated consultation is part of and illustrates the consultative and participatory process to develop the Report, bringing together government, industry, civil society, development partners and other actors, to discuss and validate analyses undertaken from the national perspective.