Papua New Guinea contains over 7% of the world’s biodiversity in less than 1% of the world’s land. Photo: UNDP Papua New Guinea

 

The importance of accounting for biodiversity and ecosystem services for future economic and environment sustainability is growing globally with Papua New Guinea now joining these efforts.

Supported by the United Nations Development Programme in partnership with James Cook University, Australia, the Government of Papua New Guinea has begun addressing how best to account for the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services in shaping Papua New Guinea’s economic and environmental future.

UNDP’s Resident Representative to Papua New Guinea, Mr. Dirk Wagener said valuing and accounting for Papua New Guinea’s unique biodiversity is an important milestone for the country.

“Biodiversity is the foundation that provides the services we need to survive, such as drinking water, breathable air, fertile soil for agriculture and abundant seas. Papua New Guinea hosts over 7% of the world’s biodiversity on less than 1% of the world’s land. If biodiversity is not protected, the country’s economy and livelihoods of its people will suffer," said Mr. Wagener.

The benefits derived from biodiversity and ecosystem services in Papua New Guinea are significant but are systematically undervalued. Part of the reason for this undervaluation is that they have not been assessed. This assessment aims to directly address this gap and contribute to national decision-making with long-term economic prosperity in mind. Globally the costs of inaction are clear and alarming. Between 1997 and 2011, the world lost an estimated USD 4-20 trillion per year in ecosystem services owing to land-cover change and USD 6-11 trillion per year from land degradation (OECD, 2019).

A team from the Cairns Institute at James Cook University, will develop a methodology - applicable to the context of Papua New Guinea – to conduct for the first time a national assessment of the ecosystem services generated by the natural environment, identifying the interlinkages with economic sectors and livelihoods. The result of the analysis will demonstrate the value of investing in nature and that it is worth the return on investment for biodiversity protection.

The future sustainability of the Papua New Guinea economy is largely dependent on nature. The country’s forestry, mining, agriculture, tourism, and fisheries sector all benefit directly from an intact and productive natural environment.

Valuing the contribution of biodiversity to Papua New Guinea’s economy and livelihoods can help protect nature, a win-win for people and planet.

Background:

Papua New Guinea is a natural resource-dependent country. About 87 percent of Papua New Guinea’s population live in rural communities and are reliant on subsistence agriculture, fishing, and hunting (World Bank, 2019). Eight percent live within one kilometer of the sea and are reliant on the ocean for protein and livelihoods. Unsustainable land-use change and forest degradation from commercial and illegal logging have already led to reducing soil quality and fertility, reducing agricultural yields.

At present, 18 percent of the global tuna stock is found in Papua New Guinea’s largest macro-economic tuna fishery – in the northern Exclusive Economic Zone, or EEZ. But, according to the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority, the country’s tuna industry is under threat due to over-exploitation of yellowfin and bigeye tuna. 

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