Kevin Conrad, the so-called PNG Climate Change Ambassador has denied suggestions that he has made millions of kina through his work for the country and that he had used the country’s forest as collateral. But many remain suspicious about his role.
“Any suggestions that I somehow have personally received money or profit as a result of my climate work are totally false and defamatory,’’ he says. “For the record: I do not own any forest area; I am not party to any contracts related to forests or carbon; I have never received any consulting fees for climate and forest issues; I have never used forests for collateral for any commercial transaction; I have no other agreements that would allow me to profit from my climate and forests efforts. “Any allegations or suggestions to contrary are false and will be pursued to the full extent of the law,” Mr Conrad said.
But, according to the Post Courier newspaper, Mr Conrad has received $US17,870,840 off NGOs and wealthy people in Europe and the USA, on the basis that he was “saving the rainforests of PNG”.
Critics claim this has contradicted Mr Conrad’s claim that his services to PNG were voluntary and not compensated. “My service to PNG is voluntary and not compensated,’’ he had said. “Having spent most of my life living in PNG, this service is strictly an honour for me. From the beginning of my climate efforts, I have worked on salary at a leading non-profit university under a research-oriented MOU with PNG focused on policy development -- where all employees (including myself) are required to sign legally binding annual conflict-of-interest agreements,” he had said.
Mr Conrad has also been labelled as a man who allegedly was involved in several multi-million-kina projects in PNG that had fallen through. Those and other allegations are made by voluntary carbon trade advocate Kirk Roberts of Nupan Trading Corporation
Mr Conrad was also allegedly involved in a tuna business, a housing project and a superannuation project, in which large amounts of money invested by Papua New Guineans had been lost.
Mr Roberts claims that Mr Conrad was rumoured to be spoiling the chance for landowners to make massive earnings for not logging their forests and taking part in the voluntary carbon trade. This trade was worth millions and millions of kina every year for the next 40 to 100 years, Mr Roberts says.
Another company, April Salome No.2 Resources Ltd from East Sepik, has also said Mr Conrad must stay away from representing their interest. In a statement, chairman Willy Maru said, “Kevin Conrad has no authority to interrupt, make statement or run around overseas looking for money to be committed to develop April Salome carbon trade project on my people’s forest lands.”
The Peoples Action Party has also issued a statement supporting Mr Roberts. “Mr Roberts is talking sense, former vice president Kila Noho and leader Ted Diro said. They said carbon trading was a business venture, and should not be over-regulated. Freedom to benefits by the people should be untouched.
Mr Roberts has also queried whether it was true that Mr Conrad was now trying to get a “sustainable logging project” up with Earth Sky in the Prime Minister’s electorate. “For a huge consulting fee? At the expense of the landowners who have publically declared they do not want to log, but they want to participate in the voluntary carbon trading market?” he said, adding: ’Who gave him the mandate to speak for PNG and take money for PNG?’