A new doodle-style video has been launched that explains how Papua New Guinea’s reliance on large-scale mining and export logging has failed to improve the lives of most people and why PNG now ranks below its Pacific neighbors on most development indicators.
Since Independence in 1975, the people of PNG have been promised that the large-scale extraction of minerals, oil and gas, and tropical logs will deliver economic and social development and improve their lives and livelihoods.
However, over the last fifty year years, people have seen the quality of health and education services and transport infrastructure decline, and today PNG lags behind its Pacific neighbors on most development indicators.
PNG suffers the worst rate of poverty rate in the region and our Human Development Index ranking has plunged from one hundred and twenty third (123rd) in the world to one hundred and fifty-fourth (154th).
The video explains, there are four main reasons why PNG has not seen livelihoods improve despite its economy based on the huge export earnings from natural resource extraction:
- The earnings from resource extraction are banked and spent overseas;
- Large extraction projects are rarely connected to the rest of the PNG economy;
- The companies involved pay very little tax in PNG;
- The extraction causes widespread environmental and social problems for local communities.
The video though does have a positive message.
As well as exposing how PNG’s approach to development has not worked to date, the video explains how the mistakes of the past can be set right if the government shifts its focus from extraction to inclusion.
This means adopting a new, people-centered approach to development that is based on putting communities at the heart of decision-making and developing their strong agricultural and artisan skills.
Ironically, as the video explains, a focus on small and medium-sized enterprises owned by local people and based on PNG Ways and the utilization of customary land is exactly the development path that was set out for us in the National Goals in our Constitution.
The video highlights the need for the government to halt its attacks on customary land tenure, stop encouraging new large-scale mining and gas projects and stop the export of round log exports.
Instead, the government should focus on appropriate education and skill development, improving existing infrastructure and support services and promoting import substitution.
If Take Back PNG really is the objective of our national government, then this video should be a “must watch” as it explains both how and why we need to readjust our economic and development thinking.
The video is based on the report From Extraction To Inclusion, published by ACT NOW in partnership with the Oakland Institute and Jubilee Australia, in October 2020.