Pacific leaders have declared a climate crisis in the region and are demanding an end to coal mining.
The declaration was signed by several regional leaders at the Pacific Islands Development Forum in Fiji on Tuesday.
The declaration expresses grave concerns about the impacts the climate crisis will have on the Pacific.
In it, the Pacific Islands Development Forum called on governments of countries with high carbon emissions to stop hindering climate change efforts.
It also demands all coal producers immediately stop any new coal mining and phase out all existing production over the next 10 years.
The declaration asked the development forum’s 14-member states to immediately end subsidies on fossil fuel production.
Echoing 2018’s Boe Declaration from the Pacific Islands Forum, Tuesday’s declaration affirmed “that climate change poses the single greatest threat to the human rights and security of present and future generations of Pacific Island peoples”.
The move was welcomed by environmental non-profit 350.org, with founder Bill McKibben calling it a “very powerful manifesto”.
“The election, in the Pacific, of the government of Australia that continues to want to expand coal mines is a slap in the face to everyone else in that region and in the world,” he said in a videoed statement.
Bainimarama calls for concrete commitments to cut emissions
Meanwhile, Fiji’s prime minister said Pacific leaders should accept nothing less than concrete commitments to cut emissions at next month’s Pacific Islands Forum Summit.
Frank Bainimarama will be attending his first summit since 2008.
Fiji was suspended in 2009 in the wake of the 2006 coup and the abrogation of the then-constitution.
Mr Bainimarama had said he would stay away until New Zealand and Australia were no longer full Forum members.
In a speech at the Pacific Islands Development Forum – which was set up by Fiji after its suspension – Mr Bainimarama said the region cannot accept any watered-down commitments.
At last year’s forum, Australia was exposed as having attempted to water down a resolution that declared climate change the region’s greatest security threat.
Mr Bainimarama said the region needs greater commitments from the region’s bigger neighbours, hinting at Australia and New Zealand.
“Fiji and the Marshall Islands have already announced our intention to revise our own nationally determined contributions, and I urge this … membership to do the same and demand the same from the more developed economies, including and especially our large neighbours in the Pacific.
“We should accept anything less than concrete commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions in line with the most ambitious aspirations of the Paris Agreement. We cannot allow climate commitments to be watered down at a meeting hosted in a nation whose very existence is threatened by the rising waters lapping at its shores.”
The 166 donated vehicles used during last year’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in Papua New Guinea have been distributed to government institutions, non-governmental organisations and churches.
They were handed over by the Department of Finance in Port Moresby last Friday.
Present to officially handover vehicle keys to recipients was Minister for Finance and Rural Development Charles Abel and Finance Secretary Dr Ken Ngangan.
The vehicles were donated to the Papua New Guinea government by the governments of China and Japan.
“As part of the process of disposing of assets acquired for APEC, we are starting with the vehicles given, they are of high value. The disposal will not only include vehicles but all assets that were purchased by the APEC authority,” said Dr Ngangan.
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“It has taken us a long time but the process that we going through are done transparently so to account for all assets purchased.”
Dr Ngangan said all these was submitted to the Finance Minister and then to the attention of the National Procurement Commission for endorsement of disposal of donated assets.
Public assets He said the process of disposal follows under the Procurement Act and the Public Finance Management Act complies with disposal requirements.
“The Department of Finance is the department responsible for the disposal of public assets and we have now taken ownership of all assets purchased by the APEC Authority.
The next process will include the state-purchased assets which is about 321 in total,” he said.
“After that we will provide a full report and submit to our Finance Minister, and to the National Executive Council, National Procurement Commission board and other oversight agencies like Ombudsman Commission and to everyone including the general public.”
France’s outgoing High Commissioner to New Caledonia has said should preparations be needed for a third referendum on independence from France, there would have to be consideration of what happens thereafter.
Thierry Lataste, who will end his tenure at the weekend, told Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes that efforts are now being made to hold a second referendum, which has been called for by both pro- and anti-independence politicians under the terms of the Noumea Accord.
A first referendum last November saw a majority of 56 percent opt for the status quo, with expectations that the next vote will yield a similar result.
Lataste said after a third referendum the provisions of the Noumea Accord would expire which would pose fresh challenges, including the make-up of the rolls.
There have also been claims that thousands of Kanak voters failed to get onto the restricted roll used for the referendum, but Lataste says every effort had been made to track down voters on the general roll.
He said that on the referendum day there were no people saying they had not managed to enrol.
This article is published under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.
