Community activist group ACT NOW! is supporting a call from the United Nations for a moratorium on new mining activities in Papua New Guinea but says the analysis and policy changes recommended by the global body do not go far enough.
In presenting the United Nations latest Human Development Index last week, the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Roy Trivedy, said the data showed foreign investment and strong economic growth in PNG are not leading to significant improvements in the well-being of most citizens in the country. He said there needs to be significant policy changes made before there is any expansion of mining and expiration activities.
ACT NOW! agrees:
"The UN is absolutely right the government's focus on foreign investment and large-scale resource projects does not improve the livelihoods of most people in PNG. Poverty levels are still too high and health, education, literacy and other indicators of human development remain very low, as the UN has highlighted", says ACT NOW! Program Manager, Effrey Dademo.
The UN has recommended some policy changes to try and improve the outcomes for ordinary people, but ACT NOW! says these do not go far enough.
"The UN has focused on the economy and financial returns”, says Effrey Dademo. "But the problems are much broader. We also need to look at the environmental and social impacts of large-scale resource projects which are also overwhelming negative".
ACT NOW! says the economic, social and environmental failure of large-scale foreign investment and resource extraction was predicted by the architects of our Constitution more than forty years ago.
"The Constitutional Planning Committee warned of the 'darkness of neon lights' and that is why they set out a clear development path in our National Goals that is based on our strengths as a people and our PNG Ways. Unfortunately successive governments have been swayed by foreign corporations and overseas governments into following an alternative, foreign, imposed and colonial model that benefits them but not the ordinary people of PNG", says Ms Dademo.
"If we want to see significant improvements and ensure the most vulnerable are not left further and further behind while a small local elite and foreign corporations benefit, we need to change the underlying development model and our dependency on large-scale foreign investment. We need a complete refocus and a return to our Constitutional principles".
As a first step, ACT NOW! is calling on the government to implement a moratorium on all new mining and other resource extraction activities as the UN has suggested and to conduct a full analysis of the economic, social and environmental costs of current large-scale resource extraction activities and who is benefiting from the current development model.