Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern on Wednesday stressed to the UN the need for focus on maintaining peace in Papua New Guinea after an independence referendum in the region later this year.
Mr Ahern met UN secretary general António Guterres in New York to discuss the progress of the peace process in the autonomous region of Bougainville.
Mr Ahern was appointed chair of the Bougainville Referendum Commission(BRC) in December 2018. An independence vote originally planned for June is due to take place in October. The commission has applied for a further extension on the date and it will be discussed at next week’s meeting in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea.
Bougainville was declared autonomous following a bloody conflict that resulted in about 20,000 casualties between 1989 and 1997.
Mr Ahern spoke of the need to create opportunities for economic and social development in the region with a population of about 250,000 people.
The Governor of Papua New Guinea’s National Capital District, Powes Parkop, has signed a landmark deal with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), to provide affordable, green and climate- resilient housing in the country’s capital, Port Moresby.
The deal, the first of its kind for Papua New Guinea (PNG) is aimed at demonstrating a model for large scale affordable housing for low and middle- income families in Port Moresby, to help ease the growth of the city’s informal settlements.
It was announced by Governor Parkop during the Pacific Urban Forum, now underway in Fiji, which is focusing on the challenges of urbanization in Papua New Guinea and other Pacific Islands nations.
“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,” Governor Parkop said.
“Through this pilot project, IFC will help us open up the market for green, climate-resilient affordable housing by drawing on the resources and expertise of the private sector.”
“The project will target both lower and middle- income earners through a mix of single unit family dwellings and affordable flats,” Governor Parkop said.
“We need to encourage greater housing density in a way that is culturally appropriate, and with adequate amenities for people. The pilot project will complement other measures that we are now undertaking to tackle Port Moresby’s housing crisis.”
According to government statistics, over 45 percent of the 370,000 residents of Port Moresby live in informal settlements without security of title or access to basic infrastructure, such as water, sanitation and power.
With more people moving from rural areas to the city, informal settlements are growing fast and are expected to shelter almost 60 percent of the population by 2030.
To keep pace, it’s estimated about 3,000 affordable housing units need to be built every year over the next ten years, a number far greater than the current level of production.
PNG’s new Minister for Housing, Justin Tkatchenko suggested that it was time for the government to look for new approaches in the housing sector.
“Past governments have tried a lot of different strategies to increase the amount of affordable housing on the market, but the need just continues to grow. We need to learn from our mistakes in the past and observe what has worked in other countries.
By working together with IFC, which has experience globally in the housing sector, we intend to create a model that works for PNG.”
“Papua New Guinea has one of the fastest growing populations in the world, so it’s important to look for solutions to overcrowding in informal settlements,” said Thomas Jacobs, IFC Country Manager for PNG and the Pacific, Australia and New Zealand.
“People are also highly exposed to the risks of destructive climatic events, which are increasingly prevalent in Papua New Guinea and elsewhere in the Pacific. By working with the private sector, we can help develop a model that’s affordable and climate resilient and also uses EDGE, a green building certification system, created by IFC, that helps reduce energy and water usage, as well as building costs.”
As an adviser, IFC will work to design the right model, drawing in the private sector to provide the financial and technical expertise to deliver a cost effective large-scale affordable housing development that’s also environmentally friendly and resilient to climate change.
As part of its support, IFC will undertake demand assessments, and evaluate the technical and commercial aspects of the proposed project and then assist in structuring and tendering the project to select a private developer. It marks the second planned project for green, climate resilient affordable housing in the Pacific region.
The Fijian Government has already given the go-ahead to a similar project for its country. IFC will draw on its global work in helping tackle housing affordability issues. For example, an IFC supported project in Odisha, India, is expected to build 2,600 affordable homes for about 12,000 people.
Further support in the state of Bihar will result in a statewide network of green affordable housing projects across multiple cities that could create about 7000 housing units and mobilize about US$ 120 million in private sector investment.
IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets.
We work with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in the toughest areas of the world. For the last 30 years we have advised governments on public-private partnerships and have worked on over 450 transactions. In fiscal year 2018, we delivered more than $23 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.
Papua New Guinea Partnership
IFC’s work in Papua New Guinea is guided by the Papua New Guinea Partnership. Australia, New Zealand and IFC are working together through the Partnership to stimulate private sector investment and reduce poverty in the Pacific.
WEST PAPUAN military factions have united under the political leadership of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), in a historic declaration announced today.
The Vanimo Border Declaration, which sees three groups come together as the West Papuan Army, was hailed as a major step toward West Papua’s bid to become an independent nation state.
The ULMWP, formed in 2014, is leading the struggle for the independence of West Papua. It comprises the two westernmost peninsulas of the island of New Guinea, which were annexed by Indonesia in 1969.
This followed a “fake referendum” where a handpicked group of 1,022 Papuans were coerced into ratifying the Indonesian occupation through the so-called Act of Free Choice.
Earlier this year the Indonesian army was accused of human rights violations against the people of West Papua. These include the use of chemical weapons as part of a major offensive to crush the independence movement.
Over 500,000 people are believed to have been killed since Indonesian forces moved in to West Papua in 1969.
ULMWP spokesman Benny Wenda welcomed the signing of the declaration and said it showed the rest of the world that the people are “ready to form an independent West Papua.”
“The international community can now see without a doubt that we are ready to take over our country. We welcome any assistance in helping us achieve our liberation. Indonesia cannot stigmatise us as separatists or criminals any more. We are a legitimate unified military and political state-in-waiting.
“I’m calling for my people abroad, in Indonesia, and particularly inside West Papua, to support this declaration and unite,” he said.