UNDP urges PNG to protect its biodiversity on World Environment Day June 5

Jun 5, 2017

The United Nations Development Programme’s team celebrate coming second in the corporate walking challenge held to honour World Environment Day at Varirata National Park on Monday June 5. CREDIT: Alice Plate/UNDP

Port Moresby, June 5, 2017 -  On World Environment Day, representatives from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) urged Papua New Guineans to support further protections for the country's unique environment.

World Environment Day is the biggest annual event for positive environmental action around the globe and takes place on 5 June every year. The theme for this year's celebration is 'connecting people with nature'.

"Papua New Guinea is home to some of the most spectacular natural environment in the world. Although the country makes up less than one per cent of the global land area, it contains more than seven per cent of the world's biodiversity," said Roy Trivedy, UNDP Resident Representative and the UN Resident Coordinator in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

To honour World Environment Day Mr Trivedy urged Papua New Guineans to take time to connect with nature and consider how we can best use and protect the environment for people now as well as future generations. 

"I urge men, women and children to appreciate the beauty and importance of our unique environment, and to support the establishment of laws and resources that protect the land and seas that we share," he said.

Although PNG has ratified the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and has committed to protecting 17 per cent of terrestrial area, and 10 per cent of marine areas by 2020 - less than five per cent of the country is currently protected.

Mr Trivedy said the existing levels of protection in place for PNG's terrestrial and marine biodiversity are inadequate, in the face of global as well as national challenges including population growth rates, consumption and production patterns, deforestation and climate change.

"By 2040 it is possible that PNG's population could reach over 17 million people and this will put additional pressure on the land, sea and other natural resources. This, together with the threats posed by less predictable weather patterns, is already resulting in more frequent and intense events such as floods and landslides," he said.

With the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA), UNDP has prepared a Protected Areas Bill to establish and manage a national system of “Protected Areas” in the country.

The Bill will reclassify protected areas into National protected areas (which includes National Parks, Marine Sanctuaries, National Heritage Areas and Special Management Areas) and Regional Protected Areas to help preserve some of PNG's nearly 18,900 known unique plants and thousands of species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and coral.

"This network of protected areas will enable the country to protect its natural resources in a way that will promote economic growth through creation of opportunities like eco-tourism and jobs as well as safeguarding resources for future generations," Mr Trivedy said.  

The Bill will also establish a a Biodiversity Trust Fund and a ‘small grants scheme’, to assist communities to use existing natural resources to improve livelihoods and overcome poverty. A series of stakeholder consultations commenced in May and will continue until December 2017.

World Environment Day Events (June 5)
To celebrate World Environment Day, UNDP event participated in an early celebration at the Port Moresby Nature Park on Saturday 3 June, in which UNDP's Resident Representative in PNG, Mr Roy Trivedy delivered a speech and UNDP staff hosted a stall with activities.

On June 5, UNDP's Resident Representative in PNG Mr Roy Trivedy joined staff in a corporate walk with other Government and non-Government agencies around Varirata National Park near Port Moresby.

Contact information

Alice Plate, UNDP Communications Specialist, +675 7332 4828, alice.plate@undp.org