The 39th independence celebration in Port Vila commenced with the launching of the country’s upgraded passport yesterday.
The upgraded passport is now ready to be released, following its launch by Prime Minister (PM) Charlot Salwai.
The launch occurred following the declaration of this year’s independence celebration, after yesterday’s victory parade through town.
With a validity period of 10 years, the new passport has a strong cover with a printed Vanuatu flag compared to the old one. It contains unique custom designs, high security features and more serial digits to improve security.
PM Salwai said the passport is one of the documents that criminals targeted in identity fraud, which is on the rise everywhere around the world.
“The Government, through the Ministry of Internal Affairs, recognises the importance of investing in the improvement of our passport security features,” he said.
“Records reveal that 105, 000 Vanuatu passports have been issued since 2010. Around 30 to 36% of the country’s 289, 886 population hold a passport.
“Our founding leaders have fought against the colonial powers so that we gain freedom and have our own passport. Our passport is our identity.
“We have to protect our identity and own it with pride. The launching of this upgraded passport is a huge achievement for us.”
Minister of Internal Affairs Andrew Napuat urged all citizens to celebrate in unity at all Area and Ward Councils.
“Colleague leaders, all government workers, private sector workers, visitors and all people of Vanuatu, it is time we celebrate our 39th independence with humbleness, unity and look ahead on what you can do to bring positive changes to our country and future generations,” he said.
“The decision is on our hands.
“As we approach Independence Day, I wish to remind us of the unity that was instilled within those who fought for our freedom.
“The same call also goes to all politicians to leave aside their differences, unite and celebrate with the people. Let us unite and cherish our Independence Day,” he said.
Yesterday’s independence victory parade from Moorings to Seafront was led by the Vanuatu Mobile Force.
The Indonesia’s “Look East” Diplomacy entails stepping up on its propaganda against United Liberation Movement For West Papua or ULMWP. This is legitimated by the proposition that to go against ULMWP is for the best interests of the People of West Papua, Free Papua Movement, and the armed wing of the independence movement.
Indonesian militia elements target ULMWP. This is because it is the cementing block for indigenous Papuans who have formed under one umbrella group. It is also a threat considered by Jakarta as having traction and therefore reinforces the arguments for West Papua to separate from the unitary Republic of Indonesia.
And, Indonesian militia elements are assigned to stop this option for West Papua and ensure the conversation is only about West Papua remaining part of the territory, and an integral part of Indonesia.
In doing so, or to validate Indonesia’s claim to sovereignty over West Papua especially at a time when the internationalisation of the independence movement has peaked propaganda has been stepped up with programmes run by NGOs, academics, churches, students, and other tactical scripts produced in Jakarta.
In the latest developments, the strategy involved stepped up propaganda in which the armed wing of the independence movement is being coached into siding with the script from Jakarta.
It is the same version to play down the inalienable right to self – determine for indigenous Papuans since the 1960s. However, the extremist or hardline position of the armed wing since the unilateral proclamation of independence made by the OPM on 1 July 1971 is being manipulated so that it defeats the purpose of the case for a new UN sponsored referendum pushed by ULMWP which runs tandem to the case for independence put by the Dutch colonial administration to the UN in the 1960s.
The farcical Act of Free Choice held in 1969 therefore is being challenged by ULMWP which includes the role played by Indonesia as the temporary administration under the New York Agreement.
The point to be made about ULMWP’s internationalisation of the West Papua issue is that Indonesia’s claim to sovereignty over West Papua is illegal. This is supported by several tenets. Firstly, historical documents and data show clearly the fraud. Thus, on July 14 – August 2, 1969 based on the New York Agreement there was a referendum which was to provide indigenous Papuans the opportunity to choose self-determination [one person one vote] or not.
Due to the heavy involvement of militia elements sponsored by Indonesia the option for indigenous Papuans to have their say was never expressed under the terms of international best – practice. Instead, during the farcical referendum also called PEPERA the whole voting population of West Papua did not vote.
The New York Agreement provided that all indigenous Papuans above 18 years old were to vote which was the international best – practice guideline called universal suffrage. Only 1025 people comprising both indigenous Papuans and non – indigenous Papuans were hand – picked to represent the entire population of West Papua.
This history is to be rectified because the farcical referendum resulted in the current status of West Papua as a territorial region or part of the unitary Republic of Indonesia.
Secondly, the ULMWP has already set in motion elements of a strategy to revisit the history of West Papua’s integration into the unitary Republic of Indonesia. This caused a reaction from the militia, which is sponsored by Indonesia to undermine the moves by ULMWP since it was formed in 2014.
The International Lawyers for West Papua or ILWP with the support of Vanuatu as a state actor in the international system has made significant progress to challenge the legality of the integration of the former Dutch colony into the unitary Republic of Indonesia.
Among the crucial evidence being compiled is the unilateral proclamation of independence on July 1, 1971 in which the Free Papua Movement or OPM proclaimed the State of West Papua.
The noble intention has never been recognised by the international community. Meanwhile, local militias financed by Indonesia infiltrated the OPM network after the leaders who issued the proclamation went into exile in other countries.
Thirdly, while living in exile overseas, original leaders of the independence movement were able to maintain solidarity needed for the struggle to stay alive, and remain insulated and free from the activities of local militias and importantly continued to fight so that West Papua would gain independence one day.
Fourthly, in the era of a ‘democratising’ Indonesia steps were taken to address the West Papua issue highlighted by the OPM Second Congress or Musyawarah Besar or MUBES held in 2000.
This led to the birth of special autonomy. But, it was a within – system option that contained the independence aspiration in which case the status of West Papua was contained within a special arrangement with the Indonesian state called special autonomy.
However, the catch is this. West Papua was still part of Indonesia.
This process did not question Indonesian claim to sovereignty over West Papua. And, the indigenous Papuans continued to be categorised as slaves. It gave the local militia an excuse to force the Indonesian identity on Melanesian Papuans with no respect for the ideals of the ancestral land, and ideals of the Papuan race for independence from the Indonesian occupying forces.
Finally, ULMWP since its birth in 2014, has filled the vacuum and therefore the need for a united platform for independence. Despite the effort of the local militia, and the advice from Jakarta to stop ULMWP from internationalising the West Papua issue, the Free Papua Movement or OPM has successfully withstood the test of time and scrutiny.
The conclusions are these:
(1) Indonesia can stop the Free Papua Movement or OPM from inside because liberated zones are fast taken over by non – indigenous Papuans or Indonesian trans migrants in a government programme controlled by Jakarta referred as ‘slow – motion’ genocide by some academic researchers.
But, the internationalisation of the West Papua issue in recent years paid off with the birth of ULMWP. Generally, although there may be exceptions, the fact is OPM is ULMWP. And, ULMWP is OPM. Chairman of the ULMWP is the Chairperson of the OPM.
(2) Any within – system strategy endorsed by Jakarta included the 2000 OPM Second Congress or MUBES. But, since then there has been considerable consolidation of the independence aspiration especially with internationalisation of the West Papua issue.
(3) The OPM and its modus operandi is built into, and not outside the ULMWP sphere of influence in international politics and diplomacy to push the argument for UN intervention in West Papua.
(4) The ULMWP is insulated from the local militia and its Jakarta military advisers and will challenge the Indonesian claim to sovereignty over West Papua through internationalising the facts about its illegal integration into the unitary Republic of Indonesia.
(5) Indigenous Papuans may or may not be subjected to deals, and compromise, and therefore used as scapegoats to prolong the Indonesian version of West Papua’s integration as part of Indonesia.
It is time to say enough is enough.
PNG, your call. Make the move.
(Photo Caption: ULMWP Chairman Benny Wenda – first Melanesian to receive Freedom of Oxford Award recently, non – violent approach to internationalisation of West Papua issue recognised globally; MSG – West Papua’s application by ULMWP for full membership is still on the table, vocabulary of decolonisation in the Pacific has changed; West Papua – MSG intervention means it is no longer Indonesia’s ‘internal’ problem or matter of economic development; PNG’s Prime Minister James Marape – PNG is currently Chair of MSG but will hand over to Vanuatu this year, 2019; PNG’s word on West Papua carries a lot of weight, natural proxy to West Papua; John Tekwie – former Sandaun Governor, West Papua’s freedom is a household topic in PNG; Benny Wenda ULMWP Chairman – due for Order of Logohu or Star of Melanesia Award)
Senior government ministers have endorsed two major strategies heading into next month’s Pacific Islands Forum summit in Tuvalu.
New Zealand’s foreign minister Winston Peters speaks at the Pacific Islands Forum foreign ministers meeting in Suva, Fiji on Friday. Photo: Supplied / Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat
The region’s economic ministers have backed a proposed Pacific Resilience Facility, while foreign ministers approved the development of a new long-term strategy.
The resilience facility is expected to focus on preparedness from events like disasters and climate change, a response to calls for an accessible finance platform tailored to the needs of Pacific economies.
Meanwhile, the foreign ministers agreed on a range of recommendations to be presented in Tuvalu, including the development of a long-term future plan, called ‘A 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent’.
Other issues considered included climate change, regional security, ocean governance and human rights violations in West Papua.
The Forum Leaders Meeting in Tuvalu is scheduled to kick off from 13 August.
Papua New Guineans will be able to travel to Australia more easily under changes being pursued by Prime Minister James Marape.
Speaking in Sydney, Mr Marape told SBS News he was determined to resolve ongoing issues making it difficult for PNG residents to access Australia.
“It’s a work in progress, but it’s something that I want to achieve in my time in office – better access by Papua New Guinea into Australia in a modernised system where immigration is easily managed.”
PNG may be Australia’s closest neighbour, but concerns about the country’s border security management have created headaches for residents trying to get visas.
Mr Marape said he understands Australia’s “insecurities” and has vowed to strengthen their border security management system.
In a wide-ranging interview with SBS News on Friday, the PNG prime minister declared his week-long trip to Australia a success.
“Both prime ministers have agreed it’s no longer an aid-donor recipient relationship, it’s now about economic relationships where Australia sees PNG as an important trade and economic partner and for PNG, we can see Australia as a great market place for our local produce.”
Having built his country into “the richest black Christian nation on the face of planet earth”, Mr Marape has declared PNG will not need Australian aid for long.
Ten years from now I would like PNG to be elevated to a status of economically sound and strong. Where we’re able to help Australia assist in the Pacific region.
“We can only do that by when we are economically strong and resilient and independent ourselves.”
After spending Thursday night at a rugby league game with Mr Morrison, Mr Marape praised his Australian counterpart’s “human touch”.
“We entered politics at the same time in 2007… by the grace of God, he has become PM in the Australia side and I have become PM in the PNG side.”
But there are key issues where the two disagree. Mr Marape has demanded an end to offshore processing on Manus Island where about 350 asylum seekers and refugees have spent up to six years.
Mr Morrison would not set a date for the closure of Australian-run detention facilities, but has agreed to work out a schedule.
Action on climate change – the biggest threat facing Pacific nations – is another source of tension.
While Mr Marape said it was not his position to tell Australia what to do, he suggested Australia consider its role in the region.
“I think our combined voice of global states is important. Australia needs to unite behind the entire Pacific group of nations.”
Port Moresby’s latest home ownership scheme is offering a home loan of K150,000, with low repayment interest rate designed for low to middle income earners.
This is being offered by the National Capital District Commission in conjunction with the International Finance Corporation, an offshoot of World Bank.
The affordable housing project followed a signing agreement between the National Capital Distinct Governor Powes Parkop and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in Nadi, Fiji, on Wednesday. Under the project, potential home owners in the low to middle income category can get the loan at lower repayment rates.
Mr Parkop announced the arrangement after returning from the Pacific Urban Forum in Fiji yesterday.
He said providing decent and affordable housing for residents in Port Moresby is always a challenge and the partnership with IFC paves the way to provide affordable housing.
Mr Parkop said everybody in both the public and private sectors are under pressure as a result of lack of affordable housing that is why there is a huge growth in unplanned settlements in Port Moresby because workers can’t afford the high cost of real estate or rental accommodation.
He said buying a house is a dream for everyone so residents are forced into settlements in and around the perimeters of the city.
“High prices and a severe lack of affordable housing are now preventing many Port Moresby residents from moving out of informal settlements and buying their own homes.
“Through this pilot project, IFC will help us open up the market for green, climate –resilient and affordable housing by drawing on the resources and expertise of the private sector,” he said.
Mr Parkop said in the last 10 years they have made a lot of progress in the city, building infrastructure, sporting facilities, improving services, improving the social condition of the city, providing opportunities, and growing businesses but still faced with the major challenge of affordable housing.
“We can’t rest, I can’t rest as the governor of our capital city until and unless we take on these big challenges that we have left in the too hard basket,” he said.
“Nobody has been able to come up with a solution up until now so we have on my priority list to upgrade settlement to suburb, to upgrade also and recognise the Motuan and Koitabu villages but affordable housing has always been in our priorities, we just don’t know how to deliver it.”
The pilot project will be taking shape at Saraga in Six Mile, which will target both low and middle income earners through a mix of single family unit dwelling and affordable flats.