|Overview : |
Papua New Guinea (PNG) has been one of the fastest growing economies globally this century with average growth rates above 6%. This rapid growth has been driven primarily by the expansion of foreign investment within the natural gas sector and high prices for PNG’s central exports many of which are transported to rapidly growing Asian economies. This growth has built on a long history of natural resources being at the centre of the PNG economy with exports and employment dominated by mining, natural gas, logging and agriculture. While this rapid growth has delivered significant changes in PNG’s main urban areas and those communities benefiting directly from foreign investment, the country still faces significant challenges in meeting the objectives of Vision 2050 and in providing development opportunities for all while also maintaining its natural environment.
Over 85% of the nation’s 7.3m population are based in rural areas and rely primarily on subsistence agriculture for survival and have limited access to health centres, education or broader development opportunities. Falling commodity prices since 2012 have also left the country facing significant economic challenges despite ongoing growth.
Since 2005, PNG has been at the forefront of intergovernmental negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to develop an international mechanism to compensate developing countries for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). To be eligible to receive results-based finance for REDD+ results-based actions under the UNFCCC, PNG will have to develop the following elements:
- A National Strategy or Action Plan;
- A national forest reference emission level and/or forest reference level;
- A robust and transparent national forest monitoring system for the monitoring and reporting of the REDD + activities;
- A system for providing information on how the safeguards on local community and forest biodiversity are being addressed and respected throughout the implementation of the REDD+ activities while respecting sovereignty.
In 2016-2017, with the support of UNDP/FCPF project, a National REDD+ Strategy (NRS) was developed and submitted to the Government of PNG for review and endorsement. The NRS marks a major milestone in PNG’s transition from the REDD+ Readiness Phase to REDD+ implementation.
While the NRS marks a critical step in the nation’s REDD+ development process further action is needed to ensure that the NRS is effectively financed, that proposed policies and measures are developed and tested, and that long term sustainable financing and management systems are in place.
To achieve this the NRS will be supported by a REDD+ Finance and Investment Plan (RFIP), which will provide a detailed breakdown of activities to be undertaken in the coming five years, including clear budgets and approaches to financing.
In the PNG’s National REDD+ Strategy different REDD+ options of where and how to implement REDD+ activities involve different costs and bring different combinations of carbon stocks, biodiversity benefits and other ecosystem services. These benefits can have high economic values attached to them through their role in underpinning the production of goods and services that are valued by humans and that underpin local livelihoods and national economies. But often their values are not visible as these benefits do not directly enter markets and thus do not have a financial value (as defined by a market price) attached to them. Valuing forest benefits can help to understand the overall economic importance of REDD+ options and to assess economic trade-offs with other land use options. It is a means to mainstream forest benefits besides carbon into REDD+ strategy and RFIP and wider land use planning.
Thus, the current economic assessment will help move forward to identify the costs of implementing all the actions in the RFIP as well as informing REDD+ planning for future interventions in PNG